8. Editorial Note
In the weeks following the July 1976 Democratic National Convention (see Document 7), Democratic Presidential nominee Jimmy Carter and Vice Presidential nominee Senator Walter F. Mondale (DFL-Minnesota) took part in a series of domestic and foreign policy meetings in Plains, Georgia, with their primary advisers. Following each meeting, Carter and Mondale briefed the press and answered various press queries. At the conclusion of the July 29 meeting with the Carter–Mondale campaign’s foreign policy advisory group, Carter commented to the press:[Page 40]
“Today we had a joint discussion about foreign affairs. We emphasized the point that we are trying to learn as much as we possibly can about the interrelationship between our nation and others so that we can present to the world a foreign policy that is understood by the American people, which is predictable, and which has an acknowledged purpose, which can have bipartisan support, which can regain the trust of other nations in our country and which can accurately represent the character of the American people.
“We had specific discussions about the African nations, and particular emphasis today throughout the discussions on the developing nations of the world. Those who have been most sadly neglected in our own nation’s emphasis in the past few years under Presidents Nixon and Ford and Mr. Kissinger. I think this is the first time, certainly, that any presidential candidate has ever spent so much time studying the particular problems of the developing nations, but there is a very legitimate reason for it because of the past neglect and because of the importance—the crucial nature—for the future. We discussed our relationship on an East-West basis specifically, of course, with the People’s Republic of China and with the Soviet Union. We discussed the Middle East and the Mediterranean area, and within the special framework of the developing nations discussion, in addition to Africa we discussed countries in our own hemisphere.
“We also tried to analyze the proper interrelationship derived from the Monday [July 26] meeting between correlating defense policy establishment and foreign policy—our political interrelationship with other countries. We discussed some creative approaches to SALT II talks and we were particularly concerned in the Middle East in emphasizing the fact that without a complete confidence in our own government position on the Middle Eastern question, within Israel, that there can be no, or very little, possibility of an ultimate settlement in the Middle East. In other words, we have to have a consistent, unshakable, unchanging commitment of support for Israel, and with that understanding and acceptance within the Israeli nation that we can have a good hope for peace in the Middle East.
“We also discussed our relationship with South Africa, and Rhodesia, with an understanding that there would be no yielding on our part on the issue of human rights and majority rule.
“The other point that we did discuss was South America. The fact that we should get away permanently from an attitude of paternalism or punishment or retribution when some of the South Americans didn’t yield to our persuasion. There was a great revelation, to me at least, that within the Third World nations, the developing world, the unique leadership role that has been played by Mexico, Venezuela, and other Latin American leaders. I think the Latin American nations must be treated [Page 41]as individuals. They must be recognized as far as their own worldwide leadership capabilities of influence. And to treat them in a paternalistic manner, or just in the hemispheric relationship, would be a mistake.”
Carter asked Mondale to discuss several additional points. Mondale responded:
“One of the other matters discussed was the very crucial importance of establishing and maintaining an ongoing high-level consistent relationship with our traditional allies in Western Europe, in Japan, and in Canada. This is the bedrock of American foreign policy, and that the administration ought to have that in mind at the highest level of priorities at all times. I think that is a crucial part of any kind of foreign policy that represents the best interest and ideals of the American people.
“We also talked about the crucial need to put a ceiling, not just on strategic arms where we think much lower ceilings are clearly needed, but also a similar ceiling on arms transfer of tactical armaments.
“Right now, as you know, the United States is the leading arms sales country in the world. But in order to put that kind of restriction on the transfer of arms, there must be an agreement reached between the Soviet Union, between other countries such as West Germany, England, which sell armaments, but also with the consuming countries, because this is a matter which arms purchasing nations around the world have a direct interest. And it would be our hope that we could move forward toward some international agreement between those who sell arms and those who buy arms to bring a dramatic reduction in the amount of the tragic, expensive arms sales that go on in the world today.” (The Presidential Campaign 1976, volume I, part I: Jimmy Carter, pages 372–373)