Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Showing posts for "Democracy and Human Rights"

The Sandinistas Attack the Miskito Indians–Again

by Elliott Abrams

The hostility between the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast was sharp during the 1980s, and many Indians joined the contra effort against that regime. They wanted little more than to be left alone, but the Sandinistas wanted to conscript them into the revolution. To the Marxist Sandinista leaders they were relics of a pre-capitalist age, and had to brought into 20th century Stalinist reality. Read more »

The Pope’s Cuba Test

by Elliott Abrams

The Pope’s visit to Cuba is of course a test of the regime: how much of a crackdown will it undertake to prevent him from seeing a single demonstrator or dissident?

But it is also a test of Pope Francis. He is visiting a vicious and brutal dictatorship that has largely eviscerated the Cuban church–closing its schools, for example, including those attended by Fidel Castro as a child. There have been plenty of news reports in the last week of round-ups of dissidents throughout the island. Today there are more. Jon Watts reported for The Guardian in London as follows: Read more »

The Republican Debate: Where Was the Freedom Agenda?

by Elliott Abrams

Watching the Republican debate last night, I was very glad to see the field (with Rand Paul as the only real exception) acknowledge George W. Bush’s foreign policy achievements– not least keeping America safe, and providing global leadership of the sort so badly missing in the last seven years. In a recent trip to Australia, I was struck by the degree to which that leadership is missed on the Left as well as the Right. There were of course many references last night to the leadership provided by Ronald Reagan. Read more »

UNRWA, the State Department, and the Uses of English

by Elliott Abrams

Just a few days ago I wrote here about “Leopoldo Lopez, John Kerry, and the Uses of English.” My point was that the State Department’s tepid reaction to the outrageous and farcical “trial” of the Venezuelan political leader (and thirteen year sentence) was embarrassing. As usual the State Department, in this case the Secretary himself, said this was “troubling,” of “concern,” and other words no normal human being uses–and that were wholly inappropriate for this vile fake “trial.” Read more »

Accountability in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

The continuing crisis in Bahrain is leading to bipartisan Congressional efforts to bring American pressure to bear–and to keep the United States away from involvement in repression there.

Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, a Republican and a Democrat, have introduced S. 2009, which would bar selling or giving to Bahrain materiel that could be used not for national security but for internal repression: “(1) Tear gas, (2) Small arms, (3) Light weapons, (4) Ammunition for small arms and light weapons, (5) Humvees, (6) Other items that could reasonably be used for crowd control purposes.” Read more »

Is President Sisi a Bulwark Against Terrorism?

by Elliott Abrams

There are very few people nowadays ignoring the growing repression in Egypt. Most recently, a new “counter-terrorism” law was imposed this week–but it snuffs out free speech more than terror. Even the State Department denounced the law: “We are concerned that some measures in Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law could have a significant detrimental impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” its spokesman said. The new law punishes as a crime the publication of information that differs with the official version of facts about terrorism, which means you agree with Sisi or you go to jail. Read more »

Realpolitik and Human Trafficking

by Elliott Abrams

The fight against trafficking in persons has been a human rights policy that works. Laws adopted largely because of pressure from religious groups, especially Evangelicals, were resisted by the usual combination of professional diplomats and realpolitik theorists. But the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in 2000 and has been renewed several times since. It established an Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the State Department, and requires annual reports that place countries in several tiers depending on how good or bad the trafficking situation is. Read more »