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#222: Carter Brings Egypt, Israel Together in Peace Treaty

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Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as President Jimmy Carter looks on at Camp David, Maryland, in September 1978
Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as President Jimmy Carter looks on at Camp David, Maryland, in September 1978

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

Today, we tell about the administration of the thirty-ninth president of the Unitefd States, Jimmy Carter.

(MUSIC)

It is January twentieth, nineteen seventy-seven. Inauguration Day. America's newly elected president, Jimmy Carter, is on his way to the White House after his swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol building.

But the new president is not riding in a car. He is walking. His wife, Rosalynn, and his daughter, Amy, walk with him. Crowds along Pennsylvania Avenue cheer. Bands play.

On this cold day in Washington, Americans look to the future. Watergate -- the crisis that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon -- is several years in the past. The Vietnam War is history, too.

Republican Gerald Ford served the remaining years of Nixon's term. Many people believe he brought respect and order back to the government. Yet he lost the office to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the election of nineteen seventy-six.

The nation still has problems. Unemployment is high. So is inflation. But the future of the nation looks bright. Jimmy Carter feels sure about his future, too. On the day before his inauguration, he said:

CARTER: "I do feel that the people of this nation and, I think, the entire world wish me well and want to see me succeed as president. And that gives me a sense of reassurance and confidence. I think I'm ready now to be president."

During the election campaign, Carter often said he would be different from other presidents. He told voters he was not a member of the Washington political establishment. So he would do things in his own independent way.

(MUSIC)

Carter was from Georgia, in the Deep South of the United States. There had not been a president born in the South in more than one hundred years. Carter studied nuclear engineering and attended the United States Naval Academy. He planned to stay in the Navy. Then his father died. And he decided to return to Georgia to operate the family peanut farm.

Carter began his political life on the committee that supervised schools in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. He also served in other local offices. In nineteen-sixty-six, he failed to win the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia. For the next four years, he traveled around the state gathering support. He won the next election.

As governor, Carter earned praise for reorganizing the state government. He also reformed state programs dealing with prisons and mental health care. In nineteen-seventy-two, he offered himself as a candidate for vice president with presidential candidate George McGovern. But the Democratic Party chose someone else.

Carter did not wait long to begin his next political move. He would try to win the Democratic presidential nomination in nineteen seventy-six.

Jimmy Carter was hardly known outside the state of Georgia. Political experts gave him little chance. Even his mother was surprised to learn that he wanted to be president. "President of what?" she asked.

But the farmer and former governor had a plan. He would try to win his party's primary elections in the South. He believed this would give him enough support at the party convention to win the nomination.

Other Democratic candidates tried to stop him, but his plan worked. By the time of the convention, he had enough support to win the nomination on the first ballot.

In the general election, Carter defeated President Ford by almost two percent of the popular vote. He lost in the West and Middle West, but won the South and Northeast.

(MUSIC)

President Carter believed strongly in human rights. He hoped he could use his new position to support human rights throughout the world. On this and other issues, he was not afraid of being criticized when he believed he was right.

For example, he believed it was right for the United States to end its control of the Panama Canal. He won Congressional support for treaties to give control to Panama by the year two-thousand. He believed it was right to give diplomatic recognition to Communist China. And he believed it was right to continue negotiations with the Soviet Union about limiting nuclear weapons, even though he denounced human rights violations there.

In nineteen-seventy-nine, Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the strategic arms limitation treaty known as SALT Two. However, Carter decided not to send the treaty to the Senate for approval after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan later that year.

(MUSIC)

One of the finest moments of Carter's presidency took place at Camp David. That is the holiday home of American presidents. There, in March nineteen seventy-nine, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. They signed a peace treaty ending thirty years of war between their countries.

JIMMY CARTER: "We're privileged to witness tonight a significant achievement in the cause of peace, an achievement none thought possible a year ago, or even a month ago, an achievement that reflects the courage and wisdom of these two leaders."

Both men said the treaty would not have been possible without President Carter's help.

President Carter was not as successful in dealing with the economy. High unemployment and inflation continued. The federal deficit increased, although he had promised to end it. And there was a shortage of gasoline.

The shortage resulted when oil-producing countries limited production and exports. Carter urged American companies to develop new sources of energy, in addition to oil. He said the United States needed to do this, because it could not always depend on getting enough oil from other countries.

JIMMY CARTER: "This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

"I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now."

