Obama Coming Up Short on Human Rights

President's actions don't match the promises that wowed Berliners
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2009 1:19 AM CDT
Then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers a speech at the victory column in Berlin last year.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – President Obama's decision to skip the celebrations of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall highlights the gap between his rhetoric on the campaign trail and the realities of his presidency, writes Bret Stephens. Obama hailed the "dream of freedom" in his big speech in Berlin last year but he has done nothing to advance the dream of freedom for the people of China, Iran, Burma, and Sudan, Stephens grumbles in the Wall Street Journal.

Obama has failed to press China's leaders on human rights, and has adopted a policy of engagement with the vile regimes of Burma and Sudan, even though there's no evidence that will work any better than sanctions, Stephens notes. It takes "a remarkable degree of cynicism—or perhaps cowardice—to treat human rights as something that 'interferes' with America's purposes in the world, rather than as the very thing that ought to define them," Stephens writes. "Yet that is exactly the record of Mr. Obama's time thus far in office."