Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks in a Question and Answer Session at the National Democratic Issues Conference in Louisville, Kentucky

November 23, 1975

Introduction by Chair, Senator Hart.

Governor Carter. First of all, let me say I'm very pleased to be here to participate in a discussion that's of great importance to our people. Ordinarily during a Presidential campaign, unless our nation is actually at war we have an inadequate amount of attention paid to foreign affairs. Night before last in Waterloo, Iowa, I made a speech to about 1,100 people. My subject was foreign affairs. And this occasion is a very fine opportunity for us to reassess some basic problems with our present status as we relate to the community of nations, and to let us explore some possible solutions to those problems. In looking back, almost every time we've made a serious mistake as we relate to other nations—and we've made a lot of them—it's been because the American people have basically been excluded from participation in the evolution or consummation of attitudes toward other countries around the world. In Vietnam, Chile, Cambodia, Pakistan, the CIA revelations, there's been very little actual involvement of the American people as the decisions were made. We've been excluded; we've been lied to; and we have lost the tremendous advantage of the idealism and the common sense and the basic honesty and character of American people which should accurately exemplify and be exemplified by our nation's own character as it relates to other countries. [applause]

I hope we've learned some lessons. One lesson is that we should cease trying to intervene militarily in the internal affairs of other countries unless our own nation is endangered. [applause] If it were possible for us to establish democracy all over the world by military force, you might arouse an argument for it. But the attempt to do that is counterproductive. We've seen that vividly in South Korea and also in South Vietnam. The Soviet Union, with the exception of street skirmishes in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, hasn't lost a single soldier in combat since the Second World War. We lost 34,000 in South Korea and 50,000 in South Vietnam, basically trying to tell other people what kind of government they ought to have, what kind of leader they should have—and it doesn't work. Either you have a repressive government taking away liberty from their people, as is the case in South Korea, to stay in office, and kicking us in the shins to demonstrate some superficial independence of us or, as was the case in South Vietnam, a constant overthrow of governments as they became acknowledged to be American puppets. When we go into a country and put our arms around somebody, and say, "This is the leader who we want to be your President or your Prime Minister," no matter how popular they might be at the time, we put the political kiss of death on them. And the proud people who live in that country automatically react against a puppet. Had we spent another 50,000 lives and had we spent another $150 billion in South Vietnam and had we dropped the atomic bomb on North Vietnam, we still could not have propped up the governments of Thieu or Ky.

In the last 2 or 3 years, I've traveled as an official visitor to 11 foreign countries, in the Far East, the Mideast, South America, Central America, and Europe, and met with leaders there, and talked to them at length. I've also been in our embassies. And I think in the recent administrations, there has been a vivid demonstration of our attitude toward other people and our lack of respect for them in the quality of diplomatic officials appointed. When I go into an embassy in South America or Central America or Europe and see sitting as our ambassador, our representative there, a fat, bloated, ignorant, rich, major contributor to a Presidential campaign who can't even speak the language of the country in which he serves, and who knows even less about our own country and our consciousness and our ideals and our motivation, it's an insult to me and to the people of America and to the people of that country. [applause] And it ought to be changed.

And quite often this results in a devastating loss of respect for our nation. I doubt if you would find any diplomats in Washington who don't speak English. But you go into a small country that's embryonic or weak or dark skinned, and you very seldom find a diplomat who can even speak their language, and they know it. But you won't find a Japanese diplomat or a Russian diplomat or a German diplomat there who can't speak their language and who doesn't seem to care about them. And when you come to a recent disgraceful vote that took place at the United Nations, on Zionism, and think that we lacked seven votes; if we could have changed just seven votes we could have avoided that disgraceful act, and we lost such support as Brazil and Mexico and many others. Those ought to be our friends, but they feel we have neglected them and relegated them to a secondary position of importance in the minds and hearts of the American people.

There's another very serious defect which I hope we will discuss thoroughly this morning and later. That is that we have no interrelationship between economic policy and political policy and military policy. They're so closely interrelated as a practical matter that it's almost a truism to say it. But when I go to Brazil or to Colombia or to Costa Rica or to Japan or to Belgium to try to deal with those people in an equitable way on trade or cultural affairs or political matters, it's almost impossible to know where to go in Washington to get the answer to a question on long-range trade policies, export policies, import policies, credit, student exchange, tourism, normal business. Do you go to the Agriculture Department, the Defense Department, the State Department, the Commerce Department? You don't know. But other countries know; there's a close melding of government, industry, labor, agriculture working as a unit representing large countries like Germany, Russia, Japan, France, small countries like Bulgaria. We don't have that. The biggest obstacle to the proper interrelationship between our state when I was governor and a foreign country was the federal government. You can't get Ian answer to a question. You don't know what to do. We have no policy that I can understand that deals with the weak countries. What is our policy as it relates to the individual African nations? Or even our longtime historical friends in South America or Central America? Or even Canada? When I meet with those Presidents or Prime Ministers to talk about matters, one of the first questions they ask me is, "Governor, Mr. Kissinger's been to the People's Republic of China seven times, he's been to Russia six or eight times, why has he never been to our country?"

