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Biden and Human Rights

The goals that US presidents have sought over the years do not reflect a pursuit of justice at the international level similar to what they aspired to at home. At the same time, liberal societies have duties to uphold values beyond their borders, and doing so is a part of their national interest.

CAMBRIDGE – During Joe Biden’s long career in the US Senate, he established a record of supporting human rights as a goal of American foreign policy. Now, as president, Biden’s commitment in this area is being put to the test.

Foreign policy involves trade-offs among many issues, including security, economic interests, and other values. But when it comes to human rights, trade-offs often give rise to charges of hypocrisy or cynicism.

Consider the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. Former President Donald Trump was criticized for ignoring clear evidence of a brutal crime in order to maintain good relations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known as MBS.

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