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25 January 2002

Professor Geir Lundestad,
Secretary, Norwegian Nobel Committee
Drammensveien 19 N-0255-Oslo,

Dear Professor Dr. Lundestad:

I have nominated Jimmy Carter for the prize every year since 1991, convinced, as I wrote to you in my letter last year, that “his qualifications are indubitably the equal of many of the Committee’s celebrated choices in the last hundred years.” The book by the award-winning historian, Douglas Brinkley, The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House (New York: (Viking Penguin, 1998) well documents the record of this “distinguished global statesman” after he left office.

As president Carter successfully negotiated nuclear arms agreements and the Panama Canal Treaty, and he incorporated human rights in U.S. foreign policy. For his Camp David mediation between Begin and Sadat in 1978, we now know that the Norwegian Committee would probably have added him to these two prizewinners if Carter had been properly nominated.

I would emphasize, however, Carter’s post-presidential peacemaking, so well told by Brinkley, which Carter is still continuing. In January 2002, the 20th year of his Carter Center, he declared, “I am more committed than ever to waging peace; fighting disease, and building hope around the world.” As some of the most important objectives of the Center, he listed extending the treatment programs for river blindness in Latin America, building on the success of increasing agricultural production in Africa, and “giving war-weary people in countries like East Timor, Sudan, and Uganda hope for a peaceful secure future.”

The Center also monitors elections in many countries. In 2001 Carter was in a community in China with an innovative election project. At seventy-seven Jimmy Carter still continues his world peacemaking efforts. Brinkley ends his book with lines from Carter’s favorite poet, Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night. / Old age should burn and rave at the close of day.”

Last December I was privileged to be a guest at the centennial Symposium during Nobel week in Oslo, which brought together a number of the remarkable individuals who have been chosen as recipients of the peace prize. What a spiritual force they represented, I thought, as they gathered together at that hotel overlooking Oslo. What does our troubled world need more at this moment than that moral power. How the Norwegian committees have themselves served the cause of peace over the years by holding up such individuals for the rest of us to seek to emulate.

I could not help but think how Jimmy Carter belonged in that charmed circle. The Committee’s prize for him would not only confirm his world reputation as a moral leader, but emphasize those very high moral qualities in a message to the world.. In writing about a century of prizes, I pay high tribute to the general record of the Norwegian Committees. I do not gloss over unfortunate choices, but the absence of Gandhi, considered the most serious error, can be explained.. The omission of Carter would be more difficult to explain, but I keep hoping.

Sincerely yours,

Irwin Abrams

Distinguished University Professor Emeritus (History)
Antioch University
Yellow Springs, Ohio, 45387