(MUSIC)

During the gasoline shortage, Americans had to wait in long lines to buy fuel. They did not like it and were angry.

Many were even more angry about a different situation. Like the gasoline shortage, it was a result of actions in another distant place.

SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS: "Good evening. The U.S. embassy in Tehran has been invaded and occupied by Iranian students. The Americans inside have been taken prisoner."

(MUSIC)

On November fourth, nineteen seventy-nine, Muslim extremists in Iran seized the American Embassy in Tehran. They took many hostages, including more than sixty Americans. The extremists said they were punishing the United States for being friendly with ousted Iranian leader, Shah Reza Pahlavi.

The extremists refused to negotiate. They refused to release the hostages. In early April nineteen-eighty, President Carter broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. He then ordered American military forces to try to rescue the hostages in Tehran. The operation failed. A sandstorm caused two of the aircraft to crash into each other. They went down in the desert hundreds of kilometers away.

The failed rescue attempt had a major effect on the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Many Americans felt it showed that he could not do the job. Their respect for him continued to decrease as the hostages continued to be held.

Other things were beginning to go wrong, too. The president's younger brother, Billy, admitted receiving a large amount of money from Libya. He took the money in exchange for supporting Libyan interests with American lawmakers. His mistake was that he did not list his name as a representative of a foreign government.

(MUSIC)

Nineteen eighty was a presidential election year in the United States. President Carter was expected to be the candidate of the Democratic Party. His chances were almost ruined  because of the situation in Iran. Carter hoped that concern for the hostages would unite the country behind him. Instead, support turned to blame.

Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts believed he could defeat Carter for the nomination. Kennedy won several important Democratic primary elections. But that was not enough. The party renominated Carter. Kennedy offered Carter his support, but not very strongly. This left the party divided.

(MUSIC)

The Republicans got ready to win back the White House. They hoped to do it with a strong appeal to American voters. The appeal came from a man who would become one of America's most popular presidents -- Ronald Reagan.

That will be our story next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.unsv.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

This was program #222. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

1977年1月20日,美国当选总统吉米.卡特在国会大厦宣誓就职后,前往白宫。卡特以步代车,第一夫人罗莎琳和第一女儿艾米陪在他身边。宾夕法尼亚大街沿街人群向卡特欢呼致意,还有乐队伴奏。

这一天,美国人民心向未来。让尼克松辞职的水门事件已经过去好几年了,越战也已成为历史。共和党总统福特做完了尼克松剩下的任期,很多人都认为,福特让政府重新有了尊严和秩序。尽管如此,福特在1976年总统大选中,还是输给了卡特。

当时,美国面临很多问题:失业率居高不下,通货膨胀严重,但是前景似乎十分光明。新总统卡特也对自己的未来充满信心。他在就职前一天说:"我真的感觉美国人民,甚至是全世界人民都希望我能做一个成功的总统,这让我觉得很安稳,信心倍增。我觉得自己已经做好了当总统的准备。"

参选期间,卡特经常谈到自己的与众不同。他告诉选民说,他不是华盛顿政治的圈内人,他会按照自己特立独行的方式去处理问题。

卡特来自美国大南方的乔治亚州。在他之前,美国已经有一百多年没有南方人当总统了。卡特毕业于美国海军学院,主修核工程专业。他本来打算加入海军,但是父亲去世后,他决定回到乔治亚州,经营家庭的花生农场。

卡特最早涉足政治,是担任家乡平原镇一个负责监督学校工作的委员会的成员。他后来还在当地其他一些办公室服务过。1966年,他参加乔治亚州州长的民主党提名并落选。此后四年里,他在全州各地奔波,争取支持,四年后成功当选乔治亚州长。

担任州长期间,卡特因为重组州政府而受到赞扬,他还对州里有关监狱和精神病保健的项目进行了改革。1972年,他主动提出愿意做乔治.麦戈文的竞选伙伴,但最后民主党还是选择了别人。

卡特随即决定参加1976年总统大选。卡特当时在乔治亚州以外的知名度很低,政治分析人士都觉得他根本没有希望。就连他自己的母亲,在得知他准备参选总统时,都感到十分惊讶。

然而,卡特有自己的计划。他觉得,只要先争取赢得南方各州的党内初选,到党内提名的时候,他就会有足够的支持了。其他民主党候选人企图阻止他,但是没有成功。民主党总统提名大会上,卡特在第一轮投票中就赢得了总统候选人提名。

