Saturday, February 21, 2009

Climate Change Trumps Human Rights

Secretary of State Hilllary Clinton is in China during her first overseas trip in her new position.

One would think that human rights would be at the top of the agenda. But no. Clinton is focusing on what the Obama administration feels is a more serious topic - climate change. The economic crisis and global security also top the list.

Clinton toured a modern gas-fired energy plant in China to underscore the United States' hope that the two nations will work together to reduce greenhouse gases.

All three issues are, of course, important matters. But human rights should not be automatically taken off the table.

The administration fears that talking about Tibet, for example, would overshadow these other issues. Read: make the Chinese more reticent to work with the U.S. on global warming, the economy and security.

But if the secretary of state of the United States, a secretary of state with the stature, no less, of Hilary Clinton, can't raise the issue of human rights with the Chinese, who can?

Avoiding the topic altogether squanders this opportunity to at least get a dialogue going. Who knows? Perhaps Clinton can persuade Beijing to do something about human rights. Stranger things have happened. And as the saying goes; nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We talk about these issues and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on


Anonymous said...

I miss the good old days when we wouldn't work with you if you violated human rights. China uses slave labor and takes the kidneys right out of their "prisoners". Their one-child only policy has resulted in the genocide of millions of chinese baby girls.

Deborah Young

Anonymous said...

It seems climate change does trump human rights right now. Once we work together on climate change, there may be avenues to pursue changes in human rights.

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear: Climate change is about the possibility that in 100 years or less (some believe much less, some don't even believe the 100 years claim, but indulge me) there will be no more human race at all, or it will be reduced to some very small size due to catastrophic failure of the planet's subsystem. Human rights, important as they are, is about the notion that an individual must be treated fairly. If climate change is not dealt with, billions of people will be treated badly. So clearly, it must be more important if you believe in it at all. That may or may not imply you shouldn't talk about the other issues (including finance, war, cancer, and other important matters) but it establishes a sense of true priority.

Kent Pitman

Anonymous said...

If you are being kind you would say that Hilary Clinton was laying down the basis for improved relationships between China and the USA. On the other hand, if you were being unkind, you could say she was appeasing them and dealing with the issues that China felt more comfortable with and avoiding the issues that might upset them.

What Hilary has stuck with are the issues that are common to most nations and dealt with them. To go in on a first foray into China with the issue of their violation of human rights would lay down the USA as some sort of judge of what is right in this world - and that could be arrogance!

So, I am being kind to Hilary and believe that she has followed the correct course. There will be further opportunities to discuss more sensitive issues when they have some sort of relationship established. This does not downgrade the issue of human rights.

THE LonesomeDove said...

Are you surprised that Clinton skirted the human rights issue with the Chinese? Do you feel that her veneer of compassion and patina of humanity is showing signs of… politics as usual?

C’mon, Gary. You’re not a political virgin. Human rights, gay rights, women rights, flatulent congressmen’s rights, senatorial fleas’ rights or whatever the current rights du jour issue either is or can be fabricated, are never anything more than cause célèbres for Democrats when they’re stumping for votes. Hillary isn't stumping for votes right now and neither is Obama. And climate change? Well of course, what might, with the emphasis on might happen in the next gazillion years is far more important than a HUMAN LIFE!

I have to grant the Democrats have had enormous success manipulating various causes, even legitimate ones, in partnership with the Left Coast Hollywood pinheads who believe they’re politically astute. They garner enormous attention and support for the saintly Democrats and their causes. And why not trust the shrewd political minds of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Michael Moron, et al? Doesn’t everyone use them as a barometer of worth and value? Shouldn’t we be only too willing to jump on their self-aggrandizing little wagons? Designer causes rule the day. But sadly neither the pols nor the pinheads seem capable of distinguishing between genuinely worthy and legitimate causes and those that would put pigs in petticoats to salvage their modesty.

Without question there are many people in this world who need help – people who are truly suffering at the hands of others and their misery is heart-wrenching. Their plight should be brought to the attention of the world and whatever pressure can be brought to bear on their behalf should be used to guarantee humane treatment. Unfortunately, those who suffer the most cruelly are usually victimized by their own governments and these regimes tend to be difficult diplomatic nuts to crack. Add to that difficulty the inability of diplomacy to focus on legitimate human rights violations when other groups that are simply chic to support haven’t been weeded out of the garden, e.g. The Hamas, the poor, poor suspected and known terrorists being held at Guantanamo, not to mention the long-suffering millions of illegal aliens living in the United States - to the detriment of its citizens – just to name a few.

There are some human rights organizations performing truly noble work and doing an enormous amount of good, but politicians championing human rights is an oxymoron, in my opinion. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, mind you, but politicians not only are the root cause of most human rights violations, but perfectly capable of turning a blind eye to any issue that doesn’t further their career. They also fail to recognize the levels of importance by which these issues should be categorized so that they can be worked through methodically. They’re all important, but some are life and death while chic, exciting and attention-grabbing others can actually wait. But most politicians have ambitions where their hearts and values should be.

It’s all smoke and mirrors. How vocal would politicians and Hollywood celebrities be if white American men were discriminated against or their rights violated by the government? Would the ACLU file suit? Would a bill be introduced in the House to protect their rights under the Constitution? Oops! Wait... White American men are being discriminated against – and have been for years. By tacit approval, the Democratic Party and the left in general decided that as long as it isn’t one of them personally, it’s quite all right to discriminate against white American men. The very mention of white American men being the victims of discrimination is considered gauche. Afterall, aren’t they the embodiment of all that’s evil in Western civilization, by gauche? But who knows what cause will top the Hit Parade. Today, it's CLIMATE CHANGE! If the wind changes and these politicians figure out that vocalizing discrimination against white American men could benefit them, the winds could shift and if it does, hang onto your legal briefs!

Currently, the Chinese government is guilty of serious human rights violations that should be addressed not avoided. The problem is though, the issue is far too tough and weighty a task for the Obama Administration to take on. To be successful or taken with any sense of gravity by the Chinese requires the skill of an experienced and savvy diplomat, not someone that shared some tea, finger sandwiches and conversation with a few Irish ladies and accepted a bouquet of flowers from a little girl - while dodging imaginary bullets. Discussing vital issues with the Chinese heads of state one on one as the Secretary of State is a far cry from the First Lady giving a speech at the UN’s World Conference on Women. Climate change, yeah! That's the ticket!

Hillary is getting a pass on this one from the Democrats, the majority of the left and the media because it’s understood she’s a lightweight that has to follow the boss's orders. President Diplomacy At Any Cost is sadly lacking any solid experience or know-how himself so he's not exactly a great leader. Moreover when did a Clinton - any Clinton - ever allow personal convictions, integrity or honor to get in the way of political aspirations? Not that a Clinton ever HAD any personal convictions, honor or morals that could trigger a twinge of conscience anyway, so gets a pass from me, too. It wouldn’t be fair to expect more than she’s capable of giving.

One last thought… Hillary Clinton was probably given, and will probably continue to be given, a scripted dialogue with very little wiggle room to use when she was talking to the Chinese. As the country’s chief diplomat, I doubt they want her ad-libbing because she has to avoid making the same types of potentially damaging faux pas that she did during the campaign. We can’t count on hubby, Bill, always being around the way he was during the campaign to provide damage control and say endearingly to cut her some slack, dammit, she’s old and tired. Old and tired won’t cut it with the Chinese or Russians - and I’m not too sure old and tired was much appreciated by Hillary either.

The bottom line is: Hillary Clinton is no Condoleezza Rice. It will probably take a COUPLE of villages just to keep her from tripping over her tongue during the next four years.