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Three approaches to human rights in US foreign policy serve as benchmarks for a general understanding of the subject from a historical perspective. The first is Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, or classical liberalism, featuring a consistent commitment to the international law of human rights and humanitarian affairs. The second is Providential nationalism, or belief in a Divinely blessed Manifest Destiny. The third is structural realism as represented in modern times by Henry Kissinger. This article examines a fourth approach that will be termed muddling through, or inconsistency regarding human rights in foreign policy, practiced by not only the Obama administration from the start, but at the end of the day by all administrations. There remain particular differences among administrations, and while the Obama record has shown a certain continuity with Bush's foreign policy, some differences are evident.