在总统大选中,卡特的票数比福特多出将近两个百分点。他在西部和中西部落后,但是在南部和东北部占据优势。卡特很重视人权。他希望,做为美国总统,能更好地推动世界各地人权的进步。在这类问题上,他只要认准了,就绝不怕别人批评。

例如,卡特认为美国应该结束对巴拿马运河的控制权。他赢得了国会的支持,签署协议,2000年时放弃对巴拿马运河的控制权。再比如,卡特认为,应该在外交上正式承认共产政权统治下的中国。卡特还认为,虽然苏联严重侵犯人权,但是美国应该继续围绕限制核武器的问题跟苏联进行谈判。

1979年,卡特和苏联领导人勃列日涅夫签署了第二阶段限制战略武器条约。然而,1979年下半年苏联入侵阿富汗后,卡特决定不把这份条约提交国会参议院批准。

卡特总统任期内最辉煌的时刻之一发生在美国总统渡假地戴维营。1979年3月,埃及总统萨达特在那里会见以色列总理贝京,签署和平协议,结束了双方长达30年之久的战争。卡特总统说:"我们今晚有幸见证了历史上为和平而取得的一个重大成就,一年前,甚至一个月前,还没人相信这是可能的,这充分体现了两位领导人的勇气和智慧。"勃列日涅夫和贝京都说,没有卡特的帮助,双方是无法达成和平协议的。

卡特在外交领域内取得了卓越成绩,但在解决国内经济问题方面,却没有那么成功。高失业率和高通货膨胀都在继续,联邦赤字也不断膨胀,与此同时,还出现了石油短缺,主要是因为石油生产国限制了产量和出口。卡特鼓励美国公司开发石油以外的新能源。卡特说,美国需要开发新的能源来源,不能老是靠着从其他国家进口石油。

卡特说:"对进口石油的一味依赖对我们的经济独立和国家安全构成了威胁。能源危机确实存在,是全球性的,是我们国家面临的明确而现实的危险。事实如此,我们只能面对。我今天晚上要为美国的能源政策定下明确目标。从这一刻起,美国使用的进口石油绝不能超出1977年的水平,再也不能了。从这一刻起,任何对能源的新需求都要通过我们自己生产的能源和节省下来的能源来满足。过去一代人的时间里,我们对进口石油不断增长的依赖到此为止。"在石油短缺期间,购买燃料要大排长龙,这种情况让美国民众感到十分气愤。

另外一件事也让很多美国人感到愤怒,那就是1979年发生的伊朗人质事件。当时美国广播公司的报道里说:"晚上好,美国驻德黑兰大使馆被伊朗学生闯入并占领,里面的美国人已经被扣为人质。"

1979年11月4日,伊朗的穆斯林极端份子占领了美国在德黑兰的大使馆,他们扣押了很多人质,其中包括60多个美国人。这些极端份子说,他们这样做是要惩罚美国,因为美国对被赶下台的伊朗领导人巴列维过于友善。

穆斯林极端份子拒绝谈判,拒绝释放人质。1980年4月初,卡特总统决定断绝跟伊朗的外交关系,下令美国军方设法营救德黑兰的美国人质,营救行动失败,一场沙尘暴让两架飞机相撞,在距离德黑兰几百公里的沙漠里坠机。

这次营救行动的失败给卡特带来了重大影响。很多美国人都觉得,这说明卡特根本不能胜任总统的职务,随着人质事件的延续,美国民众对卡特的尊敬也逐渐减少。祸不单行,卡特的弟弟比利承认拿了利比亚一大笔钱,作为交换,帮助利比亚的利益在美国国会游说,但问题是,比利并没有在外国政府代表的名册上登记注册。

1980年是美国总统大选年。不出意外的话,民主党总统候选人还是卡特,但是他当选连任的机会,已经因为伊朗人质事件而变得微乎其微。卡特原本希望,选民们对人质事件的关注会让整个国家团结在他周围,可没想到,民众对他的支持变成了抱怨。

麻萨诸塞州参议员肯尼迪觉得,自己能击败卡特,获得党内提名。肯尼迪确实在好几个重要的州内初选里击败了卡特,但这还远远不够。民主党最后还是决定提名卡特。肯尼迪表示支持卡特,但是并不坚决,结果造成了民主党内部的分裂。

与此同时,共和党人则做好了夺回白宫的准备。他们把希望寄托在里根身上,希望里根能赢得选民的支持。事实证明,里根终将成为美国历史上最受欢迎的总统之一。

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