From 1977 to 1981, Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States. During his presidency, he had a huge focus on human rights and attempted to intertwine human rights with foreign policy. Even though his advocacy for human rights was well-liked among many, he proved to be a weak leader, putting the United States in economic and diplomatic turmoil.
For instance, Carter admitted the Shah of Iran into the United States to receive medical treatment in 1979. This sparked Iranian students to storm the U.S. Embassy and take 52 American diplomats and citizens. This crisis lasted for 444 days, and Carter was unable to free the hostages until Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Even after Carter put sanctions on Iran, they still would not budge. Carter refused to take any military action, other than a failed rescue operation. He bounced back and forth between sending two or three helicopters for the rescue mission, even though his advisers recommended him to take three. He ended up sending two, and both of the helicopters crashed. To this day, many people say that if Carter had sent three helicopters the rescue mission would have been a success. This failure was a huge embarrassment for the United States and was put into the limelight by other countries. Additionally, Carter did not drive a hard bargain in negotiating for the hostages and gave the Iranians much of what they wanted. It took so long for the Carter administration to negotiate that the hostages were released the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. The Iranians purposely did this to spite Carter, because they hated him.
Carter also mishandled the energy crisis and failed to properly solve it. He blamed it on America’s reliance for imported oil and urged people to cut their consumption of oil and gas. He even tried to set examples for the American people by turning down the thermostat in the White House and installing solar panels. In July, 1979, he gave his famous “Crisis of Confidence” speech, and it did boost his approval rating for a bit, but many critics today think that the speech was a sign of weakness and was too transparent. Altogether, Carter was unable to broker a satisfactory energy policy, and the crisis did not end until Reagan was elected into office.
Overall, Jimmy Carter was a very indecisive man, and proved to be a weak leader. His negotiating skills were very indigent, thus his overall foreign policy was poor. He even implied that he solemnly asked his 13 year old daughter Amy for advice, further showing his irresolute character. I do think that Jimmy Carter deserves full acknowledgement for being an American leader, after all, he was elected by the people. However, I will personally remember him by his failure to be a strong figure for America.