GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—An international peace-crimes tribunal commenced legal proceedings against former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for alleged crimes against inhumanity Monday.
"Jimmy Carter's political career includes a laundry list of anti-war-making offenses," said chief prosecutor Charles B. Simmons. "Carter's record of benevolence, diplomacy, and respect for human life is unrivaled in recent geopolitical history. For millions, the very sight of his face evokes memories of his administration's reign of tolerance."
The former president, whom Simmons described as "relentless in his naked pursuit of everlasting global peace," has been sought by peace-crimes officers in the international war-making community for decades. Police apprehended Carter on July 25 in South Florida, where he was building low-income housing as a part of a Habitat For Humanity project. Shortly thereafter, he was extradited to Geneva, where he will be prosecuted for "grossly humane acts against all nations."
Yale University political-science professor Janet Hargrove said the evidence against Carter is overwhelming.
"Carter's defense team will have a difficult task defending him against these peacemaking accusations," Hargrove said. "Carter's signature is right there on the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel. His decision to return control of the Panama Canal to Panama continues to impede U.S. military intervention in the region even today, and his influence on the SALT II treaty is a matter of public record. He may have been in part responsible for the temporary nuclear détente between the U.S. and the Soviets."
While much of his peacemaking took place during his term of office, the years following Carter's presidency have included peace-mongering missions in Ethiopia, Sudan, North Korea, and the former Yugoslavia.
"Carter is one of the worst enemies the forces of destruction have known since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent rampages of the '50s and '60s," Simmons said. "Even today, in his capacity as an ex-president, [Carter] continues his pursuit of non-aggression. He must be stopped now, before another terrible war is avoided and more lives are saved."
Prosecutors have linked Carter to a number of international humanitarian organizations, including Red Cross and Amnesty International, both of which fund compassionate, non-military efforts around the globe.
"The former president has even been linked to an organization within Sweden known for promoting the peace agenda by remaining on the outside of the international political process," Hargrove said. "A medal commemorating a so-called 'Nobel Peace Prize' was seized from Carter's Georgia estate and will be used as evidence against him."
Vince Halloway, an expert in international law with the Brookings Institution, expects Carter's defenders to attempt to establish him as a propagator of internatinal conflict by citing his mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis, his boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and his time served on a Navy nuclear submarine.
Halloway, however, said he considers this defense "thin."
"Prosecutors will have no difficulty establishing Carter's willful intent to pursue and maintain the aim of peaceful intervention in international affairs when they cite his formation of The Carter Center, an organization whose three publicly stated aims are 'Fighting Disease,' 'Building Hope,' and 'Waging Peace,'" Halloway said. "Carter will be forced to answer for his reign of tranquility before the entire world community."
If found guilty, Carter could face permanent exile in a nonviolent nation such as Norway.
On behalf of the Bush administration, Vice-President Dick Cheney expressed regret over Carter's alleged crimes.
"We are all aware of the missteps that occurred during the placid days of the Carter administration," Cheney said. "It was simply a matter of bringing the justice to light. Thankfully, the process has begun, and this chapter in our nation's history is finally being brought to a close."