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News at Mason

Book talk highlights President Carter's contributions to peaceful resolution

October 11, 2018   /   by Mariam Aburdeineh

Stuart Eizenstat, author of "President Carter: The White House Years," hopes his book will help history reassess Jimmy Carter's presidency. Photo courtesy of Joseph Cohen.

Harry Truman was Jimmy Carter’s political hero, according to Stuart Eizenstat, Carter’s chief domestic policy adviser, and he sees parallels between the two leaders.

“Both presidents left office highly unpopular,” said Eizenstat, author of “President Carter: The White House Years.” “Truman is now remembered much more for his achievements than for his failures, and I hope that my book will have a similar reassessment of Jimmy Carter as president.”

Eizenstat spoke with School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution Dean Kevin Avruch about the book and his time in the Carter White House on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus.

Terry McAuliffe, former governor of Virginia and a distinguished professor at Mason’s Schar School, introduced Eizenstat and expressed similar hopes for Carter’s legacy.

“It’s appropriate now with George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution that we’re talking about Jimmy Carter… I don’t think today everybody quite understands or appreciates the great work that President Carter had done,” said McAuliffe. “He ran into some tough issues… but this man leaned in every single day.”

Rated No. 1 in the country for conflict resolution and mediation from, S-CAR is the first and largest program of its kind, with many multidisciplinary faculty and alumni contributing to its rising success.

Jordan Mrvos, a first-year master’s student at S-CAR who attended the book talk and signing, said he appreciates that big names in the industry often live in the D.C. area, and S-CAR provides many opportunities to learn from them and ask them questions in intimate settings like the one on Oct. 2.

“I’ve gone to three [S-CAR] events in this room already this year and they’re always amazing. They’ve all been very different and very thought-provoking,” said Mrvos.

Eizenstat said that in writing his book he did not ignore “the rap on the Carter presidency,” which he calls “the four I’s”: inflation, Iran, inexperience, and inter-party warfare.

But he balanced those with achievements including the negotiation of the Panama Canal treaty, a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union, the Camp David Accords, the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, efforts that supported human rights, clean energy, and ways Carter set up the successes of future presidents.

“As a president, Jimmy Carter was the embodiment of American values for human rights, dignity, and the peaceful resolution of conflict,” Avruch said.