The Honorable Jimmy Carter
The Carter Center
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, Georgia 30307
Dear Mr. President:
I just read the transcript of your interview with the German magazine, Der Spiegel, in which you accuse Israel of launching an “unjustified attack on Lebanon.”
Even after the interviewer reminded you that Israel was the first to get attacked, you charged Israel with lacking “any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon.”
As someone who served in the White House as a spokesman for a President, I am reluctant to criticize another President, but in this instance my conscience compels me to do so.
Mr. President, your words are music to Hezbollah’s ears and your message is a blow to long-term peace.
Just as you underestimated the threat of the Soviet Union in the 1970s, you underestimate the threat of radical Islam today. Your condemnation of Israel, the victim, only encourages Hezbollah, the attacker, to bide its time and attack again.
Ahmed Barakat, a member of Hezbollah’s central council, last week told the Qatari newspaper as-Watan that “Today Arab and Muslim society is reasonably certain that the defeat of Israel is possible and that the countdown to the disappearance of the Zionist entity in the region has begun. The triumph of the resistance is the beginning of the death of the Israeli enemy.”
I was raised a Democrat but I changed parties in 1982 because I believed your policies and the nuclear freeze movement invited increased Soviet militarism and adventurism. President Reagan’s military build-up and credible threat of the use of force helped bring about the demise of Communism and brought freedom and a better life to hundreds of millions in Central and Eastern Europe. It also secured a lasting peace.
I’m sorry to see you articulate about Hezbollah and its aggression the same weak world-view that encouraged Soviet aggression. As Ronald Reagan showed us, peace through strength is the only formulation understood by those bent on destruction.
I understand your longing for peace and your fond hope that Hezbollah can be reasoned with. However, when you call Israel’s defense “an attack”, when you call what is justified “unjustified”, and when you call morality immoral, I conclude that the pro-defense, strong foreign policy lessons of the 70s and 80s remain unacceptable to you. Also, when you criticize Israel for targeting so-called “civilian” areas in Beirut and other areas where Hezbollah hides its operations, the result would be – if Israel listened to you – the creation of safe havens from which more violence and rocket attacks would be planned and launched.
Sadly, Hezbollah today is planning its next war. For the sake of peace, Israel deserves your praise, not your condemnation.
L. Ari Fleischer