Gerald Ford did help heal this country's woundsamong other things he offered amnesty to those who had fled to Canada to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War. But his pardon of Richard Nixon cost him popular support, and he was unable to get elected in his own right. His successor was James Earl Carter , a peanut farmer who had risen to become Georgia's governor, and who was passionate about freedom and human rights around the world. In his inaugural address he spoke eloquently of these concerns: "The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to undertake, than to help shape a just and peaceful world that is truly humane."
Carter worked hard to bring peace to the Middle East, one of the most tumultuous and war-torn areas on earth. The Middle East "peace talks"as the negotiations between Israel and Egypt were calledresulted in an agreement called the Camp David Accords (after the presidential retreat where they were held). This agreement would be the finest achievement of Carter's presidency and was instrumental in his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
But many in the Muslim world were unhappy with the peace treaty, and angered by America's influence in the region. And in 1979 one of America's strongest Middle East supporters, the Shah of Iran, was driven from power. He was succeeded by Ayatollah Khomeinia Shiite religious leader who preached hatred of the United States. In November, a group of militant Irani students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and took fifty-two American hostages. State Department employee Robert Ode was among them, and he recorded his experience in a diary:
"We were surrounded by a group of the students who were armed ... and then [we were] marched to the Embassy residence. I was taken upstairs and put alone in a rear bedroom and blindfolded. I strongly protested the violation of my diplomatic immunity, but these protests were ignored."