I think if we have a weakness in foreign affairs—and we do—it's because the other nations of the world who think we ought to be leaders have lost respect for us. They don't think we tell the truth. We're not predictable. We don't respect them. And we've lost their respect for us. That hurts me personally, and it hurts our country—to know that the more weak, or embryonic, or dark skinned a nation is, the less likely it is to say, "I want my destiny to be tied to, I want my future to be connected with, that of the people of the United States." They don't say that. They say, "As a last resort I put my eggs in the Soviet Union's basket, or I put my eggs in the basket of China." It has to be a mutual thing.

The last thing I want to say is this: We have an inevitable role of leadership to play. Even if countries don't trust us and don't respect us at this moment, because we're considered to be warlike; we're considered to be disrespectful to them; they still recognize that because of our innate political strength, the size of our country, our economic strength, our military strength, that we are going to be a major voice in the world, and we ought to assume that position. We can't withdraw from participation in the United Nations or its ancillary organizations, because that's where decisions are made which affect the lives of everyone who lives in Georgia or Kentucky, or Iowa. In food, population, freedom of the seas, international trade, stable monetary systems, environmental quality, access to commodities and energy and so forth we've got to be part of it. But our foreign policy ought not to be based on military might nor political power nor economic pressure. It ought to be based on the fact that we are right and decent and honest and truthful and predictable and respectful; in other words, that our foreign policy itself accurately represents the character and the ideals of the American people. But it doesn't. We have set a different standard of ethics and morality as a nation than we have in our own private lives as individuals who comprise the nation. And that ought to be changed. The President ought to be the spokesman for this country, not the Secretary of State. [applause] And when the President speaks, he ought to try to represent as accurately as he can what our people are. And that's the basis, I believe, on which a successful foreign policy can be based, to correct some of the defects we know about and to restore us once again as a nation that is loved, respected, and which has friends around the world. Thank you very much. [applause]

Hart. Governor, thank you. [Hart introduces panel. First, Frances Fitzgerald, author of "Fire in the Lake."]

Fitzgerald. President Ford has said that the lessons of Vietnam have already been learned. Only he doesn't seem to know what these lessons are, quite. I'd like to ask each of the candidates what the lessons are that they have learned for themselves and what they would take with them for use in the White House. This is the general framework of the question, and I'd like to address also certain specific questions to each of the candidates. ...Governor Carter, you've cautioned against direct military intervention in the affairs of other countries. How about the various forms of indirect military intervention through military aid in great quantities, arms sales and so on?

Governor Carter. Frances, I would say, too, that I think that our country is best served by minimizing as much as possible our dependence on military exports for stabilizing our economy and balancing the trade relationships [applause]. And in every instance, as President, I would minimize those sales. There are some cases where we can't make a flat statement about that. We obviously have a commitment which I think has been maintained and shared by the American people throughout the last 30 years or so to insure, for instance, that Israel has the military strength to exist in peace, and whatever military aid would be required, in my own judgment, after assessing the circumstances at the time, to insure Israel's strength, I would provide it.

There are some problems though that relate to that. We haven't had a President who actually tried to supervise closely and manage a defense budgetary process in a long time. I would say that the most wasteful bureaucracy in Washington is undoubtedly in the Pentagon. We've got too many military bases overseas, 222, I think. We've got too many troops overseas. We've got too much dependence on atomic weapons. We've got too much dependence on the shipment of weapons to countries that don't need them, and we ought to minimize that drastically. I'd like to add one other thing before I stop, about Vietnam. I spelled out in my statement a fairly definitive analysis of how I feel. First of all, that we should never again inject ourselves in the internal affairs of another country, except in a completely legitimate and open way. Secondly, that the American people should be active participants in shaping our foreign policy. Third, that our nation should not lie any more to the American people, that we should not try to continue propping up military dictatorships and those that are completely at odds with our concept of government. And this is another very subtle thing that concerns me: We've done a lot in this country in the last 20 years to end racial discrimination within our own borders, but we still have a gross, I think unconscionable, attitude of racial discrimination in international affairs. I don't believe, for instance, that we would have ever bombed or strafed villages in France or Germany as we did in Vietnam, and this kind of attitude, of concentrating our own emphasis in foreign policy on the white-skinned people, is felt throughout the world. And I think we ought to end that, that's something else that I hope we've learned in Vietnam. So I would minimize exports of arms. And that outlines very briefly some of the points that I made previously of the lessons that I hope we have learned from Vietnam.

