Recently, Rex Tillerson, said: “Our policy should focus on how to convince people to perform certain actions in relation to others.” According to him, “this does not mean that it always happens”.
He also said that forcing American values “creates obstacles and prevents us to promote the interests of national security and economic interests.” Position Tillerson should not be confused with the President’s opinion trump that, as it is considered, lies in the fact that work on human rights abroad, incompatible with the position of “America first”.
Statements Tillerson served as Senator John McCain (John McCain) about to write a tough article in The New York Times, in which he stressed that human rights should be the basis of U.S. foreign policy. McCain says that the word Tillerson boil down to the following idea: “don’t count on the United States. We have our own values, we understand your plight and sympathize with you. And when it is convenient, we can Express sympathy formally. But we produced a policy which is not related with the values of interest.” He also writes that “it is foolish to assume that realism and idealism are incompatible, and that our power and wealth, interfere with the requirements of justice, morality and conscience”.
First of all, it should be noted that US foreign policy — at least since the Second world war — was and is to engage with authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes when it serves our basic interests. Saudi Arabia still executes more people than ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.). The United States supported the generals in South America, despite the atrocities that they committed. And they are without constraint or hesitation negotiate with North Korea and Iran.
Often during meetings between U.S. and Chinese delegations, the Americans expressed their dissatisfaction with the violation of human rights in China. And the Chinese are waiting for their turn to read out a statement about the evils of capitalism. After performing this ritual and touching upon the topic of human rights, the parties get down to business. You can argue about what is better — to state clearly the U.S. position, or are trying to disguise. However, as Tillerson articulated the administration’s position trump the human rights of any new prospects opens.
More importantly, in the urgent call by Senator McCain to maintain the protection of human rights as one of the key elements of US foreign policy says nothing about the fact that this goal is noble, but the means of achieving it may be unworthy. From the point of view of prudence and morality, there is a huge difference between the promotion of human rights using peaceful means (e.g., public diplomacy, leadership training, cultural exchanges and even “smart sanctions”) and change the regime by force. Such regime change can often lead to very serious humanitarian and economic consequences. These effects can be considered as the price to pay for freedom. But often as a result of this change of regime comes a new dubious government.
Whatever the reasons for the United States ‘ invasion of Iraq, they were there to turn Iraq into a liberal democratic country. The consequences for Iraqis was horrible. At least 25 thousand people died and millions were left homeless. The Shiite government supported armed groups operating as death squads against Sunnis, causing them to support ISIS. Army in a country so corrupt that it is often not enough money to provide the troops with ammunition and food. In Libya, humanitarian intervention has turned into a force a regime change that led to a bloody civil war. Washington ignored the fact that rebels, whom he regarded as Pro-democratic forces, often did the same atrocities that the army of Muammar Gaddafi (Muammar el-Qaddafi) — including ethnic cleansing. Afghanistan after 16 years of building democracy is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The country is the main source of the heroin which has flooded Central Asia, and continuously supplied to Europe. In the country there is terror. The United States is unable to end even legalized pedophilia (called “Bacha bazi”), common among the ruling Pashtun elites. One of the many reasons that Syria still does not stop a tragic war is that the United States has for many years insisted on the resignation of Bashar al-Assad as a precondition for negotiations.
The threat of forcible regime change is also an obstacle in relations with North Korea, China and Russia. Recent allegations that the US is trying to change the regime in North Korea, of course, makes this mode with even greater zeal (if possible) to develop their nuclear weapons and to oppose any negotiations. China and Russia believe that their allies are under threat — as well as their own modes.
In short, strong arguments in favor of the promotion of human rights should be combined with the discussion of ways of achieving this goal. Apparently, right from the point of view of morality and a wise foreign policy is to avoid regime change by force and to rely on peaceful means of achieving goals.
Amity, Etzioni Professor at the George Washington University, teaches international relations theory. Recently the publishing house of The University of Virginia Press published his book “to Avoid war with China” (Avoiding War with China).