Review of A Perilous Path: The Misguided Foreign Policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton & John Kerry – by Anne R. Pierce

Weak: Obama’s Human Rights Record

A Review by Aaron Rhodes

Obama Vietnam

Washington D.C./Chicago, 15.08.2016 (HuffPost) – It is widely understood, particularly among peoples who have suffered the consequences, that the Obama administration’s foreign policy has downplayed human rights and freedoms; has stressed “stability” over these principles, attempting to assuage dictatorships and murderous ideologies; and has met severe challenges with passivity and equivocation. Anne Pierce is a University of Chicago educated political scientist, a successful author and a professional analyst of American foreign policy. Her writings are informed by an understanding that politics is not a science but a moral quest; that “value neutral” academic analyses fail to penetrate the reality of international politics, and abrogate their responsibility to make moral distinctions.

Her new book, A Perilous Path: The Misguided Foreign Policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, is a closely documented history of the Obama administration’s wide-ranging foreign policy failures that also shows the sources of these failures in the moral blindness of Obama’s post-modern cultural relativism and globalism. President Obama and his team have consistently downplayed individual rights in favor of a collectivistic orientation, paying attention mainly to group interests. Human rights have been interpreted broadly, not as individual freedoms as in the United States Constitution.

Obama has demonstrated a “lack of passion for freedom.” Like many leftist academics, he has embraced the falsehood that the United States under previous administrations sought to “impose human rights” as something uniquely American. He has “reversed the transnational movement toward more freedom, even denouncing its objective.” Seeking to end conflict, he has been willing, even eager to compromise with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. His unilateral concessions have been interpreted – correctly—as weakness. He has squandered the potential of American power to do good by immersing and constraining it within ineffective multilateral efforts. America under Obama has punished its friends and rewarded its enemies. Strategic alliances have been neglected in favor of reliance on the “international community.”

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Persecution of Religious Minorities in the Middle East urges EU to act

Figel’: “Action for Religious Freedom is a Moral Obligation”

Interview by FOREF Europe with Dr. Ján Figeľ, EU Special Envoy for the promotion of FoRB

  JF1

 

Vienna, 03.08.2016 (FOREF Europe) – During his short stay in Vienna, Ján Figeľ, the first Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, met with Peter Zoehrer, the executive director of FOREF Europe. Mr. Figeľ previously served as Slovakia’s deputy Prime Minister and EU Commissioner. After having been nominated on 6 May 2016 by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, he will focus on some of the most crucial challenges facing Europe today: the quest for religious freedom, radicalization and intercultural dialogue.   

FOREF Europe: Dr. Ján Figeľ, congratulations to your nomination as the Special Envoy for the promotion of FoRB. Thank you for giving the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe the opportunity to interview you. First of all, we would be interested to know what freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) means to you. 

Ján Figeľ: Before we can clarify the issue of religious freedom, allow me to explain my understanding of the notion of freedom in general. Freedom is always rooted in both moral values and human rights. A free society can only be achieved and sustained on the basis of shared moral values. Already the English philosopher John Locke saw the difference between liberty and license. While liberty is the freedom to do what we ought to do, license is the freedom to do what we want to do. On a similar note Benjamin Franklin stated that “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Already long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, George Washington realized that “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” In other words, there can be no freedom and no human rights without certain moral obligations and sincere commitments.

Now extending this understanding of freedom to the particular theme of religious freedom as a fundamental human right, I believe that to defend the freedom of conscience, thought and belief is our moral obligation. This moral commitment to freedom is the starting point for both reasonable policies and effective action in field of religious freedom. In a nutshell, this is my personal approach to FoRB.

Would you like to share any personal experiences you had in the matter of religious freedom?

