CBS's Harry Smith Gushes Over Jimmy Carter, Seeks Carter's Advice On Iraq

Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on Tuesday’s "Early Show" to promote his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Co-host Harry Smith gushed over Carter, calling him someone who has "built housing across the United States and across the world as well, and has continued to promote world peace." Smith even proceeded to seek Carter’s foreign policy counsel on the war, inquiring "is there a way out of Iraq?" Yet, Smith failed to mention Carter’s foreign policy failures such as the Iran hostage crisis when soliciting Carter’s advice.

As noted yesterday, President Carter’s book places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict, and by extension the conflict with Israel and other Middle Eastern or Persian countries, squarely on Israel. However, Smith didn’t challenge the former President on his conclusion. What about nations, whose stated goal is to eliminate the "Zionist" state, don’t they bear any blame? Or how about terror organizations who send children to blow themselves up in order to murder innocent Israelis in the process? Aren’t they equally responsible for this conflict? Yet, again, these are topics not pursued by Harry Smith. Perhaps Smith chose not to challenge President Carter’s premise because Carter’s publisher, Simon & Schuster is a division of CBS, but, nonetheless, Smith shirked his journalistic responsibility by not asking the tough questions.

The full transcript of Harry Smith’s interview with President Carter follows:

Harry Smith: "Former President Jimmy Carter has done an extraordinary amount of work since leaving the White House 25 years ago. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has monitored elections around the world, built housing across the United States and across the world as well, and has continued to promote world peace. His latest book, 'Palestine: Peace not Apartheid' looks at the Middle East conflict and President Carter is in the studio with us this morning. Good morning."

Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States: "Harry, it's good to be with you."

Harry Smith: "Let me talk a little bit about the Iraq Study Group, which is meeting in Washington this week. It's far away from making its final recommendations, but some of the things we're hearing them talk about is that somehow Syria and Iran should be involved in this equation of finding some sort of settlement to the situation in Iraq."

Jimmy Carter: "Yes. I really am confident of a sound judgment and wisdom of Lee Hamilton and James Baker and the people on the panel. And one of the most obvious things is that when we have a difference of agreement with a nation or a people, the first thing we should do is to open up communications with them."

Harry Smith: "A difference of opinion."

Jimmy Carter: "A difference of opinion to explain our position and understand theirs. And I think that one of the most obvious recommendations is to reverse the ill-advised policy of this administration and have direct talks that include Iran and Syria, both involving Iraq, and also involving Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East."

Harry Smith: "Is there a way out of Iraq?"

Jimmy Carter: "I think so, yes. I thought it was a horrible mistake to go into Iraq. And I made that clear. I think now the thing that may be forthcoming from the Hamilton/Baker committee, is to advocate letting the Iraqi leaders know that we will withdrawal our troops at a certain time in the future. I think as long as they can depend upon American troops being there indefinitely, they're less likely to take strong action on their own to control the violence."

Harry Smith: "Let's talk about the book. On the outset, just the very title has many people incensed. Why choose those words?"

Jimmy Carter: "It's based on a minority of Israelis occupying, confiscating, and colonizing land that belongs to the Palestinians. And this is in direct violation of United Nations resolutions, it's in direct violation of the permanent policies, official policies, of the United States government. It's contrary to the agreements that were worked out with Menachem Begin and Sadat in 1978 by me and approved by the Israeli government. So when Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank and connects say 200 or so settlements with each other with a road and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid than we witnessed even in South Africa. So, I use the word very cautiously to deal with Palestine because of the persecution, which is horrible, of the Palestinian people."

Harry Smith: "You criticize, you say, the White House and Congress have been too submissive--"

Jimmy Carter: "They have, sure."

Harry Smith: "To this Israeli government."

Jimmy Carter: "Absolutely."

Harry Smith: "Now, where will the will come from, then, to move forward?"

Jimmy Carter: "My hope is that my book will at least stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There's never been any debate on this issue of any significance. And the news media are acquiescent, the members of the Congress are acquiescent, where as the rest of the world debates this intensely, including in Israel, particularly."

Harry Smith: "In the end, if peace is not achieved, let's say in the next five years, where does this end?"

Jimmy Carter: "I think it could very well end in a much more intense danger to the existence and peace of Israel than we presently see. Israel has the choice to make, peace approved by all Arabs, by withdrawing from occupied territory, or the retention of those isolated settlements in the West Bank instead of peace."

Harry Smith: "Thank you very, very much for coming by and speaking with us again. We always appreciate our stimulating conversations. There you go. 'Peace not Apartheid'--'Palestine: Peace not Apartheid' is published by Simon& Schuster, a division of CBS."