Obituary: U.S. & International Human Rights Regime 1947-2010

Ahmadinejad’s triangulation with Brazil and Turkey although originating with the American administration reveals two significant points of interest that ought to have Washington reeling.  But don’t worry, those at foggy bottom are secure even if the entire infrastructure built since Truman and culminating at Helsinki is dead.  First, new emerging powers (India, China, Brazil, Turkey) will offer alternative cultural, religious or ideological standards that are more attractive than Western human rights to subsets of nations.  Such emerging powers, although acting like spoilers today will offer trade and security arrangements that will dwarf the likes of the Atlantic alliance or NATO.  Second, the ideology of human rights has relied on Democracy (specifically the weight of the United States) and peoples who are enfranchised to the ideals of the Enlightenment.  The dirty little secret of the human rights movement is this:  without the United States leading or the tenants of Western Christianity (rule of law, equality) inculturated, the international Human Rights regime will be blunted by multiple center emerging spheres of interest contrary to Christian humanism.  This is relativism writ large on a global scale with consequences!

If left leaning professors who dominate much of  the Beltway refuse anything, its to acknowledge that after the Cold War parts of the world prefer regimes whose governance is primarily informed from tribal, ethnic and religious ideals predating the Enlightenment.  The left simply cannot acknowledge the debt owed to the relation between Christianity, Democracy and an enforced regime of human rights as was demonstrated under Reagan.

Conformity with rules embedded within human rights treaties will not suffice.  The most important political-theological development of the 20th century were the determined efforts of liberal democracies to oppose powerful, dangerous, expansionist States or ideologies that rejected the fruits of Christian Humanism (rule of law, equality, open markets, technological developments etc. )  Such efforts required pragmatic accommodation of unsavory allies, and even compromising of Western values, for the sake of a greater goal:  the defeat of murderous ideologies that enslave men.


About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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