tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera January 1, 2014 3:30pm-4:01pm EST
and movie career, i'll ali velshi, thanks for joing >> your subject your commitment and your discipline has released me to stand before you today. >> i never heard him say that he was grateful to the united states. >> the cold war mentality of the 1980s defined the u.s. relationship with south africa's apartheid rulers and others across the country says former president jimmy carter. >> all the other presidents were in bed with military dictators.
>> he is in the country to attend the funeral of nelson mandela. he reflects on u.s. policy and l how it has changed. >> mr. president, thank you for joining us. at the time you were in office, nelson mandela was still in jail. there were americans who will remember back, and said we were not always the best friends we so have been to the antiapartheid forces in south africa. >> when i was in office we were looking for an end to apartheid. we worked hardest on changing to what became zimbabwe, and also were working to make a change in south africa as well. my vice president, walter mon mondale, called for one person, one vote in south africa. but that was kind of an anomaly in those days. after i left office, the united states administration went back to its previous time of being
aligned with the apartheid government. >> but that doesn't make sense. it's not something americans today think that americans in the '80s would have been aligned with. why did americans think that it was okay to support the apartheid government? >> because the cold war was underway then. and we looked upon ourselves as competitive with the soviet union everywhere in the world. and the anti-apartheid movement was supported by the communist party. in fact, anc declared itself to be communist as you know. after i left office the reagan administration and others, not criticizing him, went back to a position that anybody who was a member of the african national congress was a communist and was later classified to be a
terrorist pnl so i. so it was a time when everybody who was for communism was looked upon as eants american. my -- we did support the revolutions in south africa. >> how were you able to be different? how was it that prior to the '80s when again united states sort of said these guys are commune iforts, the -- communis, backed by communists. >> they were looking for basic human rights an freedom. they were for the majorities of the population of of south africa, they were oppressed horribly by the white minority. when i became president, almost every become government was a military dictatorship and we had always been in bed with the dictators. i went the other way and of course now they are all democracies there.
we concentrated on making a nation that was free out of zimbabwe. >> in that time in 1980 not only did the united states say they would support one man one vote and a properly elected government in south africa as you pointed out it was one of so. >> that's right. >> did you face consternation and pressure from around the world from other leaders? >> to some degree but you know, the united states was the most powerful nation in the free world at that time. and i got criticism from some of the others. for instance, i remember that in germany helmuut schmidt was quite being against this, he felt that the way to bring change was to work with the communists, brzezinskbeing
breznev and others. we were criticized to some measure, by people who disagreed with us. but we had an expression that i made when i was sin was inaugurated. >> a lot of the changes we are seeing now mirror some of the things we are seeing in the american south. how did that inform any of your thinking? >> i grew.in a community called archery, about two and a half miles west of plains, georgia. and there were 50 black families there and two white families. my father's family and the family that took care of the railroad. all my play mates were black kids. all my field workers were black children.
my mother was a registered nurse and she was gone a lot and i was raised by african american women. as i grew older and ran for the state senate and ran for governor, i saw the devastating impact of racial discrimination on not only my black neighbors' lives but also the white peep's lives in my -- people answer likes of in my community. when i became governor, i said in my eight minute speech that the time for racial distribution is oarve. it watts -- over. it was such a remarkable statement i was on the cover of "time" magazine because of that. by the time i got into the white house, i resolved that the civil rights commitment at home and the united states of america should be expanded on a global basis and i should be a champion of human right. >> so full circle back to
celebrating the achievements and accomplishments in south africa. do americans have a right to be proud of the parole they played in ultimately -- of the role they played in the assention of nelson mandela in south africa? >> i would say after i had many talks with nelson mandela, i never heard him say that he was grateful to the united states. he was grateful to cuba, he was grateful to others that spoke up for him while he was still in prison. he was grateful to the people that condemned the apartheid regime. but i don't think that he felt that his freedom and the change that took place in south africa was attributable to the united states. when i first met nelson mandela the first thing he did was congratulate me on having a daughter, amy, who had been arrested three times in college, demonstrating against apartheid in south africa.
but that was a transition period. when coca-cola company and ibm and all the other american conglomerates, were still doing business with the apartheid regime, and there was a movement by college kids including my daughter, to bring about the change in the apartheid regime. that was when -- that was a minimal contribution i would say that was made in america. my daughter and a few other college kids. it wasn't the top politicians. >> i've actually heard black south africas say that apartheid would have ended earlier if not for the dragging of the feet of the americans and the brits in the 1980s. >> i would say not only the americans and the brits, almost the entire american community.
