Amnesty Intl.'s Fair Criticism Of Hillary Clinton

In response to some, in my view, unfortunate remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International levelled some harsh but appropriate criticism:

[Secretary] Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet. "But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing.

More . . .

T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was "shocked and extremely disappointed" by Clinton's remarks. "The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues," he said. "But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future US initiatives to protect those rights in China," he said.

I think Secretary Clinton may have stated a reality, but it was unwise of her to make these public statements. At least, that is my opinion.

Speaking for me only

< Reasonable Disagreements On Afghanistan Policy | Late Night: Democracy >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    China is never going to give up Tibet (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 09:58:35 PM EST
    and I think everyone in the world knows it. But human rights in China goes well beyond Tibet, and so I agree that Hillary shouldn't have said what she said, even though it's obviously true.

    "Can't interfere" (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:51:34 PM EST
    is the killer phrase.  If she'd said, "But we also have to deal with," it wouldn't have seemed quite so dismissive, or quite so much letting China off the hook.

    That said, decades of fuming at China about human rights hasn't produced a damn thing in the way of results that I'm aware of.  They aren't going to change one iota of the way they totally believe they have to do things in order to maintain control.


    Yep.... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:49:57 AM EST
    sounds a lot like economic concerns trump human rights concerns...aka money over flesh and blood.

    Clinton was being honest at least...we kinda care about human rights, but we care about cheap imports and economic issues more.


    Sounded to me like our economic (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:00:08 PM EST
    position with respect to China is really bad.  So bad that we admitted that we have basically have no leverage.

    As to whether or not she should have said it, I don't know.  Dealing with the Chinese government is a particularly tricky business under good circumstances.


    And Taiwan? that's the more (none / 0) (#9)
    by ThatOneVoter on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:41:02 PM EST
    interesting question.

    At some point China will ... (5.00 / 0) (#54)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:47:23 AM EST
    retake Taiwan.  And though the US will oppose the action, they will do nothing about it.

    There is "one China" (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:55:06 PM EST
    Just don't ask which one is the one.

    Let Freedom Ring. (none / 0) (#75)
    by melpol on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:33:08 PM EST
    Freedom of speech is a guarantee that every person has the opportunity to be heard. Silence gives a racist or rapist the opportunity to operate unmolested. But we must also have a well funded Justice Department that is always on the alert for violators of a person civil rights. It must be staffed by tens of thousands of our most liberal minded investigators. They should be given the freedom and time to dig deep and wide. Those depriving others of the right to: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" must be dealt with quickly and harshly. Major civil right violators must be hung by the Justice Department in front of shopping malls. Enough Is Enough!!

    What are these Groups suggesting? (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by Richjo on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:08:09 PM EST
    Should the US refuse to cooperate with China to address Global Warming if they don't give into our demands on certain human rights issues? The chances of that working are slim to none, and in the process we would be endangering the lives of future generations all around the globe. Does not the global economic crisis pose a threat to the fundamental well being of people all around the globe? China's cooperation on these issues will be fundamental to meaningfully solving these problems and to claim we should risk that to apply pressure on certain issues would be irresponsible. The US cannot simply impose its will on China and the desire on the part of these groups for the US to pretend that it can endangers grave consequences for the whole world. A China that is a meaningful partner with the US on important issues is far more likely to change than one that is being called out when we simply don't have the chops to back up any sort of threat.

    I'm suggesting (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:11:03 PM EST
    That giving up the rhetorical weapon was a mistake.

    A weapon becomes useless (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by Richjo on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:28:49 PM EST
    if you threaten to use it and fail to follow through on that threat. Pressing China on Human Rights is not mutally exclusive with a commitment to cooperate on fundamental issues. To retain that weapon would require us to take the position that our rhetorical posturing is more important than meaningful cooperation necessary to avert potential economic and ecological crisis. China is more likely to change when it can do so from a position of strenght than when doing so would be percieved as a sign of weakness. It will change when it can be convinced to do so as a partner, not when it will be coerced into doing so as an inferior. We were promised smart power from this adminstration and to me smart power is best deployed when we do so from a perspective that emphasizes a frank assessment of the reality of a situation.

    Insightful comment. (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:54:29 PM EST
    Agreed with your main point, that her comment is (5.00 / 3) (#61)
    by Brownell on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:28:13 AM EST
    bad news, but how can anyone seriously think that SECRETARY OF STATE Clinton made the statement without direction from PRESIDENT Obama?  Is CDS so alive and well that your commenters think she determined a policy direction all by herself?  It is President Obama who softpedaled on the timetable for closing Guantanamo and court cases involving Guantanamo prisoners. Why should softpedaling on China be either a surprise or an indication of Secretary Clinton's initiative?

    You're right on Big Tent (none / 0) (#29)
    by mexboy on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:07:56 AM EST
    This is the same as when Obama said he would meet with rouge world leaders without any pre conditions.

    I am a big admirer of Mrs. Clinton, but here she dropped the ball and caused harm.