[Hart introduces next panelist, Richard Holbrook, editor of Foreign Policy magazine.]

Holbrook. Governor Carter, you said, and I quote, "I do not think that any Palestinian state can be recognized by the United States or Israel until the Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel, although the shape of an ultimate solution will probably involve the recognition of the Palestinian people as a nation." Does this statement mean that you are, in effect, urging Israel to trade recognition of a Palestinian state in return for Palestinian and Pan-Arab recognition of Israel?

Governor Carter. Well, the design of my question—you quoted me accurately— was not to put pressure on Israel. But I think the community of nations has got to recognize some basic principles of a settlement on a permanent basis in the Middle East, and I think one of the integral parts of an ultimate settlement has got to be the recognition of the Palestinians as a people, as a nation, with a place to live and a right to choose their own leaders. When I was in Israel the last time, Mr. Alton, who is now the Foreign Minister, had proposed that the Palestinian people be given a place to live on the west bank of the Jordan. I presume that opinion still prevails, at least privately within Mr. Alton. And I think that also Jordan might very well acquiesce in yielding some parts on the eastern bank of the Jordan. But I would not as a nation recognize the PLO or Arafat as the spokesman for the Palestinian people, even though that might be an actual fact, until after Arafat agrees that Israel has a right to live, to exist, and to exist in peace as an integral part of the Middle Eastern community.

Holbrook. What is each of your positions, very briefly, on the growing dispute over renegotiation of the Panama Canal Treaty?

Governor Carter. In April of 1974 we had the Organization of American States meet in Atlanta, and I had the chance to talk not only to the Foreign Minister and others of Panama, but many of the leaders of the other 22 nations of this hemisphere. It's a very sensitive question, as you know, with the Latin American neighbors and friends of ours. I would try to work out some arrangement within these two limitations: First of all, I would not be in favor of relinquishing actual control of the Panama Canal or its use to any other nation, including Panama. I think we've got to retain that actual practical control. On the other hand, I think there are several things that can be done to assuage the feeling among the Panamanians that they've been excluded or perhaps even out-traded back in the 1903 period. So I would be glad to yield part of the sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. I would certainly be willing to renegotiate the payment terms to Panama and I would also be willing to remove the word "perpetuity" from the present agreement....

Holbrook. My next question refers to a so-far undernoticed phenomenon, but very serious consideration for the State Department and other people in Washington. It appears very possible that within a certain amount of time the Italian Government may have Communist ministers. A NATO country with the Communist ministers, in addition to the fact that already exists in Portugal. Some people feel we should make major efforts to prevent this from happening, up to and including covert action to do so. Others feel we should have nothing to do with the situation. I'd like each of you, starting with Governor Carter, to address this problem in both specific terms, and, if you wish, also to add a brief comment on the general question of intervention, but very specifically address how serious a problem you feel this is, and what should be done about it?

Governor Carter. I really believe that the situation in Italy is not as serious as it was a year ago when Italy was on the verge of absolute, total bankruptcy and when many people who were quite conservative and even leaders of some of the major corporations felt that the Communists would do a better job of managing the nation's affairs than the present leaders. I think the situation has improved. I would certainly hate to see Italy go Communist. I think we ought to do everything we can within reasonable and open bounds through NATO, through our strengthening of the position of the more democratic leaders, to prevent it. As an ultimate thing, though, if it becomes obvious that the present government is incapable of leadership and the Communists are the choice of the people of Italy, which I don't think will occur, by the way, then I don't think we ought to intervene militarily or by any sort of covert means. That would include assassinations, for instance. I don't think that would be right.

Senator Henry Jackson. Well, first I'd have to disagree with Governor Carter, and say that the situation has deteriorated in Italy. I met with Mr. Lungol, who is the head of the Social Democratic Party, and the situation in Parliament is about as follows: that they're within 48 or 49 percent of control. I think those are undisputed facts. ...[he generally agrees—let European social democratic parties do it but not covertly. Then Jackson and Shriver get into argument about the Helsinki agreement, and whether Jackson's Senate committee should be more aggressive about Russian violations. Argument gets a little heated.]

