Secretary of State Antony Blinken is telling American diplomats deployed across the world to admit to their country’s failures when promoting human rights and U.S. democratic values, Politico reported recently.
Politico obtained a cable containing Blinken’s instructions sent to U.S. embassies across the globe Friday.
Biden’s State Department chief pointed out that populist and authoritarian forces threaten democracy as a concept abroad and in the U.S. due to “political polarization, disinformation and misinformation, and low levels of trust in government.”
Blinken, the top diplomat in the U.S., also bashed his country for its “human rights failures,” noting that too many Americans continue to experience various forms of discrimination.
The U.S. State Department sent the cable days after Blinken announced that the Biden team had invited the U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and U.S. Special Rapporteur on minority issues to make an official visit to America.
Although Blinken did not explicitly say the U.N. envoys would be able to investigate rights abuses in the United States, Politico reported that is likely the purpose of their visit.
Politico revealed Friday:
The cable is strikingly frank in acknowledging America’s internal challenges, a risky political move given current conservative anger over educational and other attempts to highlight U.S. failures on sensitive issues such as race.
In promoting human rights and democracy abroad, U.S. diplomats should make “clear that we ask no more of other countries than we ask of ourselves,” Blinken states.
The secretary’s message does not mention any critics. Still, his comments echo criticism from China and Russia, which often highlight America’s struggles with race and other issues to question U.S. credibility as an advocate of human rights and democracy.
It might be “painful, even ugly” to acknowledge America’s flaws, Blinken wrote. However, he asserted that such honesty “helps disarm critics and skeptics who would use our imperfect record at home to undercut our global leadership on these issues.
The secretary also ordered American diplomats to push human rights and democracy as a top priority even in U.S. allied nations with abusive governments.
Blinken admits that the Biden Administration will have to carefully balance its “myriad of national interests” with the fact that some of America’s close international allies are human rights abusers and even dictatorships, Politico pointed out.
“While some instances we will need to adjust the pressure we apply to avoid a rupture in the relationship, there is no relationship or situation where we will stop raising human rights concerns,” he wrote.
Blinken reportedly left the door open to the possibility of the U.S. applying pressure privately in some cases.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was quick to condemn Blinken for being more willing to beat up on America than repressive regimes such as Cuba.
In defending Blinken, unnamed senior State officials reportedly asserted that diplomats would also continue to highlight America’s successes.
“We still have a lot to be proud of [and] we still have a lot of faith in our resilience. We still have confidence in our ability to work through these things,” one official reportedly said.
Blinken’s instructions to diplomats are reminiscent of the Obama-Biden administration’s apologist approach to foreign policy, which embraced the notion that the United States is a flawed nation that must seek forgiveness for the sins of its past.
Former President Barack Obama’s apologist foreign policy marked a departure from the venerable tradition of U.S. diplomats promoting American exceptionalism — U.S. values and ideals — as worthy of emulation when advocating human rights and democratic values abroad.
Blinken has highlighted flaws in America’s human rights record in the past, soon after China voiced similar criticism, a move that some Republicans believe made the United States look weak.
His message to diplomats will likely trigger a backlash from conservatives who condemned the Obama-Biden administration’s apologist foreign policy agenda.