    The Same? (5.00 / 0) (#52)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:45:14 AM EST
    How is that? Unless you are arbitrarily keeping a tit for tat ala Dem primary between Hillary and Obama, I would like to know your reasoning, which seems flawed to me.

    The same as in: (5.00 / 0) (#91)
    by mexboy on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:19:20 PM EST
    Giving away your advantage to negotiate.

    I'm obviously talking about principles here.

    The primary is way over, you should get over it too. No one is keeping a "tit for tat." We can  compare tactics to illustrate a point without rehashing the primaries all over again.


    Don't Understand (1.00 / 1) (#92)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 06:34:40 PM EST
    How is Obama's agreeing to meet with, let's say, Iran giving away any advantage to negotiate?

    Sorry I do not see it. That was a radical shift from BushCo who only would negotiate with serious preconditions which got US nowhere. Do you think Bolton's way of negotiating got us anywhere, or held an advantage? I don't.

    Oh and to be clear, I was never in a frenzy during the primary. Both Dem nominees seemed about the same to me. I voted for Hillary and when she lost I naturally supported Obama. It was the cultists that bothered me. And they were about the same too, be they for Obama or for Hillary. Still not over for some here, that is for sure.


    If you don't see it, I can't help you. (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by mexboy on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:57:02 PM EST
    It seems to me, you're just looking for an opening to preach and rant...I'll pass. Good day.

    Oh and to be clear, I was never in a frenzy during the primary. Both Dem nominees seemed about the same to me. I voted for Hillary and when she lost I naturally supported Obama. It was the cultists that bothered me. And they were about the same too, be they for Obama or for Hillary. Still not over for some here, that is for sure.

    Cop Out (5.00 / 0) (#94)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:34:40 PM EST
    You have nothing. Your comparison was BS, and now it is clear.

    ROTFLMYAO (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by mexboy on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:42:20 PM EST
    Laugh All You Want (5.00 / 0) (#96)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:46:33 PM EST
    If it helps you save face.

    You are hysterical, dude. (none / 0) (#101)
    by mexboy on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:22:54 PM EST
    Go take your meds.

    Glad To Entertain (none / 0) (#102)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 08:42:50 PM EST
    A good laugh may help you.

    Thanin, What is your problem? (none / 0) (#103)
    by mexboy on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 05:13:09 AM EST
    You have troll rated me on different occasions, including three today.
    You don't have to agree with my comments and you may down rate me if you want, but you may not troll rate me when I am not a troll.

    It is obvious you have personal issues with me, but it does not give you the right to troll rate me.

    I am bringing this up with Jeralyn.


    Hypocrisy? (none / 0) (#104)
    by squeaky on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 11:35:47 AM EST
    Only care about troll ratings when they are handed out to you?

    At least it means that someone did not skip over your comment when they saw your name, as I usually do. Troll ratings mean nothing here, they only speak of the rater.


    You need to back off! (2.00 / 1) (#105)
    by mexboy on Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 04:45:24 PM EST
    I seriously am beginning to think you have a problem. I find your behavior towards me bordering on obsession or stalking and you need to stop. And, your comment makes no sense, since I've never troll rated anyone.

     It seems as though you are just looking for a fight.

    Only care about troll ratings when they are handed out to you?

    I'd appreciate it if you stick to the issues with the people who care to debate you. I don't,  so back off.


    Just imagine... (none / 0) (#45)
    by maddog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:54:13 AM EST
    If Condi Rice or George Bush had said this?  I am sure they would have been characterized as more than "unfortunate remarks."  And they would have been more than "unwise."  Just my opinion.

    I wonder, though, if it would have gotten (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:57:01 AM EST
    the press coverage Hillary got? CDS didn't die just because she isn't POTUS.

    It would have gotten (none / 0) (#68)
    by maddog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:51:13 PM EST
    more because all of the mainstream outlets would have picked up on it as well as the democrats in congress, etc.

    Looked At Another Way (none / 0) (#71)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:01:23 PM EST
    How much of a surprise would it have been if Rice or some other Bush admin person had made this comment?

    I think it is an indication that that this is a new administration with new policy still being rolled out (or not). So people are paying attention and dissecting each utterance. And, presumably, expectations about attention to human rights is higher for Dems in power than they ever were for Bush-Cheney.

    Also, it sounds like something old diplomacy hands didn't expect to hear so openly articulated, judging by some of the reactions in that community.


    Do we... (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:09:20 PM EST
    ...as a country have the moral authority to lecture others on human rights?  Or is it seen as so much bluster after all the horrifying things that have come to light about the abuses carried out by the "Land of the Free".  

    We need to clean up our own act before we tell others what they shouldn't be doing.  

    In other news, Socks has passed.  Hopefully, the clouds are made of catnip in kitty heaven.

    Super-handsome cat (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:56:19 PM EST
    that Socks.  Nice and muscular and slim, loaded with the self-confidence a self-respecting cat should have, wonderful markings.  Well cared for and properly fed superior quality food to get to 19.  Good boy.  RIP.

