Jimmy Carter, now aged 86, 39th president of the United States (1977-1981), is that increasingly rare phenomenon in international politics: a man of modesty and principle. Whatever his failures and successes while in office, an interview in the New Review reveals the values that have shaped his three decades of service. He is a citizen of the world, shunning the exploitation of his political career via the pursuit of celebrity, wealth, and the acquisition of all the often ridiculous paraphernalia of visible affluence.
The Carter Centre, the foundation that he and his wife, Rosalynn, set up in the 1980s, in their home town of Plains, Georgia, is the base from which the couple work to eradicate diseases such as Guinea worm and river blindness and from where they champion human rights.
This autumn, as he has done every year, Carter will be helping to build homes with volunteers, this time in Haiti. As one of Nelson Mandela’s Elders, a group of elder statesmen, he visits the most intractable trouble spots negotiating to avoid conflict and bloodshed, motivated not by commercial considerations but from a respect for human life.
Guided by a strong Baptist faith and steadied by a 65-year love affair with Rosalynn, that colleagues say is touching in its fire and constancy, the former engineer, peanut farmer and naval officer, has pioneered the model of post-presidential activism that Bill Clinton has tried to emulate.(...more)