The Bureau Of Human Rights During The Carter Administration
Victor S. Kaufman
When James Earl Carter was elected president in 1976, he made it clear that one of his main initiatives would be a strong defense of human rights throughout the world. To this end, he initially enhanced the power and prestige of the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, an agency established earlier in 1976 by Congress to promote human rights as part of American foreign policy. Many scholars writing on the Carter administration’s human rights initiative have noted that despite its rhetoric, the administration was inconsistent in applying the policy. Few scholars, though, have studied how bureaucratic conflicts affected the human rights initiative. Six months after Carter took office, the position of the human rights office had already begun to erode as other government departments and agencies attempted to subvert the bureau’s influence. By the end of 1980 the human rights office had virtually no power at all, as the White House, increasingly concerned with national security, distanced itself from its early human rights stance.
The Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs had been established only a few months prior to Carter’s election when Congress, in response to what it considered a high level of amorality in American foreign policy, passed the International Security and Arms Export Control Act. Section 301 of the act provided within the State Department a Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger largely ignored the new agency, however, on the grounds that promoting human rights did not mix well with their commitment to realpolitik.(1)
Carter himself had not always pressed the issue of human rights. As late as 1975, he criticized the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which imposed economic sanctions against Moscow for not allowing Soviet Jews to emigrate, on the grounds that it interfered with the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. He soon changed his mind, however. Human rights offered a means of uniting a Democratic Party bitterly divided by the 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns; it would give liberal Democrats a reason to attack right-wing governments and conservative members of the party an excuse to level charges against the Soviet Union. Moreover, Carter came to see a close link between human rights and his own born-again Christian background.(2)
In his inaugural address, the new president reiterated that his commitment to human rights would be “absolute”(3) These rights, explained Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in early 1977, fell into three categories: “the right to be free from governmental violation of the person” which included freedom from arbitrary arrest or imprisonment, or torture; “the right to the fulfillment of such vital needs as food, shelter, heath care, and education”; and “the right to enjoy civil and political liberties” such as freedom of religion, speech, and assembly.(4) Sanctions for nations violating these rights, the administration made clear, would not be limited to behind-the-scenes discussions. Indeed, public statements, symbolic gestures, and economic and military aid sanctions were added to the arsenal of weapons the White House planned to use against countries that violated human rights. The intent was to put so much pressure upon repressive governments that they would be forced to end their abuses.(5)
Soon after taking office, Carter appointed Patricia Derian coordinator of the Bureau of Human Rights. Derian, who had worked as Carter’s deputy national campaign director, had been a strong supporter of the 1960s civil rights movement. In 1964, she gathered signatures to put Lyndon Johnson’s name on the Mississippi ballot. She also helped organize the Loyalist Mississippi Democratic Party, which in 1968 challenged the all-white Mississippi state delegation at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago. Moreover, Carter had promised to place women in high government positions, and Derian seemed an appropriate choice. As the agency’s coordinator, she intended to be a forceful and outspoken champion of human rights. As she told Warren Christopher, Carter’s nominee for undersecretary of state, “If you want a magnolia to decorate foreign policy, I’m the wrong person. I expect to get things done.”(6) Carter’s presence at her swearing-in ceremony suggested that he would give Derian his full support.
Furthermore, in April 1977, at the initiative of National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Council ordered the establishment of the Interagency Group on Human Rights and Foreign Assistance. Also known as the “Christopher Group” because it was chaired by Undersecretary Christopher, it included representatives from all departments of government as well as the National Security Council, Export-Import Bank (which financed U.S. exports by providing loans for buying American services and goods), and the Bureau of Human Rights. The group’s purpose was to examine all military and economic aid proposals to determine whether to provide such aid. In short, Derian’s agency had a voice in all questions of U.S. foreign assistance. Finally, in August 1977–with the backing of both Christopher and lawmakers on Capitol Hill–Derian’s position was elevated from “coordinator” to Assistant Secretary for Human Rights. The very change in title suggested that both Derian and the human rights office would strongly influence American foreign policy.(7)
Carter’s own foreign policy actions and those of other high-level government officials seemed to confirm that he was serious about giving Derian a large voice in policy making. For instance, Carter and Vance expressed their opposition through private channels to the abuse of human rights by the governments of a number of countries, including Argentina, the Soviet Union, and South Africa. But the White House also aired its views publicly as Carter and Vance took a number of countries to task, including Chile, South Africa, Uganda, Rhodesia, and the Soviet Union. The president acknowledged that such public accusations created “some temporary adverse reaction” but declared he did not intend to “back down on it.”(8) U.S. officials also engaged in symbolic gestures against human-rights violators. During a goodwill visit to Latin America in 1978, First Lady Rosalynn Carter purposely avoided the nations of the Southern Cone–Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay–“so as to not put a stamp of approval on regressive regimes.”(9)
Moreover, Carter was prepared to follow words with action. Using its influence in the multilateral development banks–such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank–the White House abstained on or voted against economic aid to several countries, including Argentina, Ethiopia, Laos, and Uruguay, because of their repressive governments. For the same reason, it curtailed military assistance to several Latin American nations.(10)
Yet the signals that Carter intended to take a hard line on human rights and support the Bureau of Human Rights’s efforts were belied by a series of decisions that slowly undermined the agency’s influence. This assault came from competing bureaus and departments of government and even the White House itself.