    So true (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Amiss on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:30:55 AM EST
    How can we as a nation tell others how they should deal with human rights when at least over the last 8 years and beyond, we have commited such atrocities in the name of freedom?

    We must clean our own house before we start telling others how they should run theirs.

    I think SoS Clinton is between a rock and a hard place speaking about human rights until Obama decides to clean up America's own policies. Especially after what came out today about his views on those held on our behalf in the ME.


    the country that has the most people (none / 0) (#77)
    by of1000Kings on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 02:08:03 PM EST
    behind bars and without freedom is lecturing about human right?

    Don't Believe Lecturing (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:59:23 AM EST
    ever does any good--world stage or otherwise, frankly.

    But even with our long history of oppression, we've managed to change many of our own monstrous habits, even as they creep back in from time to time.

     I'm sorry to say I doubt we will ever be the pure beacon of integrity on human rights we aspire to be and present ourselves as being, but we have done better at times and can now (with Bush-Cheney gone) work to do better again. We need to keep the pressure on ourselves as well as on the rest of the world. This--rightly or wrongly--used to be our brand.

    I agree with BTD that while Sec'ty Clinton was expressing a pragmatic view, it was also a strategically unfortunate one.


    Our country's transgressions (none / 0) (#64)
    by coast on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:38:31 AM EST
    pale in comparison to those of China and others.  So yes I do think we have a moral authority.

    So, it's a matter... (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:54:04 PM EST
    ...of degree?  A subjective measurement that is the result of the bias and perception of each party?  

    I can pretty much guarantee that the Chinese don't perceive their transgressions to be as bad as ours.  Perception is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

    When you consider that there is nothing we can do to the Chinese to make them change their ways (and they know it) aside from presenting a case to the worldwide court of public opinion, it is much harder to make an effective argument when your position is hypocritical. No matter the degree of the hypocrisy.

    When you say one thing and do another, it doesn't give you leverage or authority in any negotiation or discussion.


    I think... (none / 0) (#100)
    by maddog on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:14:26 PM EST
    our human rights record far exceeds that of any country in the world.  What would you call our abuses, keeping people locked up in well kept prisons eating 3 meals a day?

    Come on now.  You lose all credibility when you compare anything the US has done with China or the like.


    Does anyone know (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by 1jpb on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:14:21 PM EST
    if our government talking tough against human rights violators is effective?

    I would never suggest that our government shouldn't talk tough, because it seems immoral not to do so.  But, is there a verifiable track record of this sort of talk moving violators to alter their behavior?  Or, are we more focused on the fact that it is unseemly to not protest?

    Of course, I can see how it could be argued that using appeasing, or just neutral, language would at best have no effect.  And, this could be taken as a green light for a violator to act even worse.  That must be the reason for concern.

    Even so, it'd be nice to be able to document circumstances where tough talk resulted in change.

    Tough talk is a start... (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:25:45 AM EST
    necessary to raise awareness, but by itself it accomplishes nothing...it's just talk, you need to put your money where your mouth is.

    Look at South Africa...boycotts of the country and their goods were what was ultimately effective in ending apartheid.  

    Imagine if every country on earth refused to do business with us until we gave every prisoner in our custody habeus corpus rights...I think we'd cave before the world did.  The same could work with China or Saudi Arabia...though it would involve some suffering all around...nothing worthwhile is easy.


    As far as I know, in China (none / 0) (#56)
    by Chatham on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:52:24 AM EST
    The tough talk has succeeded in pissing off many, many Chinese citizens who feel that the US is unfairly picking on their country.  And in doing so, cuts off paths where we might work with them on actual advancement.  I suppose if it makes us feel better doing so, who cares, right?  Add to this that many people seem concerned about "human rights", but when pressed for specifics few can really supply them (I'm sure Amnesty can, though I have other issues with them).

    Clinton says that she will continue to bring up concerns, but that can't stop the US from working with China over important issues.  I'm trying to see how people could find that problematic.


    international honesty (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by souvarine on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:24:29 PM EST
    I'm all for Amnesty calling her out, there is no reason they should permit their issue to be subordinate to anything else. But at the same time I prefer honesty from my elected officials and even diplomats, especially when it gives the cocktail weenie set palpitations:
    Asia is all about face. What she's done is to create a huge face problem for the North Korean government.

    They should get out more, their Orientalism has become hackneyed.

    She speaks the truth, there are a set of global economic issues that supersede our concern for human rights. They do not displace those issues, but the economic crisis and global warming are appropriately higher on our agenda, and it would be dishonest (and frankly arrogant) for her to pretend that our concern for human rights will prevent us from making progress with China on other critical issues. Furthermore, this kind of honesty is what Obama promised.

    So money trumps humanity? (none / 0) (#30)
    by mexboy on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:10:24 AM EST
    humanity (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by souvarine on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:47:44 AM EST
    The spreading starvation, political instability and violence that will follow this economic crisis, and the mass dislocation and death that will follow global warming are human concerns. China is a critical factor in addressing both global warming and the economic crisis.

