Will Jimmy Carter Meddle in Obama's Foreign Affairs?

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At times, ever since he left the White House in defeat 28 years ago, Carter's freewheeling, freelance diplomacy has put him squarely at odds with his successors. While other ex-presidents have rode off into the sunset to enjoy, for the most part, quiet retirements, Carter has stayed busy writing best-selling books, conducting his own foreign policy and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work.

His supporters hail him as a hero and his critics deride him as self-righteous and egotistical. But in recent years, Carter has lost support even among his defenders for comparing Israeli treatment of Palestinians to South African apartheid in a book he wrote -- and for meeting with Hamas leaders to discuss a peace deal.

Yet Carter's foreign diplomacy has been effective. Last year, his talks with Hamas leaders helped engineer a six-month cease-fire until rocket attacks resumed last month.

It's unclear if Obama will reach out to Carter on foreign affairs. They met this month before Obama's inauguration to talk about the Middle East. Neither disclosed what was said. As president-elect, Obama deferred to Bush on foreign policy, insisting there can only be one president at a time.

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