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Unit 8 Lesson 2
Objectives • Compare the policies of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter toward the Soviet Union. • Discuss changing U.S. foreign policy in the developing world. • Identify the successes and failures of Carter’s foreign policy in the Middle East.
Terms and People• Helsinki Accords − a document that put the nations of Europe on record in favor of human rights, endorsed by the U.S. and Soviet Union in a 1975 meeting• human rights − the basic rights that every human being is entitled to have• boat people − people who fled communist-controlled Vietnam on boats, looking for refuge in Southeast Asia, the United States, and Canada• sanctions − penalties• developing world − the poor nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America• Camp David Accords − agreements that provided the framework for a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel
What were the goals of American foreignpolicy during the Ford and Carter years,and how successful were Ford’s andCarter’s policies?The Vietnam War caused many Americans toquestion the direction of the nation’s foreignpolicy.Debates about détente, human rights, and whichregimes deserved American support became partof the national conversation.
As President, Jimmy Carter “For too many years, we’ve beensought to center America’sforeign policy on human willing to adopt the flawed andrights rather than on erroneous principles and tactics ofanticommunism. Carter our adversaries, sometimesoutlined his views in 1977: abandoning our own values for theirs. We’ve fought fire with fire, never thinking that dire is better quenched with water… [I] believe that it is a mistake to undervalue the power of words and of the ideas that words embody.” President Jimmy Carter Commencement Address at Notre Dame University, 1977
Gerald Ford continued Nixon’s policies ofdétente with the Soviet Union after he tookoffice in 1974. The United States continued disarmament talks with the Soviets that led to SALT II. Ford also endorsed the Helsinki Accords, a document that put major nations on record in support of human rights.
1.5 million people were killed between 1975 and 1979. The United States did not intervene. An exception to the policy came in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge seized an American Merchant ship. Of 20,000 S-21 prisoners, six survived.
The U.S. sought to put the Vietnam War in the past. South Vietnam fell to the communists. Many of the boat people eventually found refuge in the United States and Canada.
Early in his presidency, Jimmy Cartercontinued Nixon’s and Ford’s policies towardthe Soviet Union.In June 1979, Carter signed the SALT II arms controltreaty despite opposition from many Americans whobelieved it jeopardized U.S. security. The U.S. Senateheld heated debates about whether to vote for thetreaty, which angered the Soviet Union.Despite the signed treaty, the Soviet Union invadedAfghanistan to support its communist government.Carter withdrew SALT II from Congress andimposed sanctions on the Soviets.
Jimmy Carter changed the course of Americanforeign policy by declaring it would be guidedby a concern for human rights.Carter’s beliefs about human rights changed the waythat the U.S. dealt with countries in the developingworld. The U.S. stopped sending money to countriesthat ignored their citizens’ rights, such as Nicaragua.Carter also decided to return the Panama CanalZone to Panama by 1999. Although someAmericans feared that this would weaken nationalsecurity, the Canal Zone treaties were ratified in1978 and Panama now has full control of the canal.
Carter helped to negotiate apeace agreement betweenEgypt and Israel known asthe Camp David Accords.Egypt became the first Arabnation to officiallyrecognize the nation ofIsrael.
In Iran, fundamentalist Islamicclerics led by Ayatollah Khomeiniseized power. Radical students took over the U.S. Embassy and held 66 Americans hostage. President Carter failed to win all of the hostages’ release– evidence to some that his foreign policy was not tough enough.
The hostage crisis showed that the Soviet Unionwas no longer the only threat to America. Conflicts in the Middle East threatened to become the greatest foreign policy challenge for the United States.