What specific qualities did President Jimmy Carter exhibit that led to extraordinary peacemaking success?
Not only did President Carter achieve diplomatic success during his presidency, he also produced a working negotiation model for peace negotiations that has worked the world over. He has been labeled an unsuccessful President, and weak, or pacifist, but a more thorough study reveals nothing of the sort.
Look at The Carter Center website, specifically his Conflict Resolution Model. It has been used throughout Africa and Latin America. Carter himself has been brought into long term civil wars between African tribes, where he knew no one and had no history, and was able to use the resolution model to get a peace agreement. It's really quite a work of genius, in my opinion.
Specifically, then, one of his attributes is brilliance. He is one of the most intelligent Presidents we have ever had (whether people agree with his politics or not) and certainly one of the most well informed.
Another key attribute is organizational strength. He knows how to focus his knowledge into movements and organizations which can put his ideas into practice.
Integrity would be the third to come to mind. Scandal free, loyal husband, man of faith with a consistency of values and viewpoints that often has gained him access to countries and situations that otherwise would be impossible for American diplomats.
I would argue that some of the same characteristics that made Carter an unattractive president to many Americans make him a good peacemaker. Specifically, he is not nearly as assertive and sure of himself as some recent presidents have been.
Presidents look good to Americans when they exude confidence. They have to act like they know everything. Carter did not do this so Americans didn't think he was a strong enough leader.
But this attribute is good for peacemaking. It allows you to consider both sides' views and it tends to make them trust you more than they would if you came in already thinking you know everything.
In no way would I wish to take away from President Carter's success. However, the peacemaking of which is being spoken seems to suggest a long lasting or enduring type. Carter's peace initiatives do not seem to meet this criteria. Part of what made Carter so willing to embrace peacemaking elements was his basic notion of denying exceptionalism in foreign policy and status in the world. Carter was able to approach peace as an extension of his belief of "limits" in the United States' status in the world. This was a far different tone than previous administrations, and with it, Carter was able to approach nations in a more peacemaking manner than his predecessors. The removal of nuclear weapons from South Korea, the Camp David Accords, as well as normalization of relations with China were all reflections of Carter's basic belief that the United States was a part, a contributor and not a dominator to the world stage. When Carter's Inaugural Address suggests that the United States cannot "solve every problem," the note of humility is something that was not seen in US foreign policy. This comes from Carter's own authenticity. Being a peanut farmer and a president who never shrank from his hamlet values and personal faith, Carter was able to bring a personalized sense of humility and decency that allowed others to both trust him in peacemaking and take advantage of him, undermining such attempts.
Carter was the end of an era when humility was valued as a virtue. After his failure no politician has dared show anything but macho strength. The world will be much better when people like Gandhi and Mandella are again revered.