We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war.
I was born in the UK in 1972. The “world leaders” who defined my youth were Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Leonid Brezhnev. This may have something to do with why I am so bitter, cynical and generally misanthropic nowadays, although the star turns we’ve seen in the US, UK and former USSR since then may have helped too.
Before Reagan, there was Jimmy Carter. I remember him from the TV news at the time only very vaguely. Since missing re-election in 1981, Carter has worked on a vast range of issues, mostly to do with disease eradication in developing countries and election supervision in fragile democracies. That his name can send the US right wing into a frothing ball of fury seems to indicate that he’s been doing good things.
A recent interview in The Guardian brought home just what a great man he is. The description of his house and his manner make me think more of a Greek senator elected by lot than a modern American politician with all the schmaltz and money that goes with it. He’s a humble man who has lived his beliefs. That deserves a lot of respect.
The other thing that comes across in the interview is his intellectual engagement. I loved the story from his chief of staff that he only once was able to tell Carter something that he didn’t already know. If you have any sense, you don’t choose a leader you’d be happy to have a beer with (don’t know if Carter even drinks); you choose a leader who is intelligent, motivated and honest. Carter is all of those things.