Hart. Governor Carter, would you like to get into this?

Governor Carter. No; I join the audience in------

Jackson. Tell us what a governor would do?

Governor Carter. A governor would join the audience in enjoying this absurd discussion.

[Hart introduces third panelist, Penn Kimble, executive director of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority.]

Kimble. Governor Carter, 88 Members of the U.S. Senate signed an amendment proposed by Senator Jackson in the last year's trade bill which would have denied favored trade status to the Soviet Union unless the Soviets relax their restrictions on emigration. Now you've been quite critical of that amendment in past statements. Do you believe that our trade relations should be related to humanitarian considerations, and if so, how?

Governor Carter. Yes; I believe that our trade relations should be related to humanitarian considerations, but I think that the so-called "Jackson amendment" was ill-advised, and I think in the long run proved to be exactly counterproductive compared to what Senator Jackson honestly wanted to do, and that is to let the Jewish citizens emigrate from Russia to Israel. My information then, as governor, and I know it was given to several other governors and to Senator Jackson, was that quietly, but I think in an effective way, the Soviet Union had agreed to liberalize its Jewish emigration policies. The trade bill was then used as a vehicle publicly to force the Soviet Union, through an act of Congress, to release Jewish emigrants. Russia is a proud nation, like we are, and if Russian Communist leaders had passed a resolution saying that they were not going to do this or that if we didn't do something domestically, we would have reacted adversely to it. That's exactly what happened. I want to say this, I think that Senator Jackson's motives were absolutely impeccable. I think that he had the same motives that I do, that we want to have freedom of Jews to emigrate from Russia, but in that instance I believe that his amendment, which was adopted by the Senate, tied to a very tiny trade advantage for Russia, speaking on economic terms in a great nation category, did prevent Jews from emigrating who would otherwise have been permitted to emigrate had the amendment not been introduced.

[Holbrook questions Jackson re SALT accords.]

Governor Carter. I would like to make one statement about the nuclear arms problems. When I announced as a candidate December 12 last year, in a speech to the National Press Club, I spelled out that this nation's avowed policy clearly and unequivocally should be that we stand for, and we will work for, and we will fight for, in diplomatic terms, a reduction of nuclear weapons in all nations to zero. This may not occur in my lifetime, but everything that we do as it relates to food, to trade, to the Middle East, to shipping, to environmental quality, ought to be designed to get rid of our growing dependence on atomic weapons. We now build about three or four per day, strategic weapons. We're going from 11,000 now to 21,000. We've gone from 800 MIRV missiles when Russia did zero up to 1,320. President Ford thinks this is a commitment, that we've got to reach those upper limits. That's just strategic nuclear weapons. It doesn't count the 7,000 tactical weapons in Europe or [short gap on tape] this inclination. We have to reduce dependence on atomic weapons. We have been the atomic weapons warmonger more than they have, and I hate to say anything good for the Soviet Union. But there's no reason for us to continue with peaceful testing of so-called nuclear devices, and we are not complying with the control of nuclear waste. We expect other nations to hold down their dependence on atomic weapons to zero when we are madly building as many as we can. The Russians didn't want to build as many ABM's as we did. We wanted to build 12, I think it was, finally we agreed to build 2, finally we built 1, 6 billion dollars' worth; now we are disassembling it. So there are a lot of things our country can do to hold down on atomic weapons races which we are not presently doing in a very tangible, very effective way. [applause]

[Questions from the floor. Jim Luckett, recording secretary of Local 761, IUE, asks for convention resolution against forced busing—it's not producing quality education—for freedom of choice.]

Governor Carter. This question of busing has been an integral part of the lives of those who live in the South for the last 15 or 20 years. We have dealt with it as best we could. And I'd like to express as succinctly as I can a view that I think has been evolved after a long and torturous ordeal. And perhaps what we have accomplished there can be some guidance for the rest of the country, that is now going through the same phase of school integration. I'm not looking for applause and don't want any. I just want to say this. The best thing that ever happened to the South in my lifetime was the passage of the Civil Rights acts and the complete integration of our schools, our public facilities [applause] and the granting to black people of a chance to work, to live, to attend public facilities as they choose. It would be almost incomprehensible for those who live outside the South to know what has occurred there. And I will be very quick with this. I have one (laughter who is 8 years old, she came to me and Rosalynn when we had been married 21 years, we really love her; and we have three older sons. Last year she was in the second grade in the place where we live, a little town called Plains, total population 683. We have a majority of black citizens there. We live in harmony and peace. In Amy's second grade classroom of the public schools last year she had 13 white classmates, 16 black classmates, a black teacher, a white principal, and that is absolutely typical throughout the rural parts of Georgia. And that's the way we like it. She goes there because we want her to be in an integrated school. She likes it, her mother likes it, and I like it. And this is typical.

