Don­ald Trump’s hu­man rights agenda

He’s forg­ing an op­por­tu­nity for real hope and en­dur­ing change

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Tina Ramirez Tina Ramirez is prres­i­dent of Hard­wired Global, a for­mer con­gres­sional aid, and a con­tribut­ing au­thor and ed­i­tor of “Hu­man Rights in the United States: A Dic­tio­nary and Doc­u­ments” (2010 and 2017).

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is known for his blunt ap­proach. And on hu­man rights, we are well past due for some hard truths. From Tai­wan to Cuba, Mr. Trump has made cer­tain that the sta­tus quo must change — and this starts with a strong sec­re­tary of State.

The out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of Barack Obama has been marked by am­bigu­ous rhetoric about the state of the world and grov­el­ing to op­pres­sors and bul­lies. His legacy on hu­man rights and coun­tert­er­ror­ism are de­plorable.

Un­der Mr. Obama: global ter­ror­ist groups are up 58 per­cent, there is an on­go­ing geno­cide of Chris­tians and Yazidis in Iraq, Iran is em­bold­ened, the global refugee sit­u­a­tion is a black mark on West­ern val­ues and the Mid­dle East is un­rav­el­ing.

It’s high time for a change and Don­ald Trump has an op­por­tu­nity to re­store Amer­ica’s lead­er­ship as a global ad­vo­cate for in­di­vid­ual hu­man dig­nity. He made clear his ad­min­is­tra­tion will have zero tol­er­ance for the po­lite fic­tions that le­git­imize op­pres­sors and un­der­mine Amer­i­can se­cu­rity.

Fol­low­ing the bru­tal at­tack on Berlin’s Christ­mas Mar­kets, Mr. Trump should make U.S. pol­icy on hu­man rights one of speak­ing hard truths, in­clud­ing about the global threat of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.

Those who killed Amer­i­cans in Bos­ton, San Bernardino, and Or­lando and are spread­ing ter­ror through­out the Mid­dle East and Europe are what they are: rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists who kill in the name of religion. Pe­riod.

The reli­gious di­men­sion of these global crises can­not be ig­nored, glossed over, or down­played.

Mr. Obama tried that and it only made them worse.

Mid­dle East­ern gov­ern­ments have known for years that their pop­u­la­tions are be­ing rad­i­cal­ized. These gov­ern­ments have tried to mon­i­tor mosques, con­trol ser­mons, and re­strict speech — all in the hope that they could de­ter young peo­ple from join­ing ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

In­stead of pro­tect­ing their coun­tries from ter­ror­ism and the chaos that it brings, they have ex­ac­er­bated the prob­lem be­cause they have not changed the way peo­ple think about oth­ers.

Less free­dom isn’t the so­lu­tion to op­pres­sion; only broader in­di­vid­ual hu­man rights and reli­gious free­dom will cure the can­cer of ter­ror­ism in the name of religion.

Rex Tiller­son, Mr. Trump’s nom­i­nee for sec­re­tary of State, must help gov­ern­ments in the Mid­dle East ad­dress the be­liefs that in­spire ex­trem­ism and other en­demic prob­lems that con­trib­ute to the on­go­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion of their pop­u­la­tions.

As an oil ex­ec­u­tive with deep re­la­tional equity in this trou­bled re­gion, Mr. Tiller­son is well poised to in­flu­ence change. He un­der­stands that coun­tries desta­bi­lized by reli­gious con­flict are a risky in­vest­ment. They con­trib­ute to global in­se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Mr. Tiller­son must con­vince lead­ers in the re­gion to change the lens in which they view the world, through ed­u­ca­tion and poli­cies that de­fend the equal rights of peo­ple of all faiths in or­der to cre­ate com­mu­ni­ties that are re­silient to ex­trem­ism and vi­o­lence. To this end, laws and poli­cies that dis­crim­i­nate and marginal­ize de­mand amend­ing. Ed­u­ca­tion must sup­port crit­i­cal think­ing and elim­i­nate in­tol­er­ant views that pro­mote vi­o­lence against mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties and dis­senters.

To­day’s Iraq is a case in point. If Amer­ica had pri­or­i­tized these so­lu­tions in Iraq un­der the past two ad­min­is­tra­tions, the sit­u­a­tion there to­day would look very dif­fer­ent.

In­stead, the U.S. gov­ern­ment spent tril­lions prop­ping up a regime that fo­ments in­tol­er­ance and sec­tar­ian di­vi­sions. And the U.S. con­tin­ues to send bil­lions of dol­lars in military aid with­out any con­di­tions — or a plan for vic­tory.

As ISIS was forc­ing Chris­tians to “con­vert or die,” Iraq’s Par­lia­ment was pass­ing a na­tional iden­tity card law that would force chil­dren to con­vert to Is­lam and deny ci­ti­zens the free­dom to iden­tify ac­cord­ing to the religion of their choice. Pres­i­dent Obama and his of­fi­cials balked at the idea of rec­og­niz­ing the sit­u­a­tion there as geno­cide or ad­dress­ing the root cause of the prob­lem — reli­gious in­tol­er­ance.

By ig­nor­ing reli­gious free­dom, Iraq will con­tinue to per­pet­u­ate the same in­tol­er­ance ISIS stands for and de­scend into fur­ther chaos, with or with­out ISIS.

The key to real sta­bil­ity in Iraq and other coun­tries fac­ing the global threat of ter­ror­ism is to stand up for universal rights — this makes us, and the world, more se­cure and achieves greater pros­per­ity for ev­ery­one.

Main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo by cod­dling op­pres­sive regimes can­not con­tinue. Part of “Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again” means mak­ing Amer­ica true to its val­ues again. It re­quires that we con­front dif­fi­cult is­sues head on, with “truth, lib­erty and jus­tice for all.”

Amer­ica’s val­ues, rhetoric, pol­icy and ac­tions must align. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s State Depart­ment, lead­ing with res­o­lute truths and de­ci­sive ac­tions can in­au­gu­rate a pe­riod of last­ing free­dom, se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity across the globe yet to be ex­pe­ri­enced in the world. The lives of mil­lions de­pend on him be­ing a man of his (blunt) words.

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