Jimmy Carter was the best American president

Peacemaker Jimmy Carter at the Nobel Target

Now, in the opinion of his admirers, Jimmy Carter has finally received the recognition he has long deserved with the Nobel Peace Prize. Because hardly anyone was more zealous in peacemaking around the world than the 78-year-old 39th US President (1977-81). From his "home base" in Atlanta in the state of Georgia, the former peanut planter and trained nuclear engineer was always there when he was called to act as a mediator or election observer.

Active in numerous trouble spots

Whether in Nigeria, the Philippines, Taiwan or Indonesia - the so-called "best ex-president of all time" took action. Sometimes, but not always, he helped the White House with it. Shortly before his 70th birthday, he negotiated a peaceful solution to the conflict with the military regime in Haiti so that invading troops could land without resistance. In Somalia, however, he sabotaged the unsuccessful US campaign against clan chief Mohammed Aidid. In North Korea, to Washington's horror, he announced an end to sanctions far prematurely. In May of this year he traveled to Cuba, called for democratic reforms in the communist state, but also spoke out in favor of lifting the American embargo on the Caribbean island.

Criticism of the Bush administration

As a former he was not afraid to criticize his successors. Only a month ago he fired a broadside at George W. Bush: Iraq was not an acute danger, complained Carter, and by going it alone, Bush was endangering the common war on terror. His Republican successors, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., always gratefully declined when Carter offered his services. His Democratic party colleague Bill Clinton initially kept his distance because Carter was seen as a hapless politician who had only one outstanding success during his tenure: the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt at Camp David.

From failures to worldwide respect

Bad luck and failures predominated in the Carter era, above all the unsuccessful liberation operation for the American diplomats who were taken hostage in Iran. But that changed, and it was Clinton who awarded Carter and his wife Rosalynn the Medal of Peace, the highest civilian honor in the United States. The Carter Center in Atlanta, not far from his native Plains, is the ex-president's base for his diplomatic activities. In the opinion of former employees, the southerner is driven by his deep religiousness to work tirelessly as a do-gooder. At home and abroad he is heavily involved in social policy with the aid organization "Habitat for Humanity". Followers call him a political moralist. Critics suspected a less selfless motive: he would be restless in the hunt for a prize that he was denied after Camp David, the Nobel Peace Prize. It was nominated several times for it, now it has got it. (dpa / dk)