As Lincoln Bloomfield, a former member of the National Security Council specializing in global issues, wrote in an internal memorandum to Brzezinski at the end of the Carter presidency, “It was not long before the Administration felt the need to apply a balancing corrective to the widespread impression that the US Government was to be an activist advocate in all countries of the world on all varieties of human rights.”(11) In fact, the “correction” began as soon as Carter took office. On 31 January 1977, Secretary Vance stated that the administration would not take an “absolute” position on human rights but would adopt a case-by-case stance. In practice, this meant that nations of strategic importance to the United States, such as South Korea or the Philippines, would not receive substantially less U.S. economic or military aid, despite the repressiveness of their governments.(12)
In April, Vance stressed importance of recognizing “the limits of our power and wisdom” and cautioned against “hubristic attempts” “mechanistic formulas,” and “automatic answers.”(13) Carter followed suit the following month in a commencement address at Notre Dame, noting the need to avoid “rigid moral maxims” and to acknowledge “the limits of moral suasion.”(14)
The adoption of a case-by-case stance affected a number of countries. The administration wanted to normalize relations with China and therefore took a cautious stance toward Beijing. U.S. security interests, meanwhile, precluded strong pressure not just on Iran, South Korea, and the Philippines, but also Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Yemen, and Indonesia. One significant exception was the Soviet Union. The Kremlin strongly opposed the attacks upon it by Carter and other administration officials for its human rights violations and even threatened to link negotiations over a SALT II treaty to Washington’s attitude. Brzezinksi’s strong anti-Soviet attitude reinforced Carter’s intention not to let Moscow’s position deter him; most notably, the president imposed economic sanctions against the Soviet Union in mid-1978 following the trials and imprisonment of several dissidents.(15)
The administration recognized its inconsistency. In January 1978, Anthony Lake, the director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, told Vance that the human rights policy now focused largely on Latin America alone. As Lake pointed out, the administration had taken a much harder position on economic and military aid to Latin America than to other areas of the world. A number of reasons, “some better than others,” underlay this position: The United States had greater leverage in Latin America than in other parts of the world; it had a smaller security and economic interest there; and there were severe violations of human rights in the region.(16)
The National Security Council early on had conflicted with Derian’s office over the issue of human rights. In March 1977, Brzezinski warned Carter that the human rights initiative, combined with the administration’s interest in nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, could “produce a backlash in some Latin American countries,” prompting “a kind of coalition of Latin American countries against us.” Of particular concern was Brazil because of its strategic importance to the United States. The following year, Brzezinski again cautioned the president that the White House risked “having bad relations simultaneously with Brazil, Chile, and Argentina because of the way State was implementing our human-rights.”(17)
Some members of the State Department, particularly those in the Foreign Service, shared Brzezinski’s concerns about the human rights initiative and the Bureau of Human Rights. Derian and her senior deputy, Mark Schneider, had never been Foreign Service officers, leading the Service to regard them as outsiders. An additional area of contention was the bureau’s focus. As a functional bureau, the Bureau of Human Rights looked at only one issue, human rights. Under its mandate, it monitored aid to foreign nations, formulated human rights policy, prepared annual country reports, and gave non-governmental human rights organizations a voice in the executive branch. The focus on a single issue created tensions with the geographic bureaus of the State Department, which examined U.S. policy toward various regions of the world. To the geographic bureaus, Derian and Schneider were combative, unwilling to take into account the variety of considerations that went into formulating U.S. foreign policy. Richard Holbrooke, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said that the difference between Derian and himself “was that she was myopically fixed on human rights as the only plank in American foreign policy while he [also] had to be concerned about America’s security and economic interests.”(18) Similarly, Terence Todman, undersecretary of state for Inter-American Affairs, felt that bureau heads, unlike the human rights office,
… tend to look at interrelationships or activities, [gauging] the impact
of actions in one area on results in another area…. [P]eople who have not
gone through the same kind of thing tend to be more focused just on one
issue, one area, tend to be more determinist.(19)
