Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy : A Paradoxical Legacy book cover
1st Edition

Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy
A Paradoxical Legacy

ISBN 9780415954235
Published August 21, 2006 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

This book provides a comprehensive historical overview and analysis of the complex and often vexing problem of understanding the formation of US human rights policy over the past thirty-five years, a period during which concern for human rights became a major factor in foreign policy decision-making.

Clair Apodaca demonstrates that the history of American human rights policy is a series of different paradoxes that change depending on the presidential administration, showing that far from immobilizing the progression of a genuine and functioning human rights policy, these paradoxes have actually helped to improve the human rights protections over the years. Readers will find in a single volume a historically informed, argument driven account of the erratic evolution of US human rights policy since the Nixon administration.

Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy will be an essential supplement in courses on human rights, foreign policy analysis and decision-making, and the history of US foreign policy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Paradoxes of U.S. Human Rights Policy  1. The United States System of Foreign Policy Making  1.1 Theories of Foreign Policy  1.2 Foreign Policy Actors  1.3 Tools of United States Human Rights Foreign Policy  1.4 What is Foreign Aid?  1.5 Foreign Aid and Human Rights  1.6 Conclusion  2. Human Rights, the Unintended Consequence: The Nixon and Ford Administrations  2.1 Realpolitik  2.2 Congress and the Imperial President  2.3 The Helsinki Conference  2.4 The Executive Branch Rebuff  2.5 The Public, NGOs and the Media and the Human Rights Agenda  2.6 Conclusion  3. Human Rights Policy, the Unintended Victim: The Carter Administration  3.1 Idealism  3.2 The Implementation of U.S. Human Rights Policy  3.3 Human Rights as an Unintended Victim  3.4 Idealism in a Realist World  3.5 Congress as a Continued Force for Human Rights  3.6 Conclusion  4. The Contradictions of U.S. Human Rights Policy: The Reagan Administration  4.1 Conservative Realism  4.2 The Renewed Cold War Warrior  4.3 United States Foreign Aid  4.4 The Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs  4.5 Congress' Continued Role  4.6 Institutionalizing Human Rights  4.7 Conclusion  5. Human Rights in the New World Order: The George H.W. Bush Administration  5.1 A Pragmatic Conservative Realist  5.2 Bush's Leadership Style and Relationship with Congress  5.3 Political Expediency in International Crises  5.4 The War on Drugs and Human Rights Abuses  5.5 A Kinder, Gentler Central America Policy  5.6. Foreign Aid  5.7. Conclusion  6. Selling Off Human Rights: The Clinton Administration  6.1 Liberal Internationalism  6.2 Repudiated Idealism: The Selling Off of Human Rights  6.3 Assertive Multilateralism  6.4 Foreign Aid  6.5 Congressional Human Rights Initiatives  6.6 Conclusion  7. U.S. Human Rights Policy, the Calculated Victim: The George W. Bush Administration  7.1 Neoconservativism  7.2 The New Imperial Presidency: Bush's Grab of Power  7.3 Democracy at the Point of a Gun  7.4 Foreign Aid  7.5 A Stain on Our Country's Honor  7.6 Conclusion  8. Conclusion: Paradox Lost?

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Clair Apodaca is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Florida International University.


"Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy is a tour de force that provides an in-depth and intelligent history of American human rights policy. More than that, its sharp and passionate analysis shows the hope, but also the despair, in pursuing human rights."

- Mark Gibney, Belk Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina, Asheville

"Understanding U.S. Human Rights Policy takes readers on a president-by-president tour of U.S. foreign policy on human rights....Apocada demonstrates that an effective and successful human rights policy depends on conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch, as well as the active partcipation of nongovernmental organization and the American public.  Anyone interested in exploring what it would take to re-establish human rights and morality in U.S. foreign policy will find important lessons in this fine book."

- Julie Mertus, Professor and Co-Director of the MA program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs, School of International Service, American University

"An excellent, up-to-date, thoroughly documented, and accurate account of the development and institutionalization of human rights promotion as a goal of US foreign policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. Apodaca claims that the neoconservative Bush administration, with the acquiescence of Congress, finally has succeeded in silencing the idealist proponents for human rights promotion. Is she right? If she is right, will US citizens be more or less secure from external threats in the future?"

- David Cingranelli, Department of Political Science, Binghamton University (SUNY)