Jimmy Carter entered the White House with a desire for a
collegial staff that would aid his foreign-policy decision making.
He wound up with a "team of rivals" who contended for influence and
who fought over his every move regarding relations with the USSR,
the Peoples' Republic of China, arms control, and other crucial
In two areas-the Camp David Accords and the return of the Canal
to Panama-Carter's successes were attributable to his particular
political skills and the assistance of Secretary of State Cyrus
Vance and other professional diplomats. The ultimate victor in the
other battles was Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew
Brzezinski, a motivated tactician. Carter, the outsider who had
sought to change the political culture of the executive office,
found himself dependent on the very insiders of the political and
diplomatic establishment against whom he had campaigned.
Based on recently declassified documents in the Carter Library,
materials not previously noted in the Vance papers, and a wide
variety of interviews, Betty Glad's An Outsider in the White
House is a rich and nuanced depiction of the relationship
between policy and character. It is also a poignant history of
damaged ideals. Carter's absolute commitment to human rights
foundered on what were seen as national security interests.
New data from the archives reveal how Carter's government sought
the aid of Pope John Paul II to undercut the human-rights efforts
of the El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. A moralistic approach
toward the Soviet Union undermined Carter's early desire to reduce
East-West conflicts and cut nuclear arms. As a result, by 1980 the
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was in limbo, and a nuclear
counterforce doctrine had been adopted.
Near the end of Carter's single term in office Vance stepped
down as secretary of state, in part because Brzezinski's "muscular
diplomacy" had come to dominate Carter's foreign policy. When
Vance's successor, Edmund Muskie, took over, the State Department
was reduced to implementing policies made by Brzezinski and his
allies. For Carter, the rivalry for influence in the White House
was concluded and the results, as Glad shows, were a mixed record
and an uncertain presidential legacy.
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.