|Presidency Chart – Jimmy Carter (39th) (1977 - 1981)
The Election of 1924
United States presidential election of 1976 followed the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It pitted incumbent President Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate, against the relatively unknown former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate. Ford was saddled with a slow economy and paid a political price for his pardon of Nixon. Carter ran as a Washington "outsider" and reformer and won a narrow victory. He was the first presidential candidate elected directly from the Deep South since 1848. Eugene McCarthy ran as an independent candidate.
Major Events in Carter’s Presidency
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to reduce supplies of oil available to the world market. This sparked an oil crisis and forced oil prices to rise sharply, spurring price inflation throughout the economy, and slowing growth.
During Carter's administration, the economy suffered double-digit inflation, coupled with very high interest rates, oil shortages, high unemployment and slow economic growth. Productivity growth in the United States had declined to an average annual rate of 1 percent, compared to 3.2 percent of the 1960s. There was also a growing federal budget deficit which increased to 66 billion dollars. The 1970s are described as a period of stagflation, meaning economic stagnation coupled with price inflation, as well as higher interest rates.
Jimmy Carter's reorganization efforts separated the Department of Health, Education and Welfare into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. Efforts were also made to reduce the number of government departments and employees as Carter had done when he was Governor of Georgia. He signed into law a major Civil Service Reform, the first in over a hundred years. Despite calling for a reform of the tax system in his presidential campaign, once in office he did very little to change it.
During his first month in office Carter cut the defense budget by $6 billion. One of his first acts was to order the unilateral removal of all nuclear weapons from South Korea and announce his intention to cut back the number of US troops stationed there. In 1977 Major General John K. Singlaub, chief of staff of U.S. forces in South Korea, publicly criticized President Carter's decision to lower the U.S. troop level there.
Carter's Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski paid close attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Diplomatic communications between Israel and Egypt increased significantly after the Yom Kippur War and the Carter administration felt that the time was right for comprehensive solution to the conflict.
Camp David Accords:
One of Carter's most important accomplishments as President was the Camp David Accords on September 17, 1978. They were a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt negotiated by President Carter, which followed up on earlier negotiations conducted in the Middle East. In these negotiations King Hassan II of Morocco acted as a negotiator between Arab interests and Israel, and Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania acted as go-between for Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO, the unofficial representative of the Palestinian people). The Camp David Accords produced two frameworks for peace between Egypt and Israel, and a peace treaty was later signed on March 26, 1979.
Rapid Deployment Forces
On October 1, 1979, President Carter announced before a television audience the existence of the Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF), a mobile fighting force capable of responding to worldwide trouble spots, without drawing on forces committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
President Carter initially departed from the long-held policy of containment toward the Soviet Union. In its place Carter promoted a foreign policy that put human rights at the front. This was a break from the policies of several predecessors, in which human rights abuses were often overlooked if they were committed by a nation that was allied with the United States. The Carter Administration ended support to the historically U.S.-backed Somoza regime in Nicaragua and gave aid to the new Sandinista National Liberation Front government that assumed power after Somoza's overthrow.
People’s Republic of China
Carter continued the policy of Richard Nixon to normalize relations with the People's Republic of China by granting them full diplomatic and trade relations, and not with Taiwan (though the two nations continued to trade and the U.S. unofficially recognized Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act). In the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations dated January 1, 1979, the United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The U.S. reiterated the Shanghai Communiqué's acknowledgment of the Chinese position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.
Panama Canal Treaty
One of the most controversial moves of President Carter's presidency was the final negotiation and signature of the Panama Canal Treaties in September 1977. Those treaties, which essentially would transfer control of the American-built Panama Canal to the nation of Panama, were bitterly opposed by a majority of the American public and by the Republican Party. Those that supported the Treaties argued that the Canal was built within Panamanian territory therefore, by controlling it, the United States was in fact occupying part of another country and this agreement was intended to turn back to Panama the sovereignty of its complete territory.
Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) II
A key foreign policy issue Carter worked laboriously on was the SALT II Treaty, which reduced the number of nuclear arms produced and/or maintained by both the United States and the Soviet Union. It was NOT ratified by the Senate b/c of the USSR invasion of Afghanistan.
Intervention in Afghanistan
The United States secretly began sending aid to anti-Soviet, Afghan Islamist factions on July 3, 1979. In December 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan, after the pro-Moscow Afghanistan government, put in power by a 1978 coup, was overthrown. At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West.
Iran Hostage Crisis:
U.S. boycotts 1980 Olympics: