Carter in Crisis

  • John Dumbrell
Part of the American History in Depth book series (AHD)


In 1982, Madeleine Albright of the National Security Council staff recalled that Carter was always ‘totally committed to human rights’. Carter’s personal commitment did not diminish. He saw the policy shifts of 1979–80 as involving, at worst, a postponement rather than a negation of the early ‘global community’/human rights agenda. By 1979, however, there was a pervasive awareness of crisis within the Administration. Albright recollected Carter’s reaction:

As the real world began to fall in on him, we all, other than Zbig did, didn’t know how he would come down [sic].1

By the latter part of 1979, the Administration had essentially reverted to containment as its guiding principle. The triumph of containment was never total; individuals in the Administration like Patricia Derian (and, up to his 1980 resignation, Cyrus Vance) continued to fight the ‘global community’ corner. Nor was containment rediscovered overnight. Shortly after assuming office in 1977, Jimmy Carter was presented with worrying evidence about the vulnerability of the US Minuteman force to Soviet guided missiles.2 Later in the year, Carter signed Presidential Directive 18, a measure designed to establish special forces for flexible, low-intensity conflict in the Third World. In January 1978, Carter urged NATO countries to accept 3 per cent defence spending increases.


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Copyright information

© John Dumbrell 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Dumbrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Keele UniversityUK

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