Former President Jimmy Carter told a Grand Rapids audience Monday that he supports U.S. military air strikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq, though he’s less supportive of similar air strikes in Syria.
The U.S. launched air strikes against ISIS in Syria last night. This follows a series of air strikes against military targets in northern Iraq.
President Carter was at Grand Rapids Community College to discuss his latest book on reducing violence against women.
But the former president says there are times that violence is justified, like now against the Islamic State in Iraq.
“It is very necessary to have our own people on the ground that can give us accurate information about exactly where to let a missile land or bomb land to make sure it kills the ISIS terrorists … instead of normal civilians,” says Carter.
However, Carter says the situation is different in Syria. He says the Carter Center has been working for years to help Syrian moderates build a democracy out of the ashes of the country’s ongoing civil war.
“The moderate rebels, according to what we have found, are mostly living in Turkey, or in Paris, or in Rome or in London,” says Carter. “They’re not on the battle lines.”
The 89-year-old former president appeared at Grand Rapids Community College’s Diversity Lecture series with his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Carter was in Grand Rapids promoting his latest book, "A Call to Action." The book focuses on the need to reduce violence against women.
“There are terrible abuses of girls and women that we don’t even want to admit exist,” says Carter. He pointed to abuse connected to religion in parts of the Middle East and sexual slavery in the United States.
Rosalynn Carter spoke on the subject of mental health. She has been an advocate for mental health treatment for more than 40 years. She says the greatest hurdle to mental health care is the stigma that exists for people seeking treatment, especially women.
“Stigma leads to discrimination against people with mental illness,” says Rosalynn Carter. “It’s ingrained in our minds.”
She says it’s important to realize that many people are living with mental illness, and they are people you know.