Saturday, March 15, 2014

Obama Administration Abandons Monroe Doctrine, but Keeps Bush II Human Rights Policy

Slate quoted this from Secretary John Kerry's November 2013 speech at the Organization of American States:
When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice. 
Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.
The New York Times reported on March 13, 2014 that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "imposes no human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad, rejecting an interpretation by the United Nations and the top State Department lawyer during President Obama’s first term."
The administration affirmed that stance in a meeting in Geneva of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Thursday. The United States first expressed the stance in 1995 after the Clinton administration was criticized for its policy of intercepting Haitian refugees at sea, and the Bush administration later amplified it to defend its treatment of terrorism suspects in overseas prisons.
So Secretary Kerry reminded Russian President Putin (who admittedly needed no reminder) and EU allies that U.S. foreign policy had been based on a Sphere of Influence theory since the early in the 19th century. Then this week, our representative reaffirmed that we did not feel constrained by treaty obligations on human rights in foreign policy. Now we are negotiating with Russia over Ukraine and Crimea.

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