Holbrooke and Todman were probably the two strongest opponents of what they regarded as the Bureau of Human Rights’ limited vision. For example, in early 1978, Derian traveled to Manila, where she criticized Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos for his record on human rights. Marcos was furious. Fearing that Derian’s criticism threatened Marcos’s approval of an agreement concerning U.S. bases in the Philippines, Holbrooke persuaded Vice President Walter Mondale over Derian’s objections to travel to Manila to repair the damage he thought the bureau head had done.(20) Todman was less successful in his opposition to the human rights office. Frustrated with the constant attacks upon what he considered to be friendly Latin American governments because of their human rights records, he lambasted the administration’s human rights policy in a speech in February 1978. In response, Carter reassigned him as ambassador to Spain.(21)
While the geographic bureaus were not completely successful in their efforts to limit the Bureau’s influence, the same cannot be said for other governmental bureaus and departments. Here the process began fairly early on when Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance Lucy Benson demanded that all assistance under her purview be exempt from oversight by the Christopher Group. This included the two largest and most “diplomatically potent” types of U.S. aid: military assistance, which included training and arms transfers, and Security Supporting Assistance, made up primarily of low-interest loans and cash or cash-like grants. Benson argued that allowing the Christopher Group to examine such assistance would infringe upon her authority, and she threatened to resign if she did not get her way. Carter backed down because of her importance to the State Department and because her resignation also would reflect poorly upon his promise to appoint women to high government office. By the middle of 1978, the Food for Peace Program, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the Agency for International Development, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development were also removed from the Group’s purview.(22)
Derian had several possible means of recourse. Though the Bureau could not examine military aid requests through the Christopher Group, it could do so via its seats on Benson’s Security Assistance Program Review Working Group and its parent organization, the Arms Export Control Board. The problem, noted Bloomfield, was that “if the case was bumped up to higher levels, PM [the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs] or the regional bureaus (who usually advocated positive action) invariably won out and the sale would be approved.”(23) Hence, as Stephen Cohen, Carter’s deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights and security assistance, said, the Security Assistance Program Review Working Group “did not mean anything.”(24)
A second possibility was to turn to Congress for support, but lawmakers themselves were divided over the human rights policy. Republicans leaned in favor of measures aimed at leftist governments and opposed those aimed at rightist regimes. Democrats tended to the opposite pattern of voting. Even within the parties there were distinctions. Senators Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon), Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), and James Abourezk (D-South Dakota) and Representatives Donald Fraser (D-Minnesota) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) believed Carter’s policy was not strong enough. Representatives William Moorhead (D-Pennsylvania), Joseph Minish (D-New Jersey), Gus Yatron (D-Pennsylvania), and Robert Lagomarsino (R-California) believed it was too tough. In between these two groups was Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota), who favored allowing the administration a more flexible position. Moreover, in 1978, a number of lawmakers who favored a stronger position on human rights were not reelected. Among them were Fraser, Representative Helen Meyner (D-New Jersey), and Senator Richard Clark (D-Iowa). Another human rights advocate, Representative Leo Ryan (D-California) was killed in Guyana that year. In short, there was no guarantee that the Bureau of Human Rights could achieve its aims through Congress.(25)
A final possibility was to appeal directly to Carter or Vance. But while Vance and Christopher consulted on decisions regarding actions to be taken, Vance generally left the final decision up to Christopher, and it was unlikely he would overrule his subordinate. Furthermore, while he was committed to human rights, Carter–and Vance–had to weigh that issue against other considerations. In the Christopher Group, though, the human rights office was at least guaranteed a hearing. The end result was that by mid-1978 at the latest, the Bureau of Human Rights found its purview limited largely to Latin America and, more than that, to aid from the multilateral development banks.(26)
For example, when Iranian leader Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi visited Washington in November 1977, Heidi Hanson of the human rights bureau pointed to the shah’s repressive rule and told Press Secretary Jody Powell that it was vital during Pahlevi’s visit not to sidestep human rights: “The bureaucrats here have to know we’re here to stay–that human rights is still a part of our Foreign Policy–no matter who we are talking with.” Carter, though, considered good relations with Iran more important; while he raised the issue with the shah, he was careful not to press it.(27)
