Jimmy Carter and the Panama Canal Essay

Submitted By gman786
Words: 2281
Pages: 10

Before assuming the presidency, Jimmy Carter had been a one-term governor of a southern state with no national or international experience. However, he did have various foreign policy goals of his own. Carter was also a believer in the rule of law when it came to international affairs and in the principle of self-determination for all people. He also wanted the United States to take the lead and go further to ensure promoting universal human rights. Furthermore, Carter believed that American power should be used very sparingly and that the US should try and avoid military interventions with external nations as much as possible. Lastly, he also hoped that American relations with the Soviet Union would continue to improve. He also hoped that the two nations would be able to reach agreements on arms and control, hoping that it would eventually lead to relax Cold War tensions.
As Carter assumed presidency and came to the White House, he was determined to make human rights considerations a major addition to the U.S. foreign policy. This determination in part came from practical politics, since Carter's promises during the 1976 campaign that his administration would highlight human rights proved to be highly popular with the voting public. On top of that, Carter's emphasis on human rights coincided with his own beliefs on the necessity of living one's life in a moral way.
Early on during his presidency, Carter went on to explain that U.S. support for human rights involved promoting human freedom worldwide, while protecting and promoting the individual from the arbitrary power of the state. These principles in turn came from the United Nation's 1948 "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," which in turn helped in establishing the foundation of the modern human rights movement. Carter believed in also testing America's allies in holding up these expectations as well as its adversaries for the human rights. This was in turn an approach that risked straining relations with various friends while widening existing rifts with foes. However, for the purpose of promoting human rights, these were few risks Carter overlooked and was willing to take for the right purpose.
However, although his strong intention, Carter and his administration's human rights record came about to be mixed. The President and his advisers at often times denounced human rights violations by the Soviet Union and its East European allies. Also, various American allies like South Korea also came under tough criticism for repressing democratic dissent. To add on to this, the United States also undertook various different tangible actions, some of which included the suspension of military or economic aid, in order to be able to protest the human rights practices of the governments of Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Uganda. On the other hand, the Carter administration eased down their human-rights based criticisms of the Soviet Union after the Brezhnev government threatened to end arms control talks. Moreover, Carter refused to halt the sale of military supplies to Iran, whose government violently opposed its opponents, even though some of his advisers urged him to do so.

Carter, more than any previous President, put forth human rights considerations into American foreign policy the process. However, conservative Republicans like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who would become U.S. representative to the United Nations in the Reagan administration, was able to successfully attack Carter for cutting off American allies through criticism their human rights' shortcomings. These attacks proved to be harmful to Carter during the 1980 election.
One of Carter's first challenges was regarding the US involvement in Panama. In 1904, a treaty negotiated by President Theodore Roosevelt allowed for the U.S. to be able to use and occupy the Panama Canal Zone. This was a strip of land adjacent to the Panama Canal that would open in 1914. In 1936 President Franklin Roosevelt, as part of…