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Former president Jimmy Carter celebrates 95th birthday

The 39th president served from 1977 to 1981.

Jimmy Carter (AP Photo/John Amis)
Jimmy Carter (AP Photo/John Amis)

By Bill Barrow, Associated Press

Jimmy Carter is celebrating his 95th birthday, becoming the first US president to reach that milestone as he continues his humanitarian work and occasionally wades back into politics, almost four decades after leaving office.

Mr Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981 and still lives in tiny Plains, Georgia, planned no public celebrations.

The 39th president, born in 1924 and raised during the Great Depression, has slowed physically in recent years, acknowledging recently that he has trouble walking after hip replacement surgery in May.

But he remains active with programmes at the post-presidency centre he and Rosalynn Carter opened in Atlanta in 1982.

He still teaches Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains.

The Carters plan to travel later this week to Nashville, Tennessee, where they will help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

Mr Carter survived a dire cancer diagnosis in 2015 and became the longest-lived US president in history this spring, surpassing George HW Bush, who died in 2018.

Rosalynn Carter, 92, is among the longest-lived first ladies. The couple have been married 73 years.

In recent public appearances, the former president has sounded like a man still intent on securing his legacy, amplifying his criticisms of American military spending and war, blasting the proliferation of money in US politics and urging action to combat the climate crisis.

He has expressed particular pride that the US engaged in no foreign wars during his tenure.

“I just want to keep the whole world at peace,” he said in September during his annual Carter Centre report.

“We have been at war more than 226 years. We have been at peace for about 16 years,” he said of the US since the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He said every US military conflict from the Korean War onwards has been a war of “choice”.

A Naval Academy graduate and Second World War veteran, Mr Carter said presidents feed the cycle, in part because “we make a hero” out of wartime commanders-in-chief.

The Carter Centre, which has focused mainly on public health, election monitoring and conflict resolution, has “never voiced an opinion publicly” on individual wars, he noted.

“This is primarily my fault,” the former president said, explaining that he wants the centre to become a more forceful advocate on questions of war around the world, including “wars by the United States”.

He said the Carter Centre could engage in “constructive criticism of the United States government … without being partisan about it”.

An outspoken Christian, Carter sometimes frames his views on war in terms of his faith, noting that Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the “prince of peace”.

He has not backed anyone in the Democratic presidential primaries, but he says re-electing Donald Trump would be “a disaster”.

PA

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