By Jimmy Quinn
As the 2024 presidential race heats up, a group of conservative foreign-policy experts is calling out what it says are the Biden administration’s failures on human rights, accusing the White House of going soft on anti-U.S. dictatorships.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden repeatedly said that he would put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy, but the Forum for American Leadership (FAL), a group that includes several veterans of GOP presidential administrations, says that he has failed to do so in several important cases.
FAL will make that case in a new briefing document, authored by several senior Trump and Bush administration officials, that it plans to send to the policy teams for each of the GOP primary candidates and national-security staff on Capitol Hill. National Review obtained a copy in advance of its release.
“President Biden promised that human rights would be a central part of his administration’s foreign policy, yet around the world, the results have fallen short of the rhetoric. From genocide in Xinjiang to making billions of dollars available to the Iranian regime, this Administration has failed to hold egregious human rights abuses to account,” said Connor Pfeiffer, the executive director of FAL.
The FAL experts write that the Biden administration’s commitment to human rights has fallen short on several accounts, including the fact that it has only designated twelve people under human-rights sanctions for their involvement in the Uyghur genocide, the disastrous state in which the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan left the country, and the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela’s state-controlled oil refineries.
“The next administration should implement a foreign policy with human rights as one of its key pillars, because securing the dignity, freedom, and rights of all men, women, and children worldwide is not only right but would strengthen national security by undermining our adversaries,” says the brief.
The paper also hits the administration for rejoining the U.N. Human Rights Council. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of that body in 2018, citing its anti-Israel bias and the role of dictatorships in its proceedings. China, which is currently a member, is running unopposed for another term on the council. The FAL experts write that Biden’s decision to reenter the U.S. into it legitimizes “efforts to blunt criticism of their human rights records.”
FAL proposes a human-rights agenda that involves a maximum-pressure sanctions campaign targeting Iran in addition to Venezuela, and more cooperation with “new, middle-power democracies,” as well as with “autocracies that share American interests” such as Vietnam.