The confidence Carter claimed derived partly from his belief that the Soviet Union was, in George Kennan's classic formulation, finally "mellowing" due to decades of containment. Thus the United States could pay increased attention to such issues as international economics and human rights. As Carter also said, however, the U. S. must continue to contain Soviet expansion and escalate an ideological critique of "totalitarian" adversaries. Although different from Richard Nixon's gratuitous callousness, Carter's position as a moderate cold warrior was essentially continuous with Gerald Ford's. Nor did Carter at Notre Dame preclude a shift in policy if Soviet mellowing ceased. Pressed by grassroots nationalism, effective lobbying by avid cold warriors, and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter ultimately yielded to his own inordinate fear of Communism when the Soviets aided African revolutionaries and then invaded Afghanistan. Human rights ebbed as a priority and a major military build-up began. My description of this response as an inordinate fear is a judgment call. Whatever the value judgment, by 1980 Carter's foreign policy prefigured Reagan's in many ways.
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