We have tried in Atlanta mandatory busing. It did not work. The only kids I have ever seen bused are poor children. I have never seen a rich child bused. The rich parents either move or they put their kids in private schools. At first it is very important to the black citizens to have the busing order, and this is a phase that you have to go through, and I think maybe it's a mandatory phase. I don't argue with it. But eventually the poor parents, mostly blacks, say, "We don't want our kids bused any more to a distant school," because these are the very parents who don't have a second car, and if their children get sick in the middle of the day or if they want to go to athletic events, they can't go. So the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, quite liberal, finally said to the NAACP, the SCLC, and to myself as governor and to Mayor Sam Massell, who happens to be Jewish, and the vice mayor, Maynard Jackson, who is black, to sit down and work out a plan that suited us. And this is the plan that we worked out. It is very simple and easily described, and it suits the NAACP and others. First of all, any child who wants to be bused can be bused at public expense. Second, the busing must contribute to increase integration. You can't be bused away from a school just because it's got black kids in it. Third, and this is missing completely in Boston and a lot of other cities, but it's integral for an ultimate solution—the black leaders have to be adequately represented in the decision making processes of a school system at all levels, so the black people will feel, "That's my school system too, it's not just a white folks9 school system that my kids have to go to." And last, and this is important in my opinion, no child is bused against the wishes of the child. That's what we've evolved; it's been in effect for 2 or 3 years, and it's worked. I guess that at the end of 4 or 5 more years in Louisville and Boston and many other places, the Atlanta plan is going to be what is accepted by black and white citizens. I might add one other thing as a political candidate: that's my preference, but when I'm President, I will be sworn to uphold the law, and if federal courts rule differently from what I believe I will support the federal court [applause]. But I believe this is not the subject to be reopened with a constitutional amendment. I would really hate to see that done [applause].

Brewster Rhodes. [Coalition for a New Foreign Policy]. I'd like to get the discussion back to the question of foreign policy, national priorities, and the institution that reflects our current foreign policy, the military budget. This spring the new congressional budget process will be fully implemented as Congress considers its 1977 budget. The new congressional budget process for the first time puts the military budget over $100 billion at this point, in direct competition for limited federal funds with social services, areas like health, education, public jobs programs. In order to pay for these much needed domestic needs that face our country today, with this limited budget that we're going to be dealing with next year, I would like to ask each of the three candidates before they leave the stage if they could tell me if they support a major across-the-board cut in the military budget this spring in order to pay for those much needed social services.

Governor Carter. Well, it's hard for me to define what you mean by a major cut in the military expenditures.

Rhodes. More than $7 billion.

Governor Carter. I would not agree that we need a cut in the major expenditures for our defense below a figure such as $7 or $8 billion. The cuts that are made ought to leave us with a tough, muscular, simply organized, effective fighting force able to defend our country instantly if we are attacked. I don't think we've got that now. What we have is kind of a bloated bureaucracy in the Pentagon, too many troops overseas, too many military bases overseas, too many support troops per combat troop, too many major military officers and generals, Selective Service System still intact, the Corps of Engineers building dams we don't need, excessive levels of bureaucracy, and no control from the White House. The President has got to be the one to stand with the American people against the unwarranted influence of the so-called military-industrial complex, which has gotten out of control, because an average Congressman, if he or she disagrees with the military budget, finds it very hard to prevail, even in his home district, against the joint commitment of the President and the Pentagon. So I think the President once again has to reassert authority over it. But I Would not favor cutting the substance out of our military budget. Hl give you one example to show you my concern. About 6 years ago, we had 1,100 ships in the Navy; now we have about 500.

