America is likely to lose the war in Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter said during a discussion at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street Monday night.
Carter was in the District to discuss his new book “White House Diary,” a compilation of the former commander in chief’s diary entries from his four years in the White House. He had previously been slated to appear for the same event at the Lisner Auditorium on campus in late October. After falling ill on a flight to Cleveland two nights before the event, Carter’s book reading at GW was canceled.
At the rescheduled event, the 86-year-old said he was disappointed that many of the problems he strove to fix in office have made little progress since he left the White House in 1981.
“Anybody who has ever invaded Afghanistan has come out a loser, and I have serious doubts that we will prevail and overcome our goals,” Carter said.
Carter was president when the Soviet Union invaded the Middle Eastern country in 1979, beginning what would be an almost decade-long military battle. The conflict escalated the growing Cold War tensions between communist-supporting and anti-communist nations.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan again in 2001 in an effort to weed out leaders of Al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that organized the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Despite failing to find the attack’s chief organizer, Osama Bin Laden, President Barack Obama announced last year that he planned to withdraw troops from the country in July 2011.
Carter said struggling to survive an upward battle in the Middle East was just one of many of the issues that the current president is still facing today.
“So many things that I had to deal with are on the desk for Obama to address,” Carter said.
Among other challenges, Carter discussed the biggest political issue he faced – negotiating a treaty for the Panama Canal – and why the last year of his presidency was the worst year of his life.
“I prayed more than I ever have in my entire life that all of the hostages would come home,” Carter said, in response to the Iranian hostage crisis, which kept 52 U.S. citizens captive in the Middle Eastern country for 444 days.
During the reading, Carter took time to explain the battles that he was fortunate not to face during his one term as president.
“The main difference between 25 years ago and today is the polarization of the parties,” Carter said. “[The Republicans] cooperated with me thoroughly, and I couldn’t have done anything without Republican support.”