The president took a similar stance with regard to Romania. Derian opposed American support for the government of Nicolae Ceaucescu, but the White House regarded him as “an admirable individualist, pluckily facing down the mighty Soviet bear.” Therefore, when the Romanian leader visited Washington in April 1978, he received a warm welcome, and the administration obtained congressional approval to give Romania most-favored-nation status.(28)
Though strongly opposed to the administration’s backtracking, Derian avoided directly attacking the White House. In March 1977, she had told lawmakers that it was important
never [to] send a double message, that we say on the one hand, yes, we
believe very deeply in human rights, but of course, in this area it is not
a consideration. It will give the lie to what it is that we profess to or
hope to improve.(29)
The following month, she stated in testimony that the inconsistency of the policy was “a troublesome, worrisome thing” and represented “a problem we have to try to resolve.”(30)
Carter, however, regarded flexibility as necessary to promoting human rights. In 1977, Representative Harkin introduced legislation requiring the administration to vote “no” on loans to repressive nations from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Brzezinski opposed the bill, explaining that it would “destroy any negotiating flexibility on our part” and lock the White House “into a sterile, ineffective position.”(31) The president agreed and supported a measure introduced by Senator Humphrey giving him more freedom of action with the international financial institutions. The House and Senate compromised, approving legislation requiring a ban on economic aid to repressive nations unless that assistance benefited the poor. Realizing Congress would not give him all he wanted, Carter reluctantly signed the bill.(32)
The president was more successful in retaining control over military assistance. In June, Senator Edward Roybal (D-California) introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill to prevent the allocation of $700,000 in training assistance for Argentina. When the bill reached the Senate, Senator Kennedy proposed his own rider to terminate immediately all military aid to Argentina, including assistance in the “pipeline”–referring to approved orders for military aid not yet delivered. Once again, the administration turned to Humphrey, who introduced an alternate amendment to delay any termination of assistance until 30 September 1978. The House and Senate agreed to the Humphrey amendment, and the bill was signed into law in October 1977.(33)
An even more telling example of Carter’s determination to control dispersal of military aid concerned Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Added in 1976, 502B urged the president to take human rights considerations into account when providing aid to other nations except under “extraordinary circumstances.” In 1978, 502B became mandatory. To circumvent the new law, according to Deputy Assistant Secretary Cohen, Carter twisted its language, dividing it into four categories:
1) New weapons: tanks, artillery, fighters and bombers, and naval warships;
2) Spare parts for previously acquired weapons; 3) Support equipment:
trucks, unarmed aircraft and ships, radios, and radars; and 4)
Safety-related items: ambulance aircraft and air-sea rescue equipment.
The administration did not provide items from category 1) to repressive governments. Sending materials from category 4) was acceptable “because of the direct connection with saving lives,” but Cohen strongly opposed providing items from categories 2) and 3) since they were “as critical to military performance as weapons themselves.” Carter, however, considered the materials in categories 2) and 3) an inducement to repressive governments to alter their ways, and since these were not new items, they did not fall under 502B. Using this line of reasoning, the president provided spare parts and support equipment to El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.(34)
Bloomfield recalled that Argentina specifically represented “one of the most difficult and vexing cases” when it came to human rights. It also exemplified the brewing dispute between the bureau and the National Security Council over the human rights initiative. In August 1978, Robert Pastor, the Latin American specialist on the National Security Council, reminded Brzezinski and David Aaron, the deputy assistant for National Security Affairs, that the 30 September deadline for providing military aid and training assistance was approaching. “Both the Argentines and we are eager to take steps which would permit the enormous backlog of credit to be committed before then,” Pastor said.(35) To beat the deadline, the National Security Council sought help from Viron Vaky, who had replaced Todman at Inter-American Affairs. The Bureau of Human Rights strongly opposed aid to Argentina, but in the end the administration provided $120 million of $200 million in military aid Argentina requested in 1977 and 1978.(36)
There were two closely linked reasons why Carter supported a flexible policy. First, he favored a “carrot-and-stick” approach by which he held out the possibility of economic or military aid if the target nation agreed to reduce its human rights violations or further sanctions if it did not. In short, he saw flexibility as consistent with his own support for human rights. Second, as noted earlier, providing such aid would give the United States leverage in other countries. Derian opposed the White House’s reasoning, as she made clear her last year in office:
