Mohammad Ali Saki

Penn professor says human rights are marginal issues in U.S. policy making 

March 19, 2021 - 16:51

TEHRAN - Ian Lustick, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, says that human rights have a very “marginal” role in U.S. policy making “if at all”.

Unlike former U.S. president Donald Trump who never cared about values such as democracy and human rights, Joe Biden pledged in his presidential campaigns to uphold ethical values rather than impulsive narrow-minded policies.

Professor Lustick says the U.S. exercises double-standards in regard to human rights violations, especially when geopolitics are involved.

“When geopolitics are also involved, for example in regard to human rights violations by China, the U.S. might well take a stronger stand,” Lustick tells the Tehran Times.

A concrete example of this is the United States’ approach toward the Khashoggi killing. 

Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who wrote critically of the Saudi crown prince and his policies, was murdered by a team of Saudi agents in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. His dismembered body has never been recovered.

U.S. intelligence agencies revealed in a newly declassified intelligence report that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of Khashoggi but Washington stopped short of targeting the future Saudi king with financial or other sanctions.

“It is a typical reflection of realpolitik even if Biden’s policy is more in line with upholding norms of decency than was Trump’s,” Lustick notes.

Biden had also pledged to reverse Trump’s policies regarding Washington’s unconditional support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. However, the Yemeni Ansarullah movement says the U.S. proposal for silencing the guns in Yemen favors the Saudi coalition.

Asked if he thinks that U.S. steps are enough to end the war in Yemen, the American academic says, “Yes, but perhaps not immediately.  The Saudis will have to adjust to a new reality.”

However, the Yemeni side is skeptical of Washington’s desire to compel the Saudi kingdom to end six years of war on Yemen which the United Nations says has caused the worst humanitarian disaster in modern history.

When it comes to Iran and the landmark nuclear agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Biden’s administration has adopted a very conservative approach.

Some pundits say that Biden is using Trump’s sanctions leverage along with diplomacy with Iran.

“Trump’s policy weakened Iran’s economy, but it did not achieve stability in the region or deflect Iran from its commitment to develop a nuclear weapons capacity,” Professor Lustick believes.

Many are doubtful of the United States’ intention to democratize tyrannical regimes in West Asia.

“The U.S. has not ‘exported’ democracy to any country in the Middle East that I know of,” the professor from the University of Pennsylvania says.