    The more we can engage China, the more integrated they are into the world community, the more we can pressure them on human rights.


    Personally... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:32:58 AM EST
    I think I'd rather be free, dead broke, and hungry than fat and tyrannized, or fat and in a cage.

    How many victims of human rights abuse are acceptable in the name of economic stability?  I guess that is the ultimate question. Like say Hitler was still around exterminating jews homosexuals....would we turn a blind eye to that in the name of global economic stability?   I think not....but maybe I'm wrong, maybe we would.  Actually we kinda did until the Germans attacked Britain and occupied France, right?  Americans got rich thanks to Hitler...and they get rich off the Party.


    false choice (5.00 / 3) (#63)
    by souvarine on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:29:33 AM EST
    No victims of human rights abuses are acceptable. The Chinese are not Nazis, they are not even as totalitarian as they were when Nixon went to China.

    What you would accept for yourself is not the issue, as an American (I'm guessing) there is very little risk that you will starve. For myself I would give up my own freedom for the lives of my children.

    The question is how much and how many millions of other people's lives you are willing to sacrifice to force the Chinese government to change. And whether that kind of pressure will change the Chinese government in the way you seek. Clinton said that human rights are important, and that she brought the issue up with Chinese leaders. But she won't hold progress on the economic, global warming and North Korean crises hostage to concessions on human rights.


    I think the key is the credit crisis, (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 10:24:38 PM EST
    which, because China owns so much of our debt, and because we need them to continue to provide us with credit, means that we are in no position to be making demands of China on human rights, or much of anything else.

    I appreciate Amnesty International's desire to hold China to a higher standard, but I also think we need to first hold ourselves to a higher standard.

    I'm shaky on this (none / 0) (#19)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:23:05 AM EST
    but I'm not sure "owning debt" and extending credit are the same thing.  China did order its banks to temporarily stop inter-bank lending to U.S. banks at the height of our financial system freeze-up in mid-September, but I can't find out whether they've resumed it or not.  I don't know how large a role China plays in inter-bank lending to the U.S., but I don't believe it's all that big a one.

    Could be wrong on that, and I hope somebody who knows will speak up.

    But China, or the Chinese, do buy up a lot of our Treasury bonds and other debt, including those cursed fancy securitizations of securitizations of mortgages, because there's an enormous amount of private, not government, money sloshing around in China generated by their now permanent "experiment" with capitalism that has nowhere to go domestically. And believe it or not, U.S. government debt is still pretty much the safest place in the world to park money.

    So yes, China is deeply entwined in our economy and financial system, but it would hurt them even more than it would hurt us to suddenly try to disentangle.

    Not to mention they are for now utterly dependent on the U.S. consumer market to fuel their own economy, which is also tanking.

    IOW, from my only faintly informed perspective, I don't think, and I haven't heard any knowledgeable commentary that says, there's much danger of China screwing us over financially no matter how mad they get at us for yapping at them about Tibet.


    In my view (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Steve M on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:27:05 AM EST
    it's pretty much mutually assured destruction, to the point where discussing who would suffer more is a moot point.  If the Soviet Union can destroy the world ten times over, and we can destroy the world twelve times over, it's not like that gives us the ability to dictate terms to the Soviets.

    Economic MAD (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by andgarden on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:43:32 AM EST
    I like it.

    yeah, god forbid (5.00 / 5) (#11)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:05:05 PM EST
    a public official speak the truth in public. clearly, it will the carefully built house of cards to collapse.

    unlike the bush administration, that saw the issue of "human rights" as so much rubbish for the pile, SoS Clinton (and presumably, the obama administration) recognizes it as a valid concern, and one to be pushed by the US. that said, if global chaos results, from not dealing forcefully with the economic crisis, human rights will never have an opportunity to be addressed.

    that's pretty much what SoS Clinton was saying, i'm just surprised AI didn't seem to get it. but, they're entitled to their outrage.

    It's their job to be outraged (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:24:50 AM EST
    Good for them.  We need some loud folks doing advocacy who refuse to acknowledge complexity, seems to me.  Otherwise, everybody just sits around and says, "Oh, well, but" and nothing ever changes.

    Maybe (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Steve M on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:23:14 PM EST
    I dunno, hard to be too critical of honesty.  It feels increasingly silly to act like we have some kind of leverage over China in the current environment.

    Someday when we're in a position to actually have some kind of meaningful negotiation, we can press this harder.  Otherwise, I'm not sure I really need defense counsel to remind me in every single phone call that he'd prefer I would just dismiss the case.

    You also do not need counsel (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:48:46 AM EST
    to tell you don't worry about the case either.

    Well said (none / 0) (#21)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:25:29 AM EST
    And I'm still chuckling...

