Episode 35: Nancy Mitchell on Reassessing Jimmy Carter and Presidential Foreign Policy

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Jimmy Carter’s Presidency is one few Americans remember fondly. In a 2013 ranking created by statistician Nate Silver, Carter took the #26 spot, right between William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. The economic crises Carter inherited upon taking office in 1977 plagued his administration, and his perceived weakness in fighting the Cold War only added to the sense of unease created by America’s loss in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. But is it possible that Americans’ perceptions of Carter don’t match the reality?

                  Dr. Nancy Mitchell

                  Dr. Nancy Mitchell

Dr. Nancy Mitchell says that’s the case, and she joins Bob and Ben to explain why. She explains Jimmy Carter’s Presidency through the lens of his foreign policy in Africa, and argues that Carter was not an ideologue, but a full-fledged Cold Warrior who was committed to maintaining US influence abroad. Nancy also discusses the legacy of Carter’s Presidency today, and applies her expertise on US Foreign Policy to assess Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s approach to diplomacy.

Dr. Nancy Mitchell is a Professor of US Diplomatic History at North Carolina State University. She has published extensively in her field of expertise, and her most recent book, Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2016) recently won the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Douglas Dillon Award for Distinction on the Practice of American Diplomacy.

Links:
-Nancy Mitchell's faculty page at North Carolina State University
-Nancy Mitchell, Jimmy Carter in Africa: Race and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 2016)
-The American Academy of Diplomacy Douglas Dillon Award
-Nancy Mitchell, video introduction from NCSU