I don’t favor the carrot-and-stick approach to human rights. I think it
doesn’t work. I don’t think you can buy people out of jail without insuring
and guaranteeing that the next time whatever it is you bought them with is
wanted. And 5,000 people wind up sitting in the cooler until you deliver
the next installment. I don’t think that works.(37)
Derian’s complaints achieved little. By 1979, the Bureau of Human Rights was having an even more difficult time making its voice heard than before. For instance, in 1979 the administration faced the issue of relations with Cambodia, as Cambodia’s recently-ousted leader, Pol Pot, sought recognition of his opposition government by the United Nations. Derian strongly opposed Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had been responsible for millions of deaths in Cambodia. Vance, however, feared the effect not backing Pot would have upon U.S. policy toward China–Beijing supported the Cambodian leader–and within the Far East in general. Therefore, over Derian’s objections, he supported Pot’s claim. That same year, Derian fought a request from Iran for crowd control equipment, including tear gas, but lost.(38)
Iran was one of a series of international crises the administration faced during 1979, with others occurring in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. The net result was to place less emphasis on human rights and more on U.S. security concerns abroad. As Brzezinski later wrote,
In the first two years of the Administration, [the issue of human rights]
tended to overshadow the pressing requirements of strategic reality. In the
last two, we had to make up for lost time, giving a higher priority to more
fundamental interests of national security.(39)
Domestic politics also served to de-emphasize human rights. As political scientist David Skidmore notes, by “rejecting the tried and true techniques of the cold war period, the Carter administration left itself without a coherent strategy of legitimization.” Human rights, in short, did not attract as much public attention as the administration had hoped. As public opinion moved increasingly to the right during 1979, Carter followed suit. The president used the crisis in Afghanistan in particular, contends Skidmore, “to rally public support and … restore his fractured domestic credibility.”(40)
While Carter continued to condemn the Soviet Union for human rights abuses, especially after its invasion of Afghanistan, other countries continued to be taken off the hit list, most notably in Latin America, and emphasis on human rights issues continued to erode. During the first week of April 1979, a group of lawyers from New York City traveled to Argentina to view firsthand the human rights situation in that nation. Derian forwarded a copy of the report, which strongly condemned the government of General Jorge Videla, to Brzezinski, but the national security adviser refused to read it. His response reflected both his interest in security issues as opposed to human rights and his tense relationship with Derian’s office: He sent her a short, blunt letter in which he simply thanked her for the lawyers’ report and said he had forwarded it to others for their perusal.(41)
At a cabinet meeting that October, Christopher informed the attendees of the “importance of Latin America to the United States and indicated that the entire range of U.S. Latin-American relations would be receiving higher priority attention in the coming year.” Carter concurred, telling the cabinet that “it was critically important for the United States to be perceived in a helpful and supportive posture to the states in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.” He added that “there were years of mistrust of American intentions that had to be considered as new policy initiatives were developed and implemented.”(42)
The administration pushed hard to provide military assistance to Latin American nations despite their human rights records. In 1979, Vance, over the objections of the human rights bureau, asked Congress for $250,000 in military training funds for Guatemala. Lawmakers rejected the request, but the administration continued to press forward. Citing an improved human rights situation in Uruguay, Carter, for the first time in his term of office, authorized arms transfers to Montevideo in order to improve relations with that country. In addition, the White House balked at a State Department recommendation, which most likely originated in Derian’s office, for a tougher stance toward Argentina.(43)
Derian’s frustration with the administration became public in early 1980 as her influence further declined. As she told members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “I often find myself in the decisionmaking process not in the majority.”(44) She also began to attack White House policy openly. In February, she assailed the administration’s carrot-and-stick approach. In April, she explained to lawmakers that despite representations to the Philippine government about its human rights abuses, “not much has changed. And it is confused by the aspect of security assistance. There is no doubt about it.” Derian also pointed to her opposition to Carter’s interpretation of Section 502B. Despite congressional legislation, she said, military aid continued to reach Chile and Argentina. She added,
I think that you deny security assistance because you do not wish to
