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July 02, 2007

"Setting the Table" on Human Rights, with Dishes We Won't Care For
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Sarah Mendelson's testimony, in front of the Helsinki Commission six weeks back, is a great summary of why "soft power" matters:

If U.S. soft power continues to decline, or if there is no change in the current configuration over the next decade, Russia (together with China) can essentially "set the table" on human rights issues in ways that favors hyper-sovereign interpretations of international legal frameworks and noncompliance by states concerning human rights. This trend bodes very badly not only for the international human rights machinery, in place in no small part to past U.S. leadership, but for peace and security in the international system.

The whole testimony is worth a read for the way it intelligently and germanely draws the links between (for example) Americans' behavior at Guantanamo and the future of conflicts such as Chechnya -- as well as for a rather sobering, though nuanced, view of the situation inside Russia.


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