    Clinton vis-a-vis Amnesty International (none / 0) (#79)
    by christinep on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:02:06 PM EST
    At first, I wondered if the Secretary's words were a little mangled or a strategic mistake as well. Today, the matter looks a bit different to me. Hillary Clinton's own background and previous outspoken comments in this very arena establish her bona fides in the area of human rights and China. Perhaps, the pragmatic approach--which our new administration has touted--is truly reflected in the approach now questioned by Amnesty International. While it is the obvious response for a human rights organization, it may be that the pragmatic (or honest) statement made by the Secretary was delivered to a number of audiences that she planned to have during the subsequent China visit. That is, the deliberate jump shift was meant to invite a responsive jump shift from the Chinese. That kind of negotiating tactic may prove quite successful.  Reflection: When I was a teenager, I attended a small gathering and dinner to hear the noted political/community philosopher and strategist, Saul Alinsky. In the course of that evening, he made several comments which I recall to this day the political dynamic often swirls in fantastical ways. For example, he talked about how to focus on the goal ("the whole loaf" as he termed it), but being ready to adapt incremental steps that would eventually ease the way to the goal ("the half loaf.") Additionally, he talked about personality types and illustrated what personality accepts what political step/compromise/goal/etc. To me, changing the tempo and dynamic of the diplomatic approach to a country may yield a bit more than the tried and tired technique. (And, it in no way foregoes the stalemated rights issue. So long as the focus remains on the goal, the diplomatic Secretary returns to the matter by another avenue.) So...that's my take.

    Clinton Is Being Realistic (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by aeguy on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:34:24 PM EST
    Sorry if the truth offended anyone.

    Clinton was absolutely correct (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Green26 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:36:23 PM EST
    in what she said. I'm sorry, but the views of full-time human rights advocates don't take precedence over everything else that's important in the world today.

    In My Life, Bill Clinton writes (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by weltec2 on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 11:36:39 PM EST
    about his meeting at the Whitehouse with Jiang Zemin in which they discussed the issue of human rights. BC writes that, "after Jiang went back to Blair House, I went to bed thinking that China would be forced by the imperatives of modern society to become more open, and that in the new century it was more likely that our nations would be partners than adversaries" (emphasis mine, 786). I think this is pretty much the way HRC is looking at the problem as well.

    But But But But weltec2 (none / 0) (#38)
    by Politalkix on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:18:56 AM EST
    If HRC really believes that China would be forced by the imperatives of modern society to become more open, why didn't she extend this line of thinking to Cuba during the primaries? After all the United States would have a lot more influence in Cuba than we will ever have in China if we opened up Cuba through trade.

    this would have happened already. (none / 0) (#86)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 04:04:13 PM EST
    It has not.

    What if... (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Rashomon66 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:32:37 AM EST
    If Condoleezza Rice had made these statements about China more of you would be opposed to the viewpoint. I get the feeling there is a double standard being applied. If the Bush Admin did it then it is outrageous. If the Obama Admin does it then everyone takes a more reasoned nuanced approach.
    Human Rights either matter or they don't. Amnesty is right to level this criticism.

    Well (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Steve M on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:35:00 AM EST
    it's pretty easy to tell people you think they would be hypocrites in some imaginary situation, but it's also incredibly pointless.

    Assessment of statements, (none / 0) (#57)
    by KeysDan on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:06:07 AM EST
    in my view, need to be made within the context of administrations (Bush v Obama) as well as the histories of the individuals making them (Rice v Clinton).

    Have you ever noticed? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Paul Carr on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 04:50:09 AM EST
    It's the right wing politicians who beat the drums on "human rights" in China.  People like Prime Minister Steven Harper of Canada (the guy who prorogued his parliament in December because he feared that they would pass a motion of no-confidence in him) and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

    Bush Foreign Policy vs. HRC Foreign policy (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by kidneystones on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:16:27 AM EST
    The buck stops where?

    Amnesty International is right to criticize US policy. US foreign policy is not formulated by Colin Powell anymore than it is by any other Secretary of State, particularly when it comes to criticizing a nation like China on Human Rights.

    Taiwan and China just signed a free-trade agreement and the Asian region is looking increasingly to other Asian partners as US economic and trade policies flounder.

    Voters chose hope over experience.

    I'm only surprised HRC hasn't been blamed for the collapse of the stock-market.

    I have a problem (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by NYShooter on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:42:58 AM EST
    with judgementalty, or judgementalism, in general, and would much prefer a "mind your own business" attitude, or approach for America. Barring things like genocide, or truly heinous behavior, we Americans would do ourselves a favor by just cooling it. When I say, "we Americans," I'm talking about America, the country, or America, as in our Government. Individual people, or groups of people, are certainly free to express their feelings in many different ways.

    First of all, most people, and/or countries, don't like it. I mean, it's just a normal human trait; who likes being criticized? And in public, no less. And, for America, at least, passing judgment on other countries would be perceived, rightly, more than a little hypocritical in many, if not in most cases.

    I certainly don't want to get into a back and forth with anyone, you know, swapping statistics, arguing the relative severity of violations, and so on. It will always be relative, and will always be perceived by different people in different ways.

    As long as America has barbaric, and inhumane statistics vis-à-vis one third of it's citizens, She would do best to keep her mouth shut, avert her eyes, and talk about other things like trade, education, health care, the environment, etc.

