President Carter and the "New Morality"


  • James Petras



History, Imperialism, Inequality


There has been a great deal of news coverage of, and debate over, President Carter's "new morality" approach to foreign policy. In both scholarly and journalistic circles, the pros and cons of the Carter pronouncements have been debated as if the insertion of moral issues in U.S. foreign policy is something novel. Moreover, numerous liberal and left publications and organizations have expressed hope that positive changes toward a more humane international order are in the offing. At the same time, others—both liberals and conservatives—have criticized the Carter administration from a variety of viewpoints. The real politik school of liberalism, for example, argues that moral issues are an obstacle to negotiations over substantive interests and create barriers to the reaching of limited agreements in areas of common concern. This position is frequently taken with regard to Carter's pronouncements vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. On the other hand, some conservative critics have expressed concern with Carter's human-rights rhetoric and military-aid cutbacks with regard to right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America.