Will U.S. Human Rights Efforts Wilt Under Trump?

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In remarks to his staff at the State Department this May, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to announce a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy. While lauding the fundamental American values of “freedom, human dignity, and the way people are treated,” Tillerson went on to say that “those are our values…not our policies” and that the full-throated promotion of such values can create “obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests.”

To many, this speech – in combination with statements from President Trump both during the campaign and in office – indicated the administration’s deep ambivalence, if not hostility, towards the pursuit of a values-based foreign policy and the international promotion of human rights. However, in a surprise move late last month, the administration denied Egypt $96 million in economic aid and $195 in military aid citing, in part, the country’s poor human rights record.

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