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Attempts to inhibit any kind of “discrimination” lead to discrimination against the free practice of Judaism and other faiths

The Fear of Religious Liberty

Essay by Richard Samuelson


Washington D. C., 03.08.2016 (Mosaic Magazine) – Not so long ago, doubts about the ability of Jews to live and practice Judaism freely in the United States would have been dismissed as positively paranoid: relics of a bygone era when American Jews could be turned away from restaurants and country clubs, when restrictive covenants might prevent their purchase of real estate or prejudicial quotas limit their access to universities and corporate offices.

None of that has been the case for a half-century or more. And yet recent developments in American political culture have raised legitimate concerns on a variety of fronts. To put the matter in its starkest form: the return of anti-Semitism, by now a thoroughly documented phenomenon in Europe and elsewhere around the world, is making itself felt, in historically unfamiliar ways, in the land of the free.

Statistics tell part of the tale. In 2014, the latest period for which figures have been released by the FBI, Jews were the objects of fully 57 percent of hate crimes against American religious groups, far outstripping the figure for American Muslims (14 percent) and Catholics (6 percent). True, the total number of such incidents is still blessedly low; but what gives serious pause is the radical disproportion.

The rise and spread of anti-Israel agitation, particularly on the nation’s campuses, is the most common case. Such agitation, expressed in the form of defamatory graffiti, “Israel Apartheid” demonstrations, and the verbal or physical abuse of pro-Israel students, feeds into and is increasingly indistinguishable from outright anti-Semitism. Even the most zealously “progressive” young Jews are targeted as accomplices-by-definition with the alleged crimes of Zionism. As one student who has fallen afoul of his campus’s orthodoxies has lamented, “because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. . . . [A]mong my peers, Jews are oppressors and murderers.” Such is the progressive doctrine of “intersectionality,” according to which all approved causes are interconnected and must be mutually supported, no exceptions and no tradeoffs allowed.

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Richard Samuelson is associate professor of history at California State University, San Bernardino and a fellow of the Claremont Institute.

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Human Rights being turned into instrument for “big” governments, protection of individual freedom neglected

The UN’s Politicized Human Rights Vision

A FOREF-Commentary by Aaron Rhodes

Ban-Ki-Moon
New York / Vienna, 03.08.2016 (American Thinker / FOREF) – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon does not appear to understand human rights as they were formulated in Classical and Enlightenment philosophy, adhering instead to a political notion of human rights, one originating in Socialism and Progressivism. For Ban and the UN, human rights have been reduced to means to achieving broad, generally leftist, global governance goals.

The ancient Stoic philosophers insisted that the laws of governments and legislatures must be constrained by principles consistent with the laws of nature. Eternal moral laws compelling states to respect human nature and freedom are different from laws promulgated to ensure justice, security, and the public welfare, that is, laws reflecting what societies believe is good. The philosophy of John Locke and Emmanuel Kant gave shape to the formation of constitutional and international human rights protections aimed at protecting individuals from tyrannical decrees and laws. Classical human rights, based on natural law, are politically neutral, meant to keep governments from infringing on the demands of our common human nature.

In a 12 July speech before a “High-Level Thematic Debate” in the UN General Assembly, the Secretary General imparted a vision of human rights as inseparable from a political program of global regulation and wealth redistribution.

Ban Ki-moon repeatedly confused human rights with positive legislation to achieve the political goals of societies and the international community, and he even spoke of human rights as subordinate to those goals, as means to other ends.

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Freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Expression under Attack. Religious Liberty expected to be severely restricted.

Russia: Counterterror Law tightened, Basic Freedoms threatened

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Moscow/Russia, 24.06.2016 (NYT) – Russian lawmakers adopted on Friday a set of measures that proponents said were aimed at combating terrorism, but that human rights activists condemned as an assault on freedoms of speech, privacy and conscience.

The measures, passed on Friday by the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, introduced a prison sentence of up to one year for failure to report a terrorist act or armed mutiny in the planning stages. The lawmakers also forced cellular and internet providers to store all communications data for six months and to help security services decipher all messaging applications.

The bill, which must be approved by the upper chamber and signed by President Vladimir V. Putin, also banned proselytizing, preaching and praying outside officially recognized religious institutions, among other measures.

