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Carter's Peace Prize deserved

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter was a welcome reprieve to the misery of the season's incessant news of war, corporate greed, negative campaign ads, a sniper on the loose, Wall Street in freefall, and roaring deficits in both Montana and the nation.

    Jimmy Carter, who served one term as president from 1977 to 1981, is the most active and productive former president in the nation's history. A recent cartoon summed it up best by portraying the little boy looking up at his father and saying, "Daddy, when I grow up I want to be an ex-president."

    Unlike each of our other living former presidents, Jimmy Carter has not used his time chasing high paying positions on corporate boards, bonanza stock options, or astronomically high speaking fees. He has left those demeaning tasks to Reagan, Ford, Bush and Clinton. The first three became very rich almost immediately upon leaving the White House and if Clinton can ever get his eight years of legal bills paid, he too will join his three Republican predecessors as a wealthy man.

    Carter, however, shunned the fast buck path and instead has immersed himself in the sweaty, gritty, day-in-day-out work of peace and reconciliation. He takes hammer and saw in hand and builds homes for the poor through Habitat for Humanity. He oversees elections in the world's struggling democracies. From the dangerous and volatile North Korea to the chaos of Haiti, from the exploding Middle East to starving Africans, he has demonstrated the effectiveness of thoughtful, deliberate negotiations as a successful alternative to war. No one knows the number of lives that have been spared because of Carter's relentless pursuit of peace.

    We do know the number of lives that have been lost in too many unnecessary, undeclared wars.    The Carter Center was created by the former president and his wife, Rosalyn, following his re-election defeat. The Atlanta-based, non-profit organization, under the Carters' active management, has worked to resolve conflicts, encourage democracy and improve the health of the world's poor and indisposed. Carter's efforts toward world health have been particularly effective. He and the Center have worked to alleviate health problems in 27 countries in Africa, 13 countries in South America, throughout Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, Canada and the United States. Carter is particularly pleased with his Center's success in preventing blindness among millions of people in Africa and Asia through a 98% rate of eradication of Guinea worm disease. The Center's teaching of improved agriculture techniques is dramatically reducing starvation throughout the sub-Sahara.

    During Carter's political years many people found him too blunt, too frank, almost naïve. His slogan was, after all, "I'll never lie to you." He refused to run negative campaigns—either in his election against Jerry Ford or in his defeat by Ronald Reagan. How refreshing it would have been if we Montanans had not undergone this fall's campaign bombarded with those negative TV campaign ads by both Democrats and Republicans. Tragically there simply aren't many Jimmy Carters out there.

    The Nobel Peace Prize has been earned by former President Carter, Mrs. Carter and their Center. Since leaving the White House 20 years ago, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter have ennobled America with their inspiring work for peace.

 

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Rep. Pat Williams Rep. Pat Williams served nine terms as a U.S. Representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and is teaching at the University of Montana where he also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and is Northern Director of Western Progress.

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