University of California, Berkeley historian Daniel Sargent says the 1970s were a turning point for American foreign policy.
“Prior to the '70s, the U.S. was very actively engaged in working to promote development and modernization within foreign countries in the developing world,” Sargent says. “And these efforts proved largely unsuccessful.”
Sargent says President Carter was the first, and last, president to make human rights a central policy issue. After Carter, the United States took a step back from actively promoting development and focused on maintaining an open system of international trade.