Bush Urged to Champion Human Rights: Conservatives Call on President to Promote Democracy, Freedom in Foreign Policy 11:01, 26/01/2001, By Steven Mufson, Washington Post Staff Writer
Two dozen leading conservatives yesterday sent a letter calling on President Bush to make human rights, religious freedom and democracy priorities for American foreign policy and urging him not to adopt a narrow view of U.S. national interests.
The letter reflects concern among some Republicans that Bush administration officials are steeped in defense issues but have scant track records in human rights. Moreover, during the campaign Bush accused the Clinton administration of engaging in unwarranted humanitarian interventions. Rather than lean toward realpolitik, the group urged Bush to pursue policy based on "idealism without illusions."
"American leadership must never remain indifferent to tyranny, must never be agnostic about the virtues of political and economic freedom, must always be concerned with the fortunes of fragile democracies," the letter said.
The group singled out a few places the administration should apply this approach, saying it should act to stop sex trafficking of women and children, "genocide" in the Sudan and "mass religious persecution" in China against Uighur Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong adherents.
The signatories included former Reagan State Department official Elliott Abrams; former education secretary William J. Bennett; prison minister and former Nixon counsel Chuck Colson; Council of Foreign Relations official Paula J. Dobriansky; commentators Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter and Ben J. Wattenberg; former arms controller Max M. Kampelman; Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Mark P. Lagon; Bishop Kevin W. Mannoia, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Harvard professor Michael Novak; Bush adviser and "compassionate conservative" guru Marvin Olasky; and former CIA director R. James Woolsey.
"The main message is that it`s not possible to have an old-fashioned view of our national interests any longer. It`s not just about stability and weapons systems," said Mark Palmer, U.S. ambassador to Hungary under Presidents Reagan and Bush.
Palmer, who signed the letter, said it was also sent to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney.
The letter did not contradict the Bush campaign position on U.S. military involvement. "America need not fall in the trap of promiscuous resort to military action," the group said, "whether to advance humanitarian goals or for such purposes as `nation building.` "
But it recommended support for groups promoting democracy and said U.S. nonhumanitarian aid, including assistance given through international lending institutions, should be used to "promote freedom and stop tyranny." When given to governments, the aid should be tied to countries` performance on human rights, the group said.