associate with the practices of that government; you do not wish to
participate in their practices with the use of your materials, and you do
not want to aid them in their budget by taking a big chunk of the budget
they were going to use for military supplies and making it available for
Derian’s frustration peaked in mid-1980. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Argentine government decided not to join a U.S.-led grain embargo against Moscow. The White House considered it imperative to improve relations with Buenos Aires to bring it in line with U.S. policy and began to discuss renewing military aid to Argentina. Although Congress had denied military assistance to Argentina, the very fact that voices within the administration were calling for such aid was too much for Derian, and she threatened to resign: “[I]t is probably too late now for them to back down [but if] they don’t I’m leaving, and I won’t say it’s for personal reasons.”(46)
Within a week, though, Derian decided to stay when the White House decided not to provide new military aid to Argentina. Whether her action was the deciding factor in the White House’s decision is not clear; however, two things are certain. First, her resignation would have hurt Carter. At that time, he was fighting for the Democratic nomination against Senator Edward Kennedy. Had Derian resigned, Kennedy could have used her resignation as evidence that the administration lacked real commitment to human rights. Second, the very fact that the administration even discussed providing military aid to Argentina represented a further dilution of the human rights policy. The White House had already admitted in January 1978 that its policy on human rights was limited largely to Latin America. Now, in 1980, it was removing the stress upon Latin America, leaving few countries covered by human rights provisions. In April, Esteban Torres, director of the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs, forwarded to the president a memo he received from a prominent jurist complaining about the reduced emphasis on human rights. The jurist argued that this was a mistake. Carter wrote in the margin of the letter, “I agree”(47) Pragmatism had eaten away the human rights policy.
It is clear that Congress had good intentions in setting up the Bureau of Human Rights and that Carter similarly had good intentions in trying to give it more power. But neither seemed to understand the difficulties in turning intentions into action. Once in office, Carter quickly realized that promoting a human rights policy was much more complex than he had imagined, and human rights soon took second place to national security issues. Derian’s position within the bureaucracy further diminished as other government departments successfully challenged the Bureau of Human Rights’ prerogatives. Derian’s agency was largely left to its own devices, fighting to make its voice heard in a Congress, bureaucracy, and White House that seemed unable or unwilling to accept the role the bureau was supposed to play.
This is not to suggest that Derian was simply a token appointment to garner support from women voters. Had Carter intended the Bureau of Human Rights to remain impotent, as it had been under Ford, he could have appointed a director with less commitment to the issue (just as Ronald Reagan tried to do in nominating Ernest Lefever as the bureau’s head). Although Reagan failed to get Lefever’s nomination accepted, he and his successor, George Bush, further limited the bureau’s power. Its purview was further restricted, and the Christopher Group was informally dismantled. The bureau “languished as the `laughing stock’ of the State Department.”(48) Since the 1993 inauguration of Bill Clinton, the bureau, renamed the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, has had some of its former prerogatives restored, and it now has the additional task of reporting to the United Nations on the status of human rights in the United States. But the bureau continues to fight to make its voice heard in an administration which, like its predecessors, places national security and economic considerations above those of human rights. It remains a bureau embattled.(49)
(1) Edward S. Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and Implementation of US Human Rights Law” Human Rights Quarterly 11, no. 2 (1989): 178 n. 1, 179.
(2) Burton I. Kaufman, The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr. (Lawrence, Kan., 1993), 38; Joshua Muravchik, The Uncertain Crusade: Jimmy Carter and the Dilemmas of Human Rights Policy (Lanham, Md., 1986), 2-4; A. Glenn Mower Jr., Human Rights and American Foreign Policy: The Carter and Reagan Experiences (New York, 1987), 14-15.
(3) James Earl Carter Jr., Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, 1977-81, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C., 1977), 2.
(4) Cyrus Vance, “Human Rights and Foreign Policy,” Department of State Bulletin, 23 May 1977, 505.
(5) Draft of Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC-28, “Human Rights,” 7 July 1977, 32-43; White House Office of the Counsel to the President, box 19, Jimmy Carter Library, Atlanta, Georgia (hereafter JCL).
(6) Raymond Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Foreign Policy (New York, 1987), 180; Angus Deming, “Carter’s Point Woman,” Newsweek, 16 May 1977, 70; Conversation between A. Glenn Mower Jr. and Derian, December 1985, quoted in Mower, Human Rights and American Foreign Policy, 70.
