As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Human Rights Tabled?

This is very disappointing from the Secretary of State, and I have to imagine, the Administration.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that she would not emphasize contentious issues such as human rights in talks this weekend with the Chinese, focusing instead on topics on which progress may be more likely: the global economy, climate change and security issues [...]

"We know what they're going to say because I've had those kinds of conversations for more than a decade with Chinese leaders," Clinton told reporters.

"We have to continue to press them. But our pressing on these issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."

This is that "common ground" approach that Obama wants to make a standard, and to be sure the United States has a long history, in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, of cozying up to human rights abusers. Of course, ghetto-izing human rights as a "side issue" and not one that is linked to, say, the economy (slave labor and sweatshops in China) or cooperation on security (how can we lecture some nations on human rights but not others with more clout) does no service to American or global interests. Especially when the White House tries to highlight Clinton's commitment to women's rights ON THE SAME TRIP.

I do believe that it’s important for someone in my position to raise the role of women on an ongoing basis, even in countries where women are not given full and equal rights. So I don’t think it’s enough that people deal with me; I want them to deal with their own women, I want them to think about giving all women the rights to be fully functioning, productive citizens. So that is part of the mission that I feel I carry as the Secretary of State of the United States, and that’s what I intend to promote as I travel around the world talking about a lot of these important matters that are really at the core of the kind of future we’re going to have for ourselves and our children.

Unless we're talking about China, and then women who criticize the government, along with men, can have their rights taken away. So can any woman living in Tibet.

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