I thought it might be informative to pull together a few excerpts: from an earlier post, and from a discussion thread.
"Former President Carter and Hamas: Doesn't Anyone Think This is a Good Idea?"
BlogCatalog discussion thread (started April 18, 2008)
"That said, I see no harm in Carter's meetings with any group, or representatives of any group. He is not officially representing the U.S. government or any other formal body; he is doing this as a private citizen, albeit one who has a unique perspective on the many facets of the situation given that he is a former U.S. president.
"I think that blanket prohibitions on 'talking with terrorists' (i.e., people currently/officially labeled as terrorists) is not a wise policy -- not just for the U.S., but for any nation. 'Talking with' does not necessarily equate with 'negotiating with,' for one thing. I cannot see how listening to the other side, as it were, is a bad thing."
"America is a country where it's not unusual to have several former presidents alive, and active in non-presidential affairs. Mr. Carter's own involvement with Habitat for Humanity is an example.
"It's hard to shake the impression that some parts of the world are run along more traditional lines, and that the latest ruler is well-advised to make sure that the previous ruler is tried and executed promptly: along with the top few levels of the previous ruler's support staff.
"People in countries which are run along such traditional lines may, I think, have trouble understanding that a former - and living - ruler (president, in this case) has no power to negotiate, and does not represent a 'power behind the throne.'
"In a related vein, I've already read a headline that reads "Israel negotiating with Hamas through Carter" - based on a message sent to Hamas via the former president."
"Re your concerns about how Carter's role would be perceived vis-à-vis what you call "more traditional" governments or ruling bodies, I don't think that's a problem. In contrast to some prevailing stereotypes, most leaders in that part of the world are very astute and well educated -- and if they are not, then they have at hand advisors who are."
Excerpts from an earlier post on this blog:
- "Thanks to Eli Yishai's gesture, though, I think that this is what we'll be told about the Carter-Meshaal meeting: 'Israel negotiating with Hamas through Carter' (Ya Libnan (April 18, 2008))."
- " 'Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he did not meet Carter so as not to create the impression that he was negotiating with the Islamic militants. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.' "
Jimmy Carter and Khalid Meshaal Meeting Today (April 18, 2008))
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.