We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It’s time for Jimmy Carter to take on Barack Obama on the issue of human rights.I don’t expect that to happen but it is clearly called for.Even Jimmy Carter doesn’t deserve for Barack Obama to be called the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter.Barack Obama is worse.
I often surprise critics of Jimmy Carter’s presidency by reminding them he returned US foreign policy to an emphasis on human rights, and that laid a foundation for Ronald Reagan’s successes in reaffirming American dedication and actions to support those whofought to stay freer and to ultimately dismantle the Soviet Union and its Iron Curtain.
Skipping Carter’s own excesses of idealism and grave mistakes in executing foreign policy, which led to many considering his presidency a disaster and voters rejecting him in 1980, and his descent into outright extremism since, read Jimmy Carter’s commencement speech at Notre Dame in 1977, for example.
I believe we can have a foreign policy that is democratic, that is based on fundamental values, and that uses power and influence, which we have, for humane purposes. We can also have a foreign policy that the American people both support and, for a change, know about and understand.
I have a quiet confidence in our own political system. Because we know that democracy works, we can reject the arguments of those rulers who deny human rights to their people….
First, we have reaffirmed America’s commitment to human rights as a fundamental tenet of our foreign policy. In ancestry, religion, color, place of origin, and cultural background, we Americans are as diverse a nation as the world has even seen. No common mystique of blood or soil unites us. What draws us together, perhaps more than anything else, is a belief in human freedom. We want the world to know that our Nation stands for more than financial prosperity….
In the life of the human spirit, words are action, much more so than many of us may realize who live in countries where freedom of expression is taken for granted. The leaders of totalitarian nations understand this very well. The proof is that words are precisely the action for which dissidents in those countries are being persecuted.
Nonetheless, we can already see dramatic, worldwide advances in the protection of the individual from the arbitrary power of the state. For us to ignore this trend would be to lose influence and moral authority in the world. To lead it will be to regain the moral stature that we once had.
The great democracies are not free because we are strong and prosperous. I believe we are strong and influential and prosperous because we are free.
Throughout the world today, in free nations and in totalitarian countries as well, there is a preoccupation with the subject of human freedom, human rights. And I believe it is incumbent on us in this country to keep that discussion, that debate, that contention alive. No other country is as well-qualified as we to set an example. We have our own shortcomings and faults, and we should strive constantly and with courage to make sure that we are legitimately proud of what we have.
Compare that to Barack Obama’s virtual abandonment of human rights and to any pride in a generation of costly and brave resistance to the Soviet Union, and at least to most others who trampled human rights who weren’t necessary to that primary mission during the Cold War.
Brett Stephens summarizes Barack Obama’s abandonments, in China, Sudan, Iran, Burma, and now not even attending Germany’s celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, “a high-water mark in the march of human freedom.”Obama’s dwindling defenders say he looks forward, not back, or that his vision of a humble US in harmony with other nations will encourage those hostile to be more cooperative.So far, there’s been exactly the opposite result, as those determined to preserve and extend their despotism and influence are encouraged by US reticence and retreat-after-retreat from Obama’s prior pledges to be firm and resolute.Stephens concludes:
It also takes a remarkable degree of cynicism—or perhaps cowardice—to treat human rights as something that "interferes" with America's purposes in the world, rather than as the very thing that ought to define them. Yet that is exactly the record of Mr. Obama's time thus far in office.
In the early days of the Cold War it was the moral courage of stout liberals, indeed many being former allies of socialism or communism, who defined the stark difference between the West’s essential core virtue and worth against those who continued to defend or kowtow to its enemies. These men and women of integrity and grit were my early mentors, and led the free world's resistance to tyranny and repression.
Again, it is time for those with a sincere belief in their primary humanist motivations to stand and dispute the wayward Obama and those who are misled.
At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.
That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.
When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies….
Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.
Obama isn’t about to listen to conservative critics, indeed he seeks to stifle them.Perhaps he and his acolytes inexperienced in the great moral battles and sacrifices of the Cold War might listen to allies who know better.These former liberal leaders owe that to their own integrity and legacy, or else cooperate in its demise.