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America's MissionThe United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy$
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Tony Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154923

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154923.001.0001

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Carter ’s Human Rights Campaign

Carter ’s Human Rights Campaign

(p.239) Chapter Nine Carter ’s Human Rights Campaign
America's Mission

Tony Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Jimmy Carter's promotion of human rights abroad as part of his foreign policy. The Carter administration gave a relatively precise interpretation of the meaning of human rights and connected it to a clear-cut set of political instruments, thus operationalizing traditional Wilsonianism in a novel and sometimes effective fashion. Indeed, Carter established a reputation for his abiding concern for human rights in other parts of the globe. The chapter begins with an analysis of what the Carter administration's commitment to human rights meant exactly, noting that the campaign for human rights did not originally intend to promote democracy in world affairs. It then considers the lessons of the Carter years for our understanding of liberalism's strengths and weaknesses in the conduct of American foreign policy by focusing on the debacle in Nicaragua and Iran. It also assesses Carter's legacy with respect to liberal democratic internationalism.

Keywords:   democracy, Jimmy Carter, human rights, American foreign policy, Wilsonianism, liberalism, Nicaragua, Iran, liberal democratic internationalism

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