Trump Abandons the Human-Rights Agenda

By Michael Posner

Michael Posner

Rather than abandoning a human-rights policy that has so clearly advanced our national interests over the past forty years, this is the time to double down.

In his first four months in office, President Donald Trump has shaken America’s democratic foundations at home and abandoned a powerful bipartisan commitment to human rights. Seemingly forgotten is the legacy of Ronald Reagan, who, in his first Inaugural Address, pledged that America would “be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope” for oppressed populations around the world.

Trump seems indifferent to, and at times disdainful of, this deeply rooted global commitment. He begs off mentioning human rights publicly, as he did on Sunday, in Riyadh, where he spoke to Arab and Muslim leaders from around the world. “We are not here to lecture,” he said. “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.”

But Trump has developed a habit of embracing those whose values are antithetical to our own. He repeatedly expresses admiration for the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. “I do respect him,” Trump told Bill O’Reilly, in February. “But he’s a killer,” O’Reilly said. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Read the full article as published by The New Yorker.

Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Co-Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.