(7) Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator, 180; Howard Warshawsky, “The Department of State and Human Rights Policy: A Case Study of the Human Rights Bureau,” World Affairs 142 (1980): 194; Lincoln Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal,” 11 January 1981, 13, Donated Historical Material–Brzezinski, box 34, JCL; Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and Implementation of U.S. Human Rights Law,” 1979-80.
(8) Cyrus Vance, Hard Choices: Critical Years in America’s Foreign Policy (New York, 1983), 265; Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (New York, 1982), 146; Muravchik, The Uncertain Crusade, 36; House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights Conditions in Selected Countries and the U.S. Response, 95th Cong., 2d sess., 25 July 1978, 32-33; Carter, Public Papers, vol. 1,99-100, 220, 341, 503, 541, 782; vol. 2, 1922; “Secretary Vance Interviewed on `Face the Nation,'” Department of State Bulletin, 21 March 1977, 247.
(9) Roberta Cohen, “Human Rights Diplomacy: The Carter Administration and the Southern Cone,” Human Rights Quarterly 4 (1982): 222; Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains (Boston, 1984), 213.
(10) Caleb Rossiter and Anne-Marie Smith, “Human Rights: The Carter Record, the Reagan Reaction,” International Policy Report, September 1984, 14-17; Stephen B. Cohen, “Conditioning U.S. Security Assistance on Human Rights Practices,” American Journal of International Law 76 (1982): 270.
(11) Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal,” 11, 12.
(12) Bernard Gwertzman,”Vance Says the U.S. Won’t Be Strident over Rights Abroad,” New York Times, 1 February 1977, A1; “Secretary Vance’s News Conference of January 31,” Department of State Bulletin, 21 February 1977, 138.
(13) Bernard Gwertzman,”Vance Asks Realism in U.S. Rights Policy,” New York Times, 1 May 1977, 1.
(14) Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional AppraisaL” 12.
(15) Ibid., 17-18; Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator, 186-87; John Dumbrell, The Carter Presidency: A Reevaluation (Manchester, 1993), 125-26; Gaddis Smith, Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years (New York, 1986), 38, 67-68.
(16) Lake to Vance, memo, “The Human Rights Policy: An Interim Assessment,” 16 January 1978, White House Central Files, box HU-1, JCL.
(17) Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981, rev. ed. (New York, 1985), 128.
(18) Rossiter and Smith, “Human Rights: The Carter Record, the Reagan Reaction,” 5; Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator, 177; Warshawsky, “The Department of State and Human Rights Policy,” 195; Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and the Implementation of U.S. Human Rights Law,” 1977, 180-81, 186.
(19) Terence Todman, telephone interview by author, 1 October 1992.
(20) Bonner, Waltzing with a Dictator, 224-31.
(21) Muravchik, The Uncertain Crusade, 37-38; Rossiter and Smith, “Human Rights: The Carter Record, the Reagan Reaction,” 21.
(22) Rossiter and Smith, “Human Rights: The Carter Record, the Reagan Reaction,” 7-11.
(23) Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal,” 14-15.
(24) Quoted in Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and Implementation of US Human Rights Law” 207.
(25) David S. Broder, “Human Rights: Jingoists Snap to Attention,” Los Angeles Times, 30 June 1977, pt. 2, 7; Letter from 1978 delegation to Latin America to Carter, 13 March 1978, box HU-1, White House Central Files, JCL; Lars Schoultz, Human Rights and United States Policy toward Latin America (Princeton, 1981), 150-51; Peter C. Stuart, “Human Rights: New, Low Profile,” Christian Science Monitor, 29 January 1979, 4; see also David P. Forsythe, Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy: Congress Reconsidered (Gainesville, 1988).
(26) Mower, Human Rights and American Foreign Policy, 73.
(27) Harson to Powell, memo, 16 November 1977, White House Central File, Special File, box CO-31, JCL.
(28) Dumbrell, The Carter Presidency, 186.
(29) House Subcommittee on International Trade, Investment, and Monetary Policy, To Extend and Amend the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, 95th Cong., 1st sess., 25 and 28 March 1977, 83.
(30) Senate Subcommittee on International Organizations, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 95th Cong., 1st sess., 1, 21, 22, 27, and 29 April 1977, 225.
(31) Schoultz, Human Rights and United States Policy toward Latin America, 285-87; Brzezinski to Carter, 13 April 1977, White House Office of Counsel to the President, box 19, JCL.
