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Trump's State Department Explicitly Doesn't Care About Human Rights Anymore

December 21, 2017 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

In a flashback to Henry Kissinger, U.S. foreign policy no longer even pretends to care about human rights.

America has long had a disconnect between ideals and reality when it comes to human rights. After all, the country was founded on the idea of the inalienable right to life, liberty and happiness, even as it held slaves and stole the land of its Native inhabitants in a genocidal rampage. There were Red scares, Jim Crow, deportations, internment and mass incarceration, some of it still happening today. And that's just what we did in our own country. Indeed, it's obvious that throughout American history, our elegant paeans to freedom and liberty and the rights of man were not universally applied.

Progress on human rights seems to come in fits and starts and is commonly denied to minority populations as long as possible. Still, hypocrisy being the proverbial tribute vice pays to virtue, there is value in having ideals even if you don't entirely live up to them. At least they remain alive and part of the dialogue. When a nation is the world's only superpower, it especially behooves its leaders to make the effort to promote and adhere to such ideals as much as possible, lest the rest of the world gets the wrong idea and decides it is a menace they need to oppose. This is just common sense.

Most people think Jimmy Carter was the first president to put human rights front and center in U.S. foreign policy. But that had actually been coming for some time, mostly from the Congress and at the behest of the public, which had been awakened by the Vietnam War to the downside of American power abroad. This included the ugly revelations about U.S. support for authoritarian right-wing regimes around the world in the name of opposing Communism.

In large part, this new focus was a reaction to the realpolitik philosophy of Henry Kissinger, which saw concern for human rights as an impediment to effective foreign policy that was likely to damage necessary alliances. This was perhaps most vividly illustrated by Kissinger's support for Gen. Augusto …read more


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