Woodrow Wilson and Human Rights Research Paper

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Woodrow Wilson and Human Rights

The issue of human rights is to this day one of the most important aspects of international law and often seen as the cornerstone of international cooperation and the basis of legal adjustments on a constant basis. However, despite the fact that this issue is on the front pages of most newspapers almost on a daily basis nowadays, the human rights movement traces its roots to the beginning of the 20th century, in Woodrow Wilson's idealism and its promotion of equality among states as a matter of right and an issue of international law. To this day, elements of the Monroe Doctrine are present in the foreign policy approach of the United States, from the Cold War approaches to the Obama reactions to the Arab Spring.

The Monroe Doctrine was not a very effective or pivotal document in the history of the American continents. The United States, at the time, did not possess a strong navy or army. While the Latin American revolutionaries at the time, most notably Simon Bolivar, saw the Monroe Doctrine as considerate but useless.

The document was also vulnerable to many different interpretations. The Roosevelt Corollary assumed that the "chronic wrongdoing...may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation

" By taking this role, the United States officially shifted in its position from a political entity to an international police and superpower. While this was not the first case that the United States attempted to establish political dominance over the American continents, it was the most notable one and would continue to affect United States foreign policy throughout the twentieth century. Many, such as Noam Chomsky, have stated that the Monroe Doctrine, especially aspects such as the Roosevelt Corollary, was created purely to establish the United States as the continental hegemony.

The global campaign of President Wilson in championing the silent dominant group, paved way for the American human rights and democracy foreign policy. This shaped up in the wake of the twentieth century. Wilsonian statutes resounded obviously in the Atlantic Charter message. Although it was proclaimed by Franklin Roosevelt (the intellectual beneficiary of Wilson), it showed U.S.' disappointment with the absence of power for colonized individuals. The concern for the declaration of democracy and human rights is in this manner a segment of this legacy of the foreign policy of the U.S., towards the African continent. The striking nature of these ethical standards in foreign policy practice has been stable despite the realistic foundation of U.S.' strategy. This was evident during the Cold War. The status of such thoughts in the post-Cold War United States foreign policy remains an open question.

Nevertheless, the Monroe Doctrine was one of the first public statements made on the issue of state equality as a matter of right and not as an indulgence. More precisely, at the Pan American Union in December 1913, President Wilson announced that the Monroe Doctrine was unfolding into a new doctrine as the Wilson Doctrine of Pan Americanism. In this sense, the president stated, "We must prove ourselves their friends and champions upon terms of equality and honor. You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality

" (p186). This statement proved that President Wilson at the time had set the grounds for a new foreign policy type, one that was based on the issue of equality among states, an aspect that would later on be at the foundation of the National League, the precedent of the United Nations

. This important factor in the way the U.S. foreign policy shifted from the Monroe Doctrine iterated the interest of the U.S. In the entire hemisphere. From Wilson's point-of-view, the consideration of all states as being equal was the basis of an honorable foreign policy. The United States was morally obliged to follow it. This desire for equality did not manifest itself solely at the level of the foreign policy, but also at the national level as President Wilson was a strong supporter of equality of race and gender

The historical events following the end of the First World War were the most influential and crucial to U.S.' foreign approach and its view on the issue of state and human rights. On the international scene, the creation of the Soviets was a clear proof of human rights, among which of the critical, the right to self-determination that was demanded by most European states, including Greece, Hungary, Poland, or Romania

(p18). At the same time though, the threat of communism was essential for re-drafting the U.S. foreign policy not necessarily by changing the basis of its democratic principles but rather by prioritizing the directions of its foreign policy.

At the Yalta Conference in 1945, the United States had allowed the Soviet Union to continue to occupy the Eastern European nations mentioned in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union if the Soviets would implement free elections. Churchill believed that Stalin would be true to his word, claiming that while "Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong. But I don't think I'm wrong about Stalin (Berthon & Potts 2007)." Although it was evident several years later that elections in the Eastern Bloc were being rigged in order to establish communist governments, the United States, nor did its allies intervene, fearing direct conflict with the Soviet Union. This may have made the United States' to shift their foreign policy towards and anti-communist stance, regardless of Wilson's fourteen points, in order to ward off the expansion of Soviet communism the U.S. supported dictators with a record of human rights abuses as long as they declared themselves anti-communists (Galvan, 2012). Although it may have been a proper path to follow in the beginning, the U.S. created precedents that would reverberate during the Cold War and even after later.

Wilsonianism Shelved: U.S. Policy to Africa and the Cold War

In the 1960s, America promoted decolonization and freedom in Africa using the Wilsonianism spirit. However, when the Cold War was the center stage of global politics, sustaining American investments and interests was seen through the fights against socialism in Africa and other parts of the world. Without a doubt, such concerns were obvious even before Africa's freedom. After visiting the African continent, the then Vice-President Nixon illustrated that the course of development and growth in Africa could well turn out to be the unequivocal component between the forces of global communism and freedom

The concerns with majority rules system and human rights sporadically surfaced in the discussions of the foreign policy adopted by the U.S. For example, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation linking military and economic support to human rights and democracy in the early sixties. Section 116 among the provisions of the 1961 Foreign Aid Act denied the President from providing development support to countries, which participated in a consistent trend of violent infringement of universally recognized human rights. The Congressional Foreign Aid Act endorsed in 1976 requires the U.S. To encourage an environment that respects human rights and democracy spaces all around the globe. U.S. security support must be released in a way that will provide and enhance human rights. However, it must not identify the United States as promoting these programs where such nations were denying their citizens distinguished human rights and basic freedoms.

These long-winded legislative endeavors must not confuse people to a situation where U.S.' foreign policy works against the statutes of Wilsonianism. The role of the U.S. In Africa during the Cold War shows recurring actions against Wilsonian idealism, which were defended and disguised to promote communism. They include U.S.' support for fierce tyrants like Moi, Mobutu, Barre, Selassie, and Nimieri whose records of human rights were exceedingly terrible across the African continent. Many millions of dollars had to be used to eradicate socialism. For instance, weapons from the U.S. army assumed fundamental roles in conflict situations in Angola, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zaire, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Liberia, and Uganda

The succession of the U.S.' foreign policy also affirms its hesitance in supporting Wilsonian idealism. The then President guided by key strategic interests was unable to act against provincial drives in Portuguese settlements in Africa. His concern for the key bases of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was within the Azores. Evidently, the 1960 self-determination and decolonization-conscious resolutions of the UN that plainly inscribed Wilsonianism were not upheld by Eisenhower's administration. America was among the leading nine nations (South Africa, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Belgium, Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal) to avoid voting in the United Nations' General Assembly. The abstention unmistakably showed that the U.S. authorized racial segregation, oppression and the gross Human Rights violation across the African continent by the colonization powers. U.S. vacillation on the question of Rhodesian was also a reasonable indication of a reluctance to promote human rights policies and democracy in Africa. Although the organizations of the then presidents were usually focused on the issue of politically sanctioned racial…[continue]

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