(32) Carter to DeConcini, 3 August 1977, Staff Offices Counsel Collection, Lipshutz, box 19, JCL; Spencer Rich, “Hill Steps into Human Rights Debate,” Washington Post, 15 June 1977, A12; Congressional Quarterly Almanac: 1977 (Washington, D.C., 1977), 375.
(33) Schoultz, Human Rights and United States Policy toward Latin America, 259-60; Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 35, no. 25 (1977): 1208 and no. 26 (1977): 1282, 1305.
(34) Stephen Cohen, “Conditioning U.S. Security Assistance on Human Rights Practices,” 252-54, 273-75.
(35) Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal,” 20; Pastor to Aaron and Brzezinski, memo, 9 August 1978, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, box 1, JCL.
(36) Pastor to Brzezinski, memo, 31 August 1978, and Pastor to Aaron and Brzezinski, memo, 25 September 1978, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, box 1, JCL; Stephen Cohen, “Conditioning U.S. Security Assistance on Human Rights Practices,” 275.
(37) Schoultz, Human Rights and United States Policy toward Latin America, 221; Stephen Cohen, “Conditioning U.S. Security Assistance on Human Rights Practices,” 275; House Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs and on International Organizations, Human Rights in Asia: Noncommunist Countries, 96th Cong., 2d sess., 4, 6 and 7, February 1980, 192.
(38) Vance, Hard Choices, 126-27, 325.
(39) Brzezinski, Power and Principle, 145.
(40) David Skidmore, “Carter and the Failure of Foreign Policy Reform,” Political Science Quarterly 108 (Winter 1993-94): 699-729.
(41) Smith, Morality, Reason, and Power, 68; Dumbrell, The Carter Presidency, 128-29; Association of the Bar of the City of New York, “Report of the Mission of Lawyers to Argentina, April 1-7, 1979”; Derian to Brzezinski, 7 June 1979; Thornton to Brzezinski, 15 June 1979; Brzezinski to Derian, 19 June 1979, all in National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, box 1, JCL.
(42) Minutes of cabinet meeting of 24 October 1979, Vertical File, “Cabinet Meeting Minutes, 12/21/78-12/13/80,” JCL.
(43) Congressional Quarterly Almanac: 1979 (Washington, D.C., 1979), 126; Stephen Cohen, “Conditioning U.S. Security Assistance on Human Rights Practices,” 273; House Subcommittees on International Security and Scientific Affairs on Human Rights and International Organizations and on Inter-American Affairs, Proposed Transfer of Arms to Uruguay, 97th Cong., 1st sess., 15 September 1981, 6, 14; Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal” 21.
(44) House Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade on Africa and on International Organizations, U.S. Policy toward South Africa, 96th Cong., 2d sess., 30 April; 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, and 22 May; and 10 June 1980, 328.
(45) House Subcommittee, Human Rights in Asia, 183, 192.
(46) Thornton to Denend, memo, 23 April 1980 and Claytor to Carter, 27 October 1980; National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, box 1, JCL; Graham Hovey, “U.S. Says It Remains Concerned over Human Rights in Argentina” New York Times, 3 June 1980, A4; Ann Crittenden, “Human Rights and Mrs. Derian,” New York Times, 31 May 1980, A16.
(47) Hovey, “U.S. Says It Remains Concerned over Human Rights in Argentina” A4; Schneider refused to be interviewed regarding the resignation threat, and Derian did not respond to the author’s request for an interview; Bloomfield, “The Carter Human Rights Policy: A Provisional Appraisal” 40.
(48) Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and Implementation of U.S. Human Rights Law,” 183.
(49) See Maynard, “The Bureaucracy and Implementation of U.S. Human Rights Law,” 182-85, 188-91; Rossiter and Smith, “Human Rights: The Carter Record, the Reagan Reaction,” 22-26; Mower, Human Rights and American Foreign Policy; Robert Cullen, “Human Rights Quandary,” Foreign Affairs 71 (Winter 1992-93): 79-88; Aryeh Neier, “Watching Rights,” Nation 258 (24 January 1994): 79; Midge Decter, “The State Department vs. America,” Commentary 98 (November 1994): 65-67; Alan Tonelson, “Power and Human Rights: A Post-Cold War Dilemma,” Current, no. 371 (March/April 1995): 32-36.
Victor S. Kaufman is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Ohio University.
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