There is an interview with Hillary Clinton in today’s Wall Street Journal. Matthew Kaminski of the Journal asked her:
Why push human rights and democracy so hard in Africa, and not in Russia or China? Some see a double standard.
Excellent question! Hillary answers:
First I think it is important to stress that human rights remain a central driving force of our foreign policy. But I also think that it’s important to look at human rights more broadly than it has been defined. Human rights are also the right to a good job and shelter over your head and a chance to send your kids to school and get health care when your wife is pregnant. It’s a much broader agenda. Too often it has gotten narrowed to our detriment.
Uh oh. Is Hillary saying:
Don’t emphasize so much the traditional human rights where you can actually hold someone like Chinese and Russian rulers accountable – like the right for dissidents not to be tortured, jailed, and killed –
Because we are going to add fuzzy human rights where you can’t hold anyone accountable—rights to jobs, shelter, education, health?
Rights to basic needs have enormous moral appeal, but do they work? Progress on the first kind of human rights has happened because you could hold somebody accountable, while there is little evidence that second kind of human rights has pragmatically contributed anything to better employment, shelter, education and health (as this blog previously argued). So shifting emphasis from the first to the second slows down progress on the first, while doing little on the second.
And if the second acts as an excuse to not speak out on the first kind of traditional human rights,as Hillary seems to say…NOT good.