An Old Chestnut…

There is an old saying by Abraham Maslow that goes, “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” There is concern in some circles that the human rights movement in the West is too easily turning to military intervention and military force to solve the global human rights issues. There was a time when the human rights movement opposed wars. This no longer seems to be the case. Last May, Stephen Kinzer made that exact assertion in an Op-Ed for the Boston Globe, entitled “Are human rights activists today’s warmongers?”. He says,
“This is a radical development in the history of the human rights movement. Once it was generals, defense contractors, and chest-thumping politicians who saw war as the best solution to global problems. Now human rights activists play that role. Some seem to have given up on diplomacy and statecraft. Instead they promote the steady militarization of American foreign policy.”

We need to heed these, and other warnings, that the human rights movement does not become a clarion call to endless war that global terrorism has been seen to be. Policy makers, diplomats, and military commanders need all the tolls they can get in their toolkit. Sometimes a screwdriver does work after all.

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