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CORRESPONDENCE Victoria Hadfield andJeremy Preiss, editors Human Rights Revisited To the Editor: Mr. Eldridge's response to my article, "Another Look at Human Rights,"* misses the point a little when he says he "despairfs ] of the Carter idealism." The ideals and principles are fine. I despair of the rhetoric, and of the ability to translate the rhetoric into action. After six years' experience with human rights, we should be able to go beyond exhortations like "the United States needs to be able to clearly articulate before a global audience the human rights values which are embedded deep within the spiritual fabric of this society." It surely does. Now, how can be articulate those values? We will articulate them better by deeds than by words. We speak clearly to the world about our purposes and our values when we press South Korea to spare Kim Dae Jung, when we induce Indonesia to release 30,000 political prisoners, and when we work with Venezuela and Costa Rica to retrieve a stolen election in the Dominican Republic. These deeds speak just as clearly and loudly to Americans, and they inspire the consensus and enthusiasm necessary to foreign policy in an open, democratic system. Americans are moved by the sight of things accomplished, but they were not much impressed by Carter's rhetoric and gestures. In six years we have seen what worked, what failed, and what defeated our purposes . The three guidelines I proposed steer policy toward what worked. They do not reduce human rights policy to casework , because the semiannual review by Congress, the annual Country Reports, and the U.N., Helsinki, and OAS work would continue. But they do lay out a decisive, effective, targets-of-opportunity approach for the State Department's Human Rights Bureau. This approach adds a dimension to human rights policy and does not replace or somehow cancel out procedures mandated by Congress or by treaties. Mr. Eldridge is wrong in stating that the guidelines make immediate success the only criterion. In South Korea and Indonesia success came after months or years of patience. Nowhere have I counseled against patience and consistency. Indeed, the guidelines I proposed would promote consistency and inspire the patient effort that comes with reasonable prospects for success. Mr. Eldridge cites the problem of inconsistent and unevenly applied policy during the Carter years. I suggest that clear standards, which inform us when and * Stephen D. Wrage's article appeared in the winter-spring issue (vol. 3, no. 1) of the sais review. Joseph T. Eldridge, director of the Washington Office on Latin America, responded to Mr. Wrage's article in the correspondence section of the subsequent issue of the review. Unfortunately, we were unable to include Mr. Wrage's reply at that time; it is, thus, appearing in this issue.—editors' note 205 206 SAIS REVIEW how to apply pressure, would limit inconsistency . The same standards would put an end to quixotic enterprises and preserve us from posturing. Our policies in the past have failed or defeated our purposes because we did not know what we were after. Mr. Eldridge is typical of most writers on human rights in failing to say what it is we should be trying to accomplish. He claims we got results in Latin America; to wit: "In addition to saving many lives, the United States began to recover a measure of goodwill among the Latin American peoples." But if saving lives is our goal, let us identify specific groups of endangered persons and orchestrate a campaign of pressures on their behalf. It is not sufficient to make it our goal to win goodwill. Goodwill may be a dividend of good human rights work, but I doubt that the goodwill to which Mr. Eldridge refers survived our support of Britain in the Falklands war. Goodwill is evanescent . Nor should we expect to enjoy the goodwill of smaller nations subject to our hegemony. Historically, we certainly have not, nor will we ever have it so long as we have a hand in their affairs. It cannot be our objective simply to "irritate and jar a number of Latin American militaries." We should not imagine, moreover , that this friction will somehow...


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