CNN's Larry King Live
TRANSCRIPT of interview with Former President of the United States of America Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady of the United States Rosalyn Carter
Original Air Date: 15 November 2002
Note as of 09 December 2005, the original full transcript could be found at http://www.cartercenter.org/search/viewindexdoc.asp
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KING: Mr. President, you've traveled the world extensively. I don't know anyone who travels more than you. Why do so many people hate this country?
PRESIDENT CARTER: Larry, Rosalynn and I have been in more than 120 nations in the world, mostly the very poorest and most destitute and needy people. We have programs at the Carter Center now in 65 countries, 35 of them in African and not coincidentally. And it's given us a chance to have an incident into the lives of those people and the attitude of those people. And I think there is a sense that the United States has become too arrogant, too dominant, too self satisfied, proud of our wealth, believing that we deserve to be the richest and most powerful and influential nation in the world. I think they feel that we don't really care about them, which is quite often true. Because they see that a tiny bit of financial help would change their lives for the better. I think there's a feeling, too, that our emphasis has been on countries in the Third World that have oil, and countries like Mali or Burkina Faso or Ghana or Benin or even Haiti and Guyana are not even on our radar screen. They all know, the ones that are at all educated, that among the developed, industrialized nations on earth, the United States is at the bottom, way at the bottom, in providing humanitarian aid for peace and for human rights and for housing and for health and education. We give about one-thousandth of our Gross National Product for development assistance. That's one-tenth of one percent. And the average European country gives four times as much. For every time an American gives a dollar, a citizen of Norway gives $17. And I think that we -- maybe after the tragedy of 9/11, we'll begin to see that a very tiny investment of help in those poverty- stricken countries will prevent the hopelessness and lack of self- respect and despair and anger and violence and potential terrorism. And that will be of great benefit to our own country.
KING: I'll have Rosalynn chime in on that right after we come back from the break. The Carter Center is 20 years old today, and of course the president is this year's recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with the Carters. Rosalynn, you wanted to add something on that question of why we're not liked?
MRS. CARTER: I do, because it's not the American people. The American people don't see what we see. They don't see the ravages of war. We go into these countries and see people who have lost everything, even their babies. And if the American people could see that, they would respond overwhelmingly. We're talking about the government and our foreign aid program. But if people in our country could see, as I've said before, the poverty and the terrible conditions these people live in. And when we're there, they don't ask us what the United States can do to help them. They ask us if we know anybody in Japan or if we know anybody in Norway, because those countries give more. But I still want to impress on you that is not the American people, who are good, and you know how they respond to if there's a tornado, an earthquake in a country, and we see it on television and so forth, people respond to it.
KING: Well, Mr. President, isn't the government the make up of the people?
PRESIDENT CARTER: Well, in a way, Larry, but you know, there's an interesting thing that has been kind of surprising to me. When I go to Belgium or to the Netherlands or to Norway or Sweden or Denmark or Finland, even to other countries, I may not name them all, when they run for Parliament, one of their most attractive political planks is, "If I'm elected, I'm going to make sure that our country will do everything in its power, say in Africa, to promote justice and peace and freedom and democracy and human rights, and alleviate suffering there." And it's a very popular thing. But can you imagine what would happen for an American candidate for Congress to say, "If I'm elected, I'm going to increase foreign aid?" It would be suicidal. So you put your finger on it; foreign aid in this country has a bad name, but in other countries it's a right thing for the government to do. And that's where we at the Carter Center quite often
have to turn.
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