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The Future Almost Arrived

How Jimmy Carter Failed to Change U.S. Foreign Policy

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Itai Nartzizenfiled Sneh

This book is a study of Jimmy Carter’s career, his approach to human rights, his formulation of goals, and his practices before, during, and after his presidency, with a focus on the extent to which the promotion and protection of human rights influenced his actions at home and abroad. Historians underestimate the uniqueness of the juncture in the 1970s when Carter missed an opportunity to change priorities in American diplomacy, a misreading that might be explained by the disparity between Carter’s agenda and the reality created by his administration’s record. This book identifies and examines how Carter’s ambitious words and promising ideals did not translate into policy, though his intentions were noble. At a pivotal moment, his administration adopted human rights as a tenet for foreign policy, but Carter did not design imaginative guidelines or prescribe new practices to advance this theme. The Future Almost Arrived illuminates how, had Carter succeeded in recruiting senior staff to support and implement an innovative agenda, the result might have been an overhaul of U.S. foreign policy, with human rights at its center – which, by improving his chances for re-election, would have changed the course of history.