In a passionate address to the annual General Assembly of the United Nations on Tuesday, President Bush advocated stricter sanctions on Myanmar (formerly Burma) and denounced the “brutal regimes” of Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their human rights abuses. Mr. Bush called for a moratorium on visas of those “responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights”, as well as economic sanctions. As a result, the United States Treasury will assemble an inventory of those who will feel the repercussions of the economic sanctions and the State Department will compile a list of people barred from entry into the U.S. In addition, Mr. Bush specifically criticized Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe for human rights abuses in violation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He repeatedly referred to the Declaration, stressing the first article, which declares the universal equality of all humans.
Mr. Bush criticized the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, formerly the Commission on Human Rights, for hypocrisy and for targeting the nation of Israel for condemnation. Finally, Mr. Bush challenged the “free world” to do more to stop the genocide in Darfur, insisting that 7,000 peacekeeping troops would not suffice.
In his fervent speech, President Bush stated, “every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under dictatorship.” Are we bound by such a responsibility? Should the United States be an international “watchdog”? Do we have the right to intervene in other countries and “spread” democracy? Or, is it a greater evil to stand by and allow human rights abuses to continue rather than intervening?