Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

An Inconvenient Empire

realpolitik, human rights, dictators, chess, empire, John McCain, Rex Tillerson, Glenn Greenwald, Trump

“Don’t look to the United States for hope. Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and, when it’s convenient, we might officially express that sympathy. But we make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values. So, if you happen to be in the way of our forging relationships with your oppressors that could serve our security and economic interests . . . You’re on your own.”

That’s Senator John McCain’s New York Times op-ed mockery of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who recently told State Department employees that conditioning our foreign policy “on someone adopting our values . . . creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”

In his op-ed, entitled “Why We Must Support Human Rights,” McCain recounted the hope it gave him to know America would not abandon him as a prisoner of war during Vietnam. But, of course, Tillerson wasn’t suggesting the U.S. abandon POWs.  

McCain highlighted dissidents throughout the world, urging the U.S. to speak out for them, to provide “hope . . . a powerful defense against oppression.”

No fan of President Trump*, the senator is playing up the praise Trump has awkwardly offered despots, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the Chinese leaders behind the Tiananmen Square massacre and recently North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Still, recent successes in freeing Americans and others from the grasp of tyrants in Egypt, Iran and China suggest some degree of caring by Tillerson, Trump and Co.

The inconvenient truth? American foreign policy has long pursued certain political and economic interests at the expense of extolling human rights. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Intercept: “The list of U.S.-supported tyrants is too long to count. . . .”

Hypocrisy alone won’t change that.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* Very early in the presidential campaign, Trump needled the senator and reacted to McCain being called a war hero, by echoing a four-lettered Chris Rock routine: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, okay. I hate to tell you.”

In 1967, McCain was shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam, on his 23rd bombing mission of the war. He broke both arms and one leg and nearly drowned after parachuting into a lake. Denied medical treatment by the North Vietnamese, McCain spent the next five and a half years as a POW, some of it at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, where he was tortured.

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By: CS Admin


  1. Tjohn says:

    Better to serve as an example than to try to redirect other countries. Iran is a classic example.

  2. John F Brennan says:

    The United States can lead by example only, and in fact has lead the world in the area of human rights from its inception, sadly in a deminsihed manner recently as promised security has allowed many a principle to be violated. 
    Foreign policy, defense and trade was and can never be premised on the approval of the partner’s internal politics or cultural base.  We allied with Stalin and every other form of despot and tyrant in our past for both defense and economic interests.
    The progression in human rights is driven by individuals within the cultures from which they came.  The pioneers are abused as are all who reject the status quo. The progression is not uniform, nor can it be forced.  It must develop from within and tends to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.  
    McCain’s policy of intervention has never worked,and generally proven counterproductive. The real progression in Russia and China, and shortly Venezuela, was provided by economics and human nature, not external belligerence, when the disutopian systems failing under their own weight and thereby command reform.  War or police actions would have actually retarded the progress by providing the common enemy to blame the failures and hardships on.  
    Communications and trade are the best weapons to stimulate the progression of human rights. 
    Tilison is being honest and pragmatic, McCain’s interventionist propose policy is that of a dreamer, a potentially destructive dreamer. 

    • Pat says:

      I agree with you about McCain’s interventionist policy being dangerous.   He doesn’t understand that Vietnam is now an ally.   And it’s not 1965 anymore.  I stopped listening to his suggestions on foreign policy after I heard him parodying the Beach Boys’  hit Barbara Ann.
      There he was singing:   bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran!

  3. Karen H says:

    Short & sweet… I think it’s time for John McCain to retire. Been in Senate too long! Term Limits.

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