    Oh, and that little thing we had with Hillary and Sarah in the last election cycle? It proved one thing, at least. It proved our government got it right when it proclaimed that the majority of Americans are also the minority....women. Can you imagine? Sexism is so perverse, so hard wired in our country  that our brainiac statisticians in the DOJ had no problem putting a numerical value on the damage suffered by our female citizens..........25% I remember reading somewhere about (maybe someone here can help me out with this) statisticians being able to develop an empirical number, taking certain criteria into account, showing that a girl born in America can expect going through life enjoying 75% of the blessings our country bestows on its males.  

    That 51% of us Americans should need to seek relief  from our government, and be designated a "protected group," is an outrage.

    America has a lot of work left to do. Maybe someday , sometime in the future, we'll get it all put together. Until that day comes, maybe we should cool it with pointing fingers,

    Better still..... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:36:54 AM EST
    America has a lot of work left to do. Maybe someday , sometime in the future, we'll get it all put together. Until that day comes, maybe we should cool it with pointing fingers,

    Maybe we should teach by example and DO something to end the human rights violations we allow against ethnic, gender, religious, aged, and financial class groups right here at home. It's just another slogan, really.


    exactly (none / 0) (#74)
    by NYShooter on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:22:41 PM EST
    For some reason I need a thousand words to say what you did in one sentence.....lol

    One dimensional chess (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by ricosuave on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:33:24 AM EST
    is clearly not acceptable.  She needed to bump it up to eleven dimensions.

    Clinton said nothing really new.  The Obama policy toward China seems to be the same as everyone else's for the last 25 years.

    Amnesty was right to criticize the statement, just as they have been right to criticize our impotence on Chinese human rights for decades.  That's their job, though it is notable that this statement and thier criticism is nowhere to be found on their website.

    But thank heavens that this is just Clinton going completely solo--not the policy of the Obama administration!  Reading this article linked here, one would not know she even worked for a government.  

    At some point we have to accept that she is the mouthpiece for Obama here (yes...I know she doesn't disagree) and is giving the position of his administration.  Here is the only pseudo-acknowledgment of that in the article:

    China has greeted President Barack Obama's administration nervously, believing he would press Beijing harder on human rights and trade issues than former president George W. Bush.

    I am not sure where they got that idea, though Obama did promise in the campaign that he would press China to end support for regimes like Iran and Sudan.  I guess that one is still open.

    Any reprimand from Obama here? (5.00 / 6) (#39)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:22:20 AM EST

    Well then she's promoting his policy....he should be criticized as much as her, but that will never happen.

    The ultimate reprimand... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:42:46 AM EST
    belongs to all of us.  We elect the people who commit abuses and turn a blind eye to the abuses of others around the globe.  We sell the blood-stained goods, buy the blood-stained goods.

    Like Carlin used to say (paraphrase)..."there are no innocent victims..we're all guilty the day we are born."  Though I guess some are more guilty than others.


    Why is it (5.00 / 0) (#58)
    by indy in sc on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:10:59 AM EST
    that when Clinton does something we don't like, she is just promoting Obama policy and when she does something we do like, the credit is all hers?

    I think in both circumstances, her actions are tied to the administration.  Unless, like you point out, she does something that is reprimanded by Obama, they speak with one voice.  I'm sure she will later "clarify" these remarks and they will be speaking with one voice then too.


    Fair point (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:23:45 AM EST
    not really. (none / 0) (#66)
    by cpinva on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:09:45 PM EST
    Fair point

    show me where it's been asserted that this is SoS clinton acting on her own accord. presumptively, she's representing the views of the administration she serves. in the absence of any confirmable evidence to the contrary, that's accepted as a given, by anyone with half a functioning brain.

    show me where it's been asserted that all good stuff is clinton acting on her own, all bad stuff is clinton acting on behalf of the administration?

    so really, it was kind of a stupid point.

    AI is a great organization, no question about it. however, unlike the US gov't, they only have one mission to focus on, and they're not responsible to anyone but themselves. it's a fine mission, no question there, but it comes complete with tunnel vision; it keeps them from seeing all those other pesky issues that have to be dealt with too.

    and so, all their energies are spent on righteous outrage, as well they should be. unfortunately, our government needs to also take into account our citizen's being fed, housed, clothed too. not to suggest our people have no interest in the welfare of other people, but they're more likely to push for it when they aren't worried about getting kicked out of their dwelling, or where their child's next meal is coming from, or if they'll have a job tomorrow.

    just sayin'.......................


    Shouldn't CNN change their initials to CDS? (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Sweet Sue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:34:30 AM EST
    Of course, CNN is "reporting" that Clinton said "human rights should not interfere...", rather than "the pressing of human rights should not interfere..." Big difference.

    A gentle reminder, but (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Honyocker on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:18:46 AM EST
    Hillary Clinton is now the Secretary of State, which means that she does not speak for herself on foreign policy issues (and in fact, Mrs. Clinton's rhetoric towards Beijing was much stronger as a candidate for the Democratic nomination).  Whatever Hillary Clinton has to say about China is simply passing along the wishes of her new boss, the president.  So Amnesty International's criticism, while wholly valid, is being directed at the wrong person.

