At CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) this morning John Bolton gave a tour de force survey of the world’s hot spots and the Obama administration’s initial moves. Bolton reminded us that Clinton suggested that human rights would have been on the table in her discussions with China, but that she “already knew what they were going to say.” Therefore, she had concluded, there was nothing to be gained by raising a topic which would only “interfere” with potential progress on other topics. Bolton made the key point: what happened to the affection for engagement and discussion? Isn’t that the entire point of Obama’s critique of the Bush administration — that they were insufficiently appreciative of the value of diplomacy and talk?
As Bolton suggests, the notion that we only talk about things that concern the world’s despotic regimes but not the hard issues on our agenda is dangerous and misguided. Bolton conceded that “reasonable minds can differ” on how high a priority to place on human rights, but the refusal to even raise the issue not only eliminates the potential for progress but undermines our bargaining position on other issues.
Click here to read Bolton’s “The Coming War on Sovereignty,” from the March issue of COMMENTARY.