Obama's spineless policy toward China's human rights abuses

James Robbins:
When did America become so spineless? There was a time when the world expected the United States to be a resolute voice for human rights, when American diplomacy sought to prick the conscience of dictators. There was an age when we assumed that role with pride. It gave birth to “Ich bin ein Berliner” and “Tear down this wall.”

But now the first principle of American foreign policy is: never hurt anybody's feelings.

Case in point: Last Thursday Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a unanimous consent resolution that would rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy inWashington, D.C. “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” after the noted dissident and Nobel Peace Prizerecipient. He and his wife Liu Xia are currently languishing in a Chinese prison for the crime of promoting political freedom and justice in the communist state. Renaming the plaza would force Chinese diplomats to see Liu Xiaobo’s name on their way to work, and on every piece of mail that crossed their desks.

There is worthy precedent. In 1984, the street in front of the Soviet Embassy was renamed “Andrei Sakharov Plaza,” honoring the famous human rights activist who was in internal exile with his wife Yelena Bonner in Gorky. The measure passed Congress with strong bipartisan backing. Of course, there were naysayers. Columnist Jack Anderson called it a childish "cheap shot." But this symbolic measure did not derail U.S./Soviet relations, and may have helped Sakharov. A year later, Bonner was freedto travel to the United States for medical treatment. A year after that they were both released from Gorky. Who knows, maybe the renaming showed Moscow that the United States was serious.

But that was then. Sen. Cruz’s attempt to tweak Beijing failed when Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., raised an objection. She did not want the Senate to embarrass Chinese president Xi Jinping on his trip to the U.S. "Maybe people don't believe that diplomacy makes a difference,” she said, “but I do." By this definition, diplomacy means that no foreign dictator ever be made to feel a modicum of displeasure or be forced into even a moment of reflection on their contemptible ways.
What Cruz suggest was in fact a form of diplomacy that challenged human rights abuses in a non military way.   That is what real diplomacy can look like when the wimps are not in charge.


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