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#60)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:23:30 AM EST
    But then cabinet members often stray 'off the reservation' in their remarks. Look at Biden.

    Still, presidents are ultimately responsible for what their people say and do--however much or little they may agree with or like the statements or actions.


    economic meltdown (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by jedimom on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:47:01 AM EST
    who does everyone think is paying for all our stimulus et al? CHINA, if we pixx them off right now it WILL be the depression on steroids here and globally

    so much for pragmatic and getting the big picture BWAAAHAA!!!

    Man these people crack me up!!!

    and who does everyone think gave her her general framework? OBAMA of course!

    Didn't President Obama (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:08:10 PM EST
    say we'll be in deep trouble if China decides not to loan the U.S. anymore money?

    It's amnesty Internatoional, dude (none / 0) (#82)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:51:19 PM EST
    They kind of have a focus....and it isn't the big picture.

    Amnesty Intel should follow up here (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by jedimom on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:18:35 AM EST
    spend their time lobbying Obama on this news from HA

       Detainees being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan cannot use US courts to challenge their detention, the US says.

        The justice department ruled that some 600 so-called enemy combatants at Bagram have no constitutional rights.

        Most have been arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of waging a terrorist war against the US.

        The ruling has disappointed human rights lawyers who had hoped the Obama administration would take a different line to that of George W Bush.

        Prof Barbara Olshansky, the lead counsel in a legal challenge on behalf of four Bagram detainees, told the BBC the justice department's decision not to reform the rules was both surprising and "enormously disappointing".

    The exact quote from the Barack Obama-era Department of Justice?  "Having considered the matter, the government adheres to its previously articulated position."  The DoJ and the DoD consider Bagram detainees "unlawful combatants" without any rights to access the US court system and with no recourse for release.

    Sigh ... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 11:28:35 AM EST
    Same REALLY IS the new change.

    In This Case (none / 0) (#69)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:52:11 PM EST
    yes, and it's unconscionable.

    The Obama administration needs to be challenged on this and made to go on record in greater detail what their justification for this is--however specious their reasoning, it needs to be hung around their neck.

    They need to OWN this policy and not be permitted to hide behind a boilerplate: "We're letting the exiting policy stand." cop out.


    Honestly (none / 0) (#72)
    by Steve M on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:02:22 PM EST
    I cannot think of the flip side of the argument you ask for - the justification for granting habeas rights to prisoners held in a war zone.  It doesn't really compute for me.

    POW (none / 0) (#73)
    by souvarine on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:11:11 PM EST
    Isn't the flip side that prisoners in a war zone should be treated like POWs under the Geneva Conventions, rather than as some fantasy category of "enemy combatant" that the Bush administration claimed is not covered by the conventions?

    Or am I misunderstanding you?


    Well, Perhaps I Reveal My Ignorance (none / 0) (#76)
    by daring grace on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:33:18 PM EST
    of the law in these cases.

    There seems so much shadowy malfeasance in the manner that these kinds of prisoners are taken and incarcerated and the blanket designation 'illegal foreign fighters aka terrorists' is assigned that I confess to a certain kneejerk intolerance for it all.

    I don't trust the old Bush-Cheney system and would like to see it, at the very least, examined in the light of some day so that we can be reassured that continuing ANY of their policies related to this kind of thing is legitimate.


    I don't see why ... (none / 0) (#78)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 02:53:40 PM EST
    it should be treated any differently from Guantanamo.

    Otherwise, such protections could always be avoided by placing long-term detention facilities (i.e. prisons) in so-called "war zones."


    It's fair criticism of us -- and of Obama (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Cream City on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 12:35:53 PM EST
    since she speaks for Obama -- and thus for us.

    I'm not happy about it.  But at least I understand that, as Amnesty International surprisingly does not seem to do.  Thought it was an organization savvier than that.  Must want to play to the CDS and not take this early opportunity to pressure the president to, well, change our policies.

    She's right (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:50:01 PM EST
    we absolutely have to work with them to reduce GHG emissions, or we are screwed.

    I don't know if she could have said it better, but facts is facts.

    Funny (none / 0) (#27)
    by koshembos on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 01:51:26 AM EST
    Kumar basically says that the Chinese are dumb and don't understand that the US has interests other than human right and and will pursue them no matter what.  Hillary just revealed a big secret she shouldn't have and now the Chinese know thee truth they didn't know before.

    At best, Kumar can be understood as demanding that the US drop everything and deal with human rights in China.

    You think the Chinese did not know this? (none / 0) (#85)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 04:02:52 PM EST
    but (none / 0) (#34)
    by Bemused on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 08:32:00 AM EST
      "But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters

      If we are going to focus on honesty as a justification here, we should be very particular about word choice. This isn't an honest statement,

      An honest statement would read:

      "But we are unwilling to  press on those issues if doing so will interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."