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Relevant reports by the European Intergroup on FoRB & RT, HRWF Int’l and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe

 

Annual Reports on Freedom of Religion or Belief

break-free

Vienna, 14.07.2016 (FOREF) – The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe presents three recently published annual reports by the European Intergroup on FoRB & RT, Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe. In addition, FOREF recommends an article published by UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB, Heiner Bielefeldt, titled “Misperceptions of Freedom of Religion or Belief”.

(1) Annual Report 2015-16 by the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance (FoRB&RT)
The Intergroup on FoRB&RT was first introduced in January 2015 in order to ensure that the EU promotes and protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief in non-EU countries. As a secular body the Intergroup on FoRB&RT is not associated with any particular religious society and operates impartially.

(2) The HRWF Int’l Freedom of Religion or Belief World Report 2015 – Religious Minorities under Oppression
Human Rights Without Frontiers International (HRWF Int’l) is a Brussel-based non-profit association that aims to inform European and international policies in order to uphold democracy, the rule of law and human rights globally. Among the range of activities of the HRWF Int’l are field missions, research, analysis and monitoring of various human rights concerns in many countries around the world. A wide global network of correspondents and associated member organizations provides the NGO with reliable first-hand information.

(3) Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe – 2015 Report
The Austria-based “Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe” investigates, documents and reports cases of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe. The NGO informs international government institutions and reports to politicians, NGOs and the media. The Observatory is a member of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the EU.

(4) Misperceptions of Freedom of Religion or Belief
This older, but nonetheless relevant article by Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, illuminates typical concepts and political ideas that blur the status of freedom of religion as fundamental human right. Those concepts include blasphemy and apostasy legislation, state imposed interreligious harmony, or ideological versions of state secularism. Bielefeldt also discusses the relation between the freedom of religion and other human rights.

 

 

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Recurrent abuse of blasphemy laws, forged charges against school director

Pakistan: Christian seeks police help, instead receives death sentence for ‘blasphemy’

The Science Locus School of Science & Arts in Gujranwala, Pakistan.

The Science Locus School of Science & Arts in Gujranwala, Pakistan.

Gujranwala/Pakistan, 2016-07-01 (WWM) – An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian man to death for committing blasphemy against the prophet of Islam. Anjum Sandhu, 60, had initially sought police protection in May 2015, after alleging he was the victim of blackmail and extortion, but he was instead charged with blasphemy by the police, after the men he had accused levelled charges against him.

On 27 June, 2016, Sandhu was sentenced to death and fined 500,000 Pakistani rupees ($4775). Javed Naz and Jafar Ali, the two he had accused of blackmailing him, have also been sentenced to death, but must first serve 35 years in jail. They were each fined 80,000 rupees ($764).

Sandhu, who has an Honours degree in Chemistry and a Masters in English Literature, is one of the three directors of eight branches of the Science Locus School in Gujranwala. In May 2015, Sandhu went to the police to report that Naz and Ali had extorted 20,000 rupees ($191) from him and were demanding a further 50,000 rupees ($477).

“Naz had previously worked at the school, but was dismissed for leaking examination papers, according to one of Sandhu’s relatives,” human rights activist Napoleon Qayyum told World Watch Monitor. The police report, dated 15 May, 2015, states that after Sandhu identified the two, they were arrested and the police found that they had at least 20,000 rupees between them, which the police took from them. But the two men then told the police that Sandhu, during a discussion at his school, had “used blasphemous words” and that they had a recording of him doing so.

However, a close relative of Sandhu’s, who did not wish to be identified, told Qayyum that in 20 years of running schools, Sandhu had never shown any “inclination towards discussing religion”. The relative added that, “since the passing of this judgment, we have locked our houses and moved to an undisclosed location for fear of our lives”.

In Pakistan, dozens of people have been killed over a suspicion they committed blasphemy. Several Christian settlements have also been attacked, looted and set on fire on the pretext of blasphemy.

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