i don't know how the japanese felt but the americans -- the people that were getting economically well off by trading with the apartheid regime, and extracting you know the minerals from south africa as well, diamonds and other things, they didn't much want to see a change. and it was the same principle that we had in south africa when all of the former american presidents were basically in bed with the military dictators there. and whenever any black people or indigenous people rose up against the military dictatorships we send troops in to put down the refltion and we would -- revolution and we would brand them as communists. it was a matter of preserve being the status quo actually -- preserving the status quo actually. committed to human rights, there were some aberrations there when we felt that economic matters might benefit our corporations
and others if we stuck with the entrenched governments, even though they were oppressive to some of their people. >> a conversation with jimmy carter dmonts a moment. when we come back,ing we will talk about whether the status quo in south africa has changed and whether the economy has gotten better.
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>> welcome back to "talk to al jazeera." i'm talking to former president jimmy carter. we are talking about the passing of nelson mandela. status quo in south africa before the end of apartheid was pretty good if you were white. it's a good place to be. it's a beautiful relinquish country and labor was cheap. we're now many years past that. where are we when you look at this country? and i know you know it well. are we where you think we should be so far into the end of apartheid? >> well, legal me answer that by referring to my grandson who was in the peace corps in south africa. he was in the first peace corps group domg this country. his name is jairch in a small village, he wrote a -- jason for in a small village. he wrote a book, power line, a power line went over the village
where he was, which was a black village and it delivered electricity to a white city that was down the line. and he described the situation after nelson mandela was no longer president. that was still almost total ly separate or different between average black person who lived in south africa and the white people who lived in the villages. so i would say that there's been some slow progress made. there's been some very wealthy black people in south africa as you know, some of them. but the country has not realized the balance in be economic progress and educational progress and social progress that nelson mandela envisioned. >> we are in sandton a
suburb of johannesburg. probably the wealthiest, more millionaires than in anywhere in south africa, we are in a hotel and probably a mile away from leavmentd alexander township. hihidden from view, there are people there that i guess at the end of apartheid, people thought would come better bus service and running waters, these are folks not looking to be rich, they thought there was a deal coming to them. i guess this is an expectation that everybody who turns to democracy and human rights looks for. >> well, that's one of the problems that exist. a few years ago my wife and i came here with a bunch of volunteers to build 100 homes in durbi
rbin. they are not forced to live there now but they live there because of inhairnts poverty and they haven't been able to being escape. >> that's a good distinction. they are not forced to live there because of law but they don't have the economic choice to get out. >> that everywhere in the world, in our country as well, where there's a wide diversity between the people who are getting richer and richer and the poor people relatively speaking who are not makings as much progress. i can't criticize president umbeke and president zuma, who have come after mandela, it's a matter of change. the facts that nelson mandela guaranteed in fact why people would not be persecuted or treated as inferior which was a gracious and moral thing for him to do has tended to perpetual
the wealthier people in their previous wealthier positions. >> for white south africans leaving does not make sense. they are as south african as black south africans. >> that's exactly right. i hope in the long term with andersoned education for everyone and with benevolent programs to boost people up that have practically nothing in their life, to give them distribution of wealthy in south africa, it is still a country that has enormous natural resources and enormous human resources in productive labor and that sort of thing and enormous potential. and my home is and my dream is and my prayer is that the ambitions of nelson mandela will be realized in the future. >> when you talked about rowe
of rodesia into zimbabwe, that was something that a lot of white south south africans became afraid of, the property that you acquired wasn't yours and we'll redistribute it, that was something they felt they weren't getting a fair shake. that worried a lot of people in south africa. could it go that way? when you are talking about human rights these are dicey issues. >> i was very active in make it possible for mugabe to be elected. and when his first foreign visit was to meet with me, and i know in the east room of the white house he announced that i was the only one that could come to zimbabwe and challenge him in an honest election. and i would say for eight or ten, 12 years, he was a very benevolent and a very enlightened leader.
but he eventually became, i would say, seduced by the power that he had. his desire to stay in office. and he began to discriminate grossly against the white people who still lived in zimbabwe, much different from what's taken place in south africa. and in the process, zimbabwe has billiohasbeck an -- has become almost an economic basket case. the elections that are held there now have not been honest in recent years. going to monitor one of the elections six years ago, we were declared to be communist, terrorist as a matter of fact, and my delegation was expelled from zimbabwe. >> now you know how it feels to be cald called that. in.