       "Can't" denotes impossibility of doing something. We certainly could press China on Tibet and other human rights issues more adamantly. We just don't want to do so because we put other interests (our perceived national interest) first.

       In some contexts literal interpretation of statements might be considered nitpicking, but this is a context where speakers choose their words very carefully and Clinton did not speak the truth.


    yep yep (none / 0) (#37)
    by Bemused on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:01:46 AM EST
      She was also something less than honest about putting "global climate change" in there as an implied concern that trumps human rights. more accurately, global climate change and environmental concerns generally are other concerns that along with human rights rank well behind our perceived economic interests.

      If concern about the global environment was anywhere near a priority we would not continue to pursue policies designed to increase production and therefore the dirtiest forms of power production in China and other countries with the most lax attitude toward the environment. It's pretty clear we have little problem with carbon emissions (not to mention labor exploitation) because we value cheaper goods more highly.


    It's called triage (none / 0) (#43)
    by nellre on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 09:41:37 AM EST
    How many people will starve, thirst and/or be displaced if we of planet Earth fail to act on global warming?
    China's C02 output has surpassed the US. The feedback loops that will cause abrupt and dangerous climate change are already engaging. Earth is in danger of losing her life.

    Amnesty International's criticism is myopic. I am embarrassed for them.

    Obviously (none / 0) (#55)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:48:42 AM EST
    To make such a blunder like this Hillary (and Obama) want something from China, and were willing to take heat from human rights groups for it. My guess is cooperation not just on global warming but the Pakistan Afghanistan issue and North Korea.

    I am sure that this was done quite intentionally and may be how Chinese three dimensional chess is played.

    which means it wasn't a blunder. (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by coigue on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 03:52:48 PM EST
    Let's face it, for the past 8 years (and more) we have become increasingly indebted to the Chinese, and that means they are our master in some respects. We have to wiggle out from under that before we can make demands.

    Yes (none / 0) (#98)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:00:05 AM EST
    We have to wiggle out from under

    That's why is had to be a blunder. If amnesty international did criticize it would not have been an effective blunder. Diplomacy at work..


    Is it a blunder? (none / 0) (#97)
    by nycstray on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:46:41 AM EST
    I don't think so. I think it is what it is. Even though she's "known", this is a new admin that she's out rep-ing and this is her initial visit. I read it as find the common ground they can work on and get to the roadblocks a bit down the road after they get a grove going. On the other hand, she could have walked in and told them what she (Obama?) really thought, and then where would we be?

    I thought that was the "new" plan for dealing with issues, countries, Republicans, etc. Common ground etc . . . Anyone that thinks she's sold out human rights for money really does have a case of CDS. She stated what her intended method was to be and how it would help in the HR arena. Somewhere I saw a comment that had two different reports of her quote and what they thought it meant. One was the CNN version and the other Reuters. Interesting comparison. PBS had a China "expert"" on and he basically said her approach was correct. (for what that's worth :) ) I think there's still some fauxrage floating around and it's really not doing us any favors.

    Of course the admin wants more than cooperation on GW from China. I think it goes beyond the Pak/Af issues also. Aside from the economy, trade issues come to mind . . . . lordy, if they could clean up their environment, their growing and production issues along with labor . . . I see a few HR issues right there that can be fixed for starters.

    Interesting times we live in. Bill's a racist and Hillary is selling out on Human Rights  ;)


    It's Amnesty's job... (none / 0) (#87)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 04:15:05 PM EST
    ... to be a purist on human rights issues, and it's not Hillary's. But I'd tend to agree that actually stating that human rights take a backseat to economic urgency was unnecessary, and probably unwise, in that it tends to remove even the slight degree of leverage the US has on the issue.

    I don't think the Chinese really care... (none / 0) (#90)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 05:58:27 PM EST
    ... about moral leverage. It's really just a question of whether the US is willing to expend economic or military capital to bargain for changes in human rights behavior. I think most people realized already that we weren't going to do that, even if it would work. But it's probably better not to come right out and say so.

    Maybe she had a larger goal in mind. (none / 0) (#99)
    by Jake Left on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 10:57:44 AM EST
    I don't usually like posts that say something like my subject line, as if the poster had some deep knowledge of the politician's motive or thought process. So I don't profess to know that there are deeper processes at work. But I do think she was speaking the truth. Maybe her real problem was assuming that we were smart enough to not buy the idea that the US has any leverage over our giant lien holder in Asia. Maybe she just thought we should know what she and all the other shuttling diplomats of the world know - that we won't ever change China by force. First because we don't have any of the force left.  Second because, just as she said, this is a dance they have already done a hundred times. Chest thumping speeches about human rights that have no effect might be okay during an election, but as SOS she has to try to really change things. That includes working on the changes that are possible and not pissing off the Chinese with empty threats just so we can feel good about making the gesture.

    I'm a fervent buyer of American goods when possible. I donate to agencies and organizations that promote civil rights. And I am all for fixing what we can in the world - including our own eye-clogging motes - but this was a benign a statement about the sausage making of international negotiations as we will get.