Jimmy Carter: Obama's Foreign Policy Accomplishments 'Minimal'

June 30, 2015

President Obama was criticized last week by the president he is often compared to, Jimmy Carter.

Carter told an Aspen Institute audience that Obama’s accomplishments on foreign policy "have been minimal" and that the United States’ influence is "lower than it was six or seven years ago."

After proclaiming John Kerry "one of the best secretaries of state we’ve ever had," Carter dumped cold water on Obama’s record abroad.

"On the world stage, I think [Obama’s accomplishments] have been minimal," Carter said. "I think he has done some good things domestically, like health reform and so forth. But on the world stage, just to be objective about it, I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when he took over."

Carter declined to blame Obama for the U.S.’s dismal foreign policy outlook, stating simply that circumstances "have evolved." However, he did state that the U.S. had suffered a reversal of fortunes in foreign policy since Obama took over from President George W. Bush.

"I would say the U.S.’s influence and prestige and respect in the world is probably lower than it was six or seven years ago," Carter said.

As president, Carter presided over a series of foreign policy challenges as Iran seized American hostages and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. He spent the last year of his presidency trying to counter these threats, in part by articulating the Carter Doctrine, a reversal from his previously standoffish foreign policy.

By contrast, Obama has not challenged his core foreign policy assumptions in the face of aggression from a host of bad actors.

This is not the first time the dovish former president has criticized Obama’s inaction. Last year, Carter said that the U.S. "waited too long" to confront the Islamic State. "We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria," Carter told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

Carter laid out a policy to defeat IS that is more aggressive than the policy currently being pursued by the Obama administration.

"If we keep on working in Iraq and have some ground troops to follow up when we do our bombing, there is a possibility of success," Carter said.

Obama has so far shrunk from committing U.S. combat troops to defeat IS.