>> in south africa democracy has survived. i think they have a chance to gain a better case in south africa that's the points i'm trying to make. >> what if nelson mandela had served more than one term? >> i don't know in receipt strow spectd what hstrow -- retrospece would have felt. his impact is still going to be profound. they're sorry he's gone but they celebrate vividly and enthusiastically the great contribution that he made in their lives. and i think that spirit of nelson mandela is embedded deeply in the heart and soul and consciousness of the south south africans and that's why i hope this country is going to realize the hopes that nelson mandela had with it. >> stay tuned. i continue with my conversation
>> welcome back to being "talk to al jazeera." i'm ali velshi. we are in johannesburg, south africa and we are here with former united states president jimmy carter and we are talking about the passing of nelson mandela. we had occasion to be on the same plane coming here with people like you to pay their respects. why are you you here? >> i'm in this hotel because this is the last place where i and the so-called ill ders met -- elders met with nelson mandela. he was the founder of this group seven or eight years ago, where he brought together a group of what i call huma humorously, has
beens. secretary of states, former presidents, prime ministers, to using experience we have collectively for the purposes his life was committed to accomplish. i would say to summarize peace and human rights. and we stay in this hotel and nelson as our founder came out to this hotel and we had ooh photograph all of us together. so that's why we have come back here. we have been fortunate as a group to have spent a good bit of our last six years with nelson. and i think this is one of the last major commitments that he made was to form the ill ders and to make sure -- elders and make sure he got off on a good footing. >> tell me nelson mandela as a leader, you say he informs you and instructs you, how do you mean that? >> well, even former presidents of united states and brazil and
mexico and ireland and secretary general of the united nations, when we meet with nelson, there's no doubt in my mind who the leader is there. not because he's owe fis are officious and dominating, but because he's quiet and represents being qualities that are being admirable to everyone. he went into prison and he was a militant boxer who was willing to fight literally and take up arms. after more than 25 years he came out to everybody's surprise, white-headed and gentle. bull still strong and able. everybody thought that he would want vengeance. and to end apartheid militarily.
>> and that wouldn't have been surprising if that had happened. >> that was expected. that's what people would have expected. but he came out i would say exhibiting the finest aspects of a human being. the kind that all of us are reminded every time we go to church. humility. strength. peace. forgiveness. compassion. love. and he put into effect, in a dramatic way, politically speaking, ending apartheid, ending the ow oppression, of the minority of people who happen to be a different color than them, in a very effective but peaceful way. it was almost a miracle what he did here. and i know that he won the nobel peace prize which a number of the elders have done, as well,
along with mr. leklerk and i think lekler consider deserves a lot of respect and appreciation which was poured on him by nelson whenever he had a chance. i think time was propitious but it was a unique, human leader who made it all possible. >> what do you think of the internal conflict that some old afrikaner being traditionalist thought? he made south africans be these people who the world didn't expect them to be in the end. are they sad he's gone? >> it's hard for me to put myself in that position, but i would say overwhelmingly they should feel a sense of obligation to him. because they were in almost an
unbearable political situation, in the modern-day world, to continue gross oppression by a minority of a majorities of people. and the total absence of democratic principles. and i think that they were feeling, then, the tightening of economic sanctions against them. and personal sanctions that prevented their travel overseas, it was growing slowly. >> and the stigma? >> and the stigma, too. and he did it with an element of grace. because they are not any worse off now than they were then. the ones who were prominent in business are still prominent in business. the ones that still have banking operations still have banking operations. so there hasn't been any condemnation of them. and the truth and reconciliation commission as you know gave people a chance to confess their, not only their sins but
their crimes. and to be forgiven. so i think what nelson did there was to extract them from a situation that was impossible to continue, in a very gracious way, in which they have not suffered the consequences. >> presidential jimmy carter, it here. >> thank you. >> you have been watching "talk to al >> this sunday... >> scholars and writers, policy makers and cultural icons >> don't miss the best of "talk to al jazeera" revealing... >> he said he was gonna fight for the public option, he didn't do it... >> personal.... >> from the time i was about nine, i knew i was different in ways other than just my face... >> shocking... >> being babtist...they always talk about don't judge other people.. but they judge everybody... >> the conversations people are talking about >> forget the democrat party and forget the reublican party, they're all one party... >> talk to al jazeea on al jazeera america
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