On January 18, President Obama greeted Chinese President Hu Jintao, who had come to America for a summit meeting, and said: "History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all peoples are upheld including the universal rights of every human being," Someone should tell him that he should practice what he preaches.
For this U.S. president to be lecturing the leader of any other nation on human rights, based on his continued escalation of these egregious wars, is very difficult to comprehend, so we need to examine this moral issue to a greater degree. A common definition of human rights is, "The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law."
President Obama wasted no time in bringing up the issue of human rights in China, in particular, the 2011 Nobel peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who was charged with suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power" and was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison. There is no question that China's record on human rights has been very troubling; you may recall the tragic Tienanmen Square protests of 1989. But Mr. Obama might be careful with accusations based on the old saying, "before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean."
In America we have our own questions involving human rights. Pfc. Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier, was charged in July 2010 with a violation of "unauthorized disclosure of classified military information." He has now entered his sixth month of solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, awaiting a court martial in spring, 2011. He is accused of downloading data from the military's SIPRNet ( Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) and passing it to WikiLeaks, that international organization that has embarrassed the U.S. government by publishing classified information.
PFC. Manning is considered a traitor by many in our government and the media; he is considered a hero by many other patriotic Americans who applaud his bravery in exposing the case where a U.S. helicopter in Iraq trained its sights on innocent civilians and Reuters reporters and killed them. For his actions, it's been reported that Manning is in solitary confinement, with extremely severe restrictive measures on his personal contacts, exercise and sleep; far more so than other prisoners.
Was what he did a violation of classified information or was he doing his duty as a U.S. soldier? General Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been quoted as saying, "It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral' and to make such orders known."
We need to expand our thinking on this issue and ask some pertinent questions about human rights and America's associated actions:
*When the Iraqi city of Fallujah was largely destroyed by U.S. and British forces in 2004, and white phosphorus chemicals were alleged to have been used, was that not a violation of human rights?
*When hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were thrown out of their homes and forced to flee to neighboring countries, was that not a violation of human rights?
*When civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan are terrorized and killed by Hellfire missiles rained down from U.S. drones, is that or is that not a violation of their rights as human beings?
*When thousands of homes have been blown up because of "suspected" explosives inside, and large portions of the Afghan countryside leveled, is that not yet another violation of human rights?
Does President Obama want to compare America's record on human rights versus China's, when considering these actions for which he bears direct responsibility?
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