Bipartisan initiative reaffirms democratic values, alliances underpinning foreign policy


The U.S. State Department on Wednesday slammed human rights violations in China, saying the sort of abuses it had inflicted on its Muslim minorities had not been seen “since the 1930s,” Reuters reports:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted abuses in Iran, South Sudan, Nicaragua and China in the department’s annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” but told reporters that China was “in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations.”

“For me, you haven’t seen things like this since the 1930s,” said Michael Kozak, the head of the State Department’s human rights and democracy bureau, referring to abuses of China’s Muslim minority.

“Rounding up, in some estimations … in the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA. It’s just remarkably awful.”

The report’s release coincided with a bipartisan reaffirmation of values, alliances, diplomacy and development “as pillars of a uniquely American foreign policy,” by Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Michael McCaul, the Committee’s Ranking Member. The three bipartisan resolutions will help guide the Committee’s agenda and priorities for the 116th Congress.

The lawmakers introduced three resolutions designed to “guide the Committee’s agenda and priorities for the 116th Congress,” including H.Res.221, which asserts that “American values—namely support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—should be at the center of American foreign policy and guide U.S. efforts around the world.” A second (H.Res.222) underscores the importance of alliances in advancing security and prosperity. A third measure (H.Res.220), backed by House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Chair Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Hal Rogers, stresses diplomacy and development efforts as essential foreign policy tools.

“The United States is strongest on the global stage when we conduct a foreign policy rooted in core American values—support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—and when we use the tools of diplomacy and development in conjunction with like-minded friends and allies,” said Chairman Engel.

“With strong American leadership and a shared understanding of democratic principles at the foundation of U.S. foreign policy we can make the 21st century a time of peace and prosperity. The spread of liberty around the world is what tyrants and terrorists fear the most,” said Ranking Member McCaul.

The DRL report labeled Jamal Khashoggi’s murder a human rights violation committed by Saudi Arabian government agents, but makes no mention of the likely role that crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, played in the Washington Post columnist’s death, USA Today adds.

The Iranian government had killed more than 20 people and arrested thousands without due process for protesting for their rights, it adds, “continuing a pattern of cruelty the regime has inflicted on the Iranian people for the last four decades”.

Democracy assistance from groups like the National Endowment for Democracy is very much appreciated by its recipients, officials suggest.

USAID Administrator Mark Green told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere last month how thankful the Guaidó team inside Venezuela was for the democracy support, McClatchy adds.

“That should be particularly gratifying to all of you because of the democracy assistance programs for Venezuela that you’ve invested in over these last five years on a bipartisan basis,” Green said. “This assistance has supported local organizations working on human rights, civil society, independent media, electoral oversight, and the democratically-elected national assembly.”

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