Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Human rights are not negotiable.

Below is a video of the President's statement today on the situation in Libya.  Note that he never talks about US economic or military interests in the region, or whether we favor Sunnis or Shiites, or what policy directions the governments in North Africa and the Middle East should take.  Instead, the President simply makes a strong statement in favor of basic human rights of free speech and assembly, and legitimate democratic movements. This is the time to be clear and unambiguous that we stand for the people, and for peace, and against violence, tyranny and oppression.

The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

Here is another excerpt:
The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

(full transcript here)


  1. I agree! Civil rights are human rights! Viva Democracy!

  2. More empty rhetoric. Mumblings about the "international community" then nothing. Hmmm.

  3. Nothing except taking immediate steps to seize Qaddafi's assets, kick Libya out of the UN, coordinate with European leaders to impose other sanctions, and probably a few other things that you and I don't even know about. What else would you suggest, Harrison?

  4. Wouldn't be nice if the rebellion in the ME resulted in increased democracy!?

    If and when the events in the blog below occur, it would be nice if the Prez and others were prepared.

  5. Peter Osborne sounds like he can't wait for the day when the American empire collapses like the British empire did. He thinks we shouldn't have tried to borrow our way out of the recession. The alternative however, would have been a worldwide Great Depression. And he thinks that Hamas is the kind of legitimate government that can end violence. Give me a break.

  6. I don't agree with Osborne any of those issues you named. But that is not a reason to avoid discussing those issues with a straight face. I do agree with him the that issues in the middle east could unfold as he suggests and that it is worth considering.

  7. I also have to disagree with Osborne's idea that the US has an empire in the Arabian countries in the same way that the British once had an empire. Sure we want to remain on good terms with those countries, and we want to have naval bases in some of them. But it's not like any of the Arab countries sell us oil at a discount. (It's not like Alaska or Texas sell us oil at a discount either!) And whether other countries are friendly or unfriendly, for the most part they will still be willing to sell us oil. One of our biggest oil suppliers is Venezuela, not exactly a friendly regime, certainly not a colony.

    The British empire by contrast was composed of real colonies with highly one-sided trade arrangements, and allowed British citizens to run plantations and such in those countries and rake in enormous profits. Our business dealings in Arab countries are arms length business transactions, whether the government is friendly or unfriendly. And it would actually be good for the US if these countries reformed their governments and improved their economies. That would only open up opportunities for more trade.

  8. I would have suggested a "no fly" zone as soon as civillians were getting shot at. This suggestion was made, actually, but it was by Sarah Palin a week ago.

    You don't find it odd that Obama used Mubarak's name dozens of times in his announcements but didn't say "Qaddafi" until very recently.

  9. Here's what I want to know. Why can't we even get straight whether Qaddafi's name starts with a Q or a K or a G? I could understand if you thought the president should provide more clarity on that.

    As for no fly zones, I was not aware that protesters were being shot down from airplanes.