Six years ago the Russians had about 600 ships; now they've got almost twice as many. And in order to maintain peace, and to provide trade channels to go to Israel, to go through the Suez Canal, to go through the Mediterranean Sea, to go to Japan, to bring oil and bauxite to our country, we've got to have those sea lanes open. And I think this is a very fine investment to make, but it ought not be designed to encroach all over the world in an unwarranted fashion in the affairs of other people. But I would not agree that we need a substantial cut in the military budget more than a figure in the neighborhood of $7 or $8 billion. I might add one other thing: Brookings Institution has made a study that showed that if you cut $1 billion out of the 1976 fiscal year budget, it's the equivalent of about a $5 billion reduction in the 1980 budget. So I think careful, long-range planning and, for the first time, a coordination between military spending and the effectuation of a foreign policy that's viable in the defense of our country would help a great deal. We don't have that coordination now.

Jean Cooper [Women's Caucus]. For too many years this country has supported right-wing dictatorship as an integral part of its foreign policy. This support has included approval by silence of torture, mayhem and murder, and as we now know an all too active role in political assassinations abroad. What initiative in future foreign policy will the Democratic Party, and each of you if you are elected, do to insure ending the practice of creating and supporting right-wing dictatorships, such as the Thieu regime in South Vietnam, the Chilean junta, and the recently fallen Greek dictatorship?

Governor Carter. I think that I gave you the best answer I could in my 5-minute speech earlier. Do you want me to repeat what I said or just------

Cooper. Governor Carter, I realize that you have touched on this subject, but will you refuse, or direct Congress not to give any support to regimes such as this, or will you feel obliged if Congress does pass legislation giving foreign aid et cetera, to such countries to go along with It?

Governor Carter. Well, I couldn't promise you that never during an 8-year period in the White House [laughter and applause] will I ever trade with or give aid to a country that has a government contrary to what we want. But I would certainly never repeat what we have done in the areas that you described, that is, openly or covertly, legally and illegally, support nations who stand for principles on which their people violently disagree and which are completely antithetical to what we believe in. I think we have been guilty of this many times in the past, and as you well know, it's been counterproductive when we do support a regime, even if it's on a borderline, just our own military or CIA or pressure kind of support puts the stigma on that regime or person that they are an American puppet. And it tends to destroy the democratic principles that we are trying to espouse. Quite often, as you know, in our foreign aid program, we have used this benevolent concept, which is compatible with the American people's interest to help others who are deprived or who are suffering, in a complete opposite way. I think Prof. Richard Gardner expressed it in the best way that I know. He said that although we are a rich country, and we want to help other people, it's time to quit taxing the poor people in our rich country and giving the money to the rich people in the poor countries. I think that's a good solution to it, and it summarizes, I think, what you've said so well.

Vernon Leopold. [From Oakland County, Michigan State Democratic Party Policy Committee]. During the last 2 years, the American people have been fleeced of billions of dollars by an international oil cartel. The cartel took advantage of an abundance of oil reserves in its part of the world and has been able to dictate a threefold increase in the price of oil, accelerating inflation domestically and abroad. Yet these very nations lack for the most part all natural resources, and their poor soil and arid climate make it almost impossible for them to grow grain and wheat and feed. The United States, on the other hand, has become the breadbasket of the world. The natural richness of our soil, combined with our agricultural technology and know-how, make us now the chief supplier of world grain and food supplies, to the point where we export badly needed food to the very countries who put the squeeze on us. Also the Soviet Union, under the guise of détente, has been purchasing and trading in this country, mostly through centralized Soviet Government trading agencies, which put the small American sellers of those products al a competitive disadvantage, they can't bargain. Now, therefore, let me put this question to the panel: Would you favor legislation which would create a foreign trade corporation which would become the sole exporter and importer of products which would be declared to be effected with the national interest? These could include grains, but other supplies. This agency would then be empowered to buy these products domestically at prevailing market prices and sell them abroad selectively at predetermined profits, and the profits would then be applied either toward the reduction of the cost of imported energy, and/or to finance crash programs for the development of ultimate sources of energy, such as, by way of examples, nuclear fusion.

Governor Carter. The way I understand your proposal, there would be a government entity that would manage the foreign trade between our own nation and other countries, accumulating food supplies and other things that we have to export, and controlling imports as well to this government agency. That would be completely contrary to my own concept of trade. I think the federal government has got too many things already that it's supposed to be doing, that it's not doing well, to take over the complete free enterprise type foreign trade program that is so complicated. I would not want to see food products—I happen to be a full-time farmer—sold to other countries through a government agency. And I don't believe that this is a right way to move at all.

[Hart thanks everybody—ends session.]

NOTE: The late Senator Philip A. Hart, of Michigan, presided.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks in a Question and Answer Session at the National Democratic Issues Conference in Louisville, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347673

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