In a recent exclusive interview with New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, former President Jimmy Carter has expressed interest in serving as a diplomatic envoy to North Korea on behalf of President Donald Trump.
Although the proposal might seem unorthodox — it’s not everyday practice for former U.S. presidents to interfere in the administrative dealings of current commanders-in-chief – Jimmy Carter is no stranger to carrying out diplomatic functions while in retirement. In fact, Carter has some experience with North Korea, having traveled to Pyongyang in 1994, during the presidency of Bill Clinton, to ease tensions that could have caused a reboot of the Korean War.
Then-president Clinton did not approve of the trip. However, Carter’s success in striking a deal with the former North Korean leader and grandfather of Kim Jong-un, Kim Il-sung, went a long way towards receiving Clinton’s gratitude in the end.
Now, as new tensions continue to escalate between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, Carter has offered his diplomatic expertise in an attempt to avoid a potential war, possibly even a full-scale World War III. Moreover, as Dowd notes in her Times piece, “one of the basic premises of the Carter Center is that you should talk to dictators.”
When Dowd directly asked Carter if he would be willing to travel, at the age of 93, to North Korea, his response was surprisingly enthusiastic.
“I would go, yes.”
Dowd, while expressing her own fear amidst the rising tensions, then prodded the former president about his thoughts in light of the heated exchanges between Trump and Jong-un.
“I’m afraid, too, of a situation. I don’t know what they’ll do. Because they want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea. Particularly to Kim Jong-un.”
Carter, who has first-hand knowledge of North Korea’s former dictator, told Dowd that Kim Jong-un is more “unpredictable” than his grandfather, and therefore could be much more dangerous. If the young leader, Carter ruminates, feels threatened by Trump he may be driven to act with a pre-emptive strike.
“I think he’s now got advanced nuclear weaponry that can destroy the Korean Peninsula and Japan, and some of our outlying territories in the Pacific, maybe even our mainland.”
According to Carter, he has already spoken with National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, but says that his offer has not been met with the same enthusiasm.
“I told him that I was available if they ever need me.”
[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]