Yemen: Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam

Three years ago, the royal family of Saudi Arabia asked the United States to support the Saudi’s planned military intervention in Yemen’s civil war. Before requesting U.S. help in this venture, the Saudis attempted to raise a Pan-Arab army that would sweep into Yemen to expel the Houthis, a Shi’a minority group in a region that is largely Sunni, and impose a government that would be more favorable to the Saudis. Their attempt failed. Other Arab countries did not rally to the Saudis. In hindsight, of course it failed. Who would want to fight and die for the royal family of Saudi Arabia and further Saudi political ends?

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Humor, Hope, and Human Rights: On the Loss of Robin Williams

Luckily for me, though perhaps not for them, I have had the opportunity to meet, work with, and come to know a few comedians. I was the advance man for Dick Gregory's cross-country Run Against Hunger in 1976 and had a campaign for human rights in Burma take off with the involvement of Jim Carrey in 2007.

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Human Rights Are for All Folks: Security and Liberty

This spring, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, traditionally sympathetic to the intelligence community, accused the CIA of searching and spying on the computers of Senators and their staffers. CIA head John Brennan loudly asserted that "nothing could be further from the truth."

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Manifest Delusion: Debunking American Exceptionalism to Protect Human Rights

It's hard to not think about America with our Independence Day recently renewing fresh memories of fireworks, barbecues, and flags. A country of superlatives in matters economic, military, and cultural exports, talking about America's future finds fountains of opinions often strong but which mostly sing the same chorus.

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Revolvers: Blurred Lines Between Human Rights Organizations and the State Department

Americans have long held governments, as well as politicians, as not quite worthy of trust. With a public that already believed that governments trick the citizenry to enrich politicians and insiders, people have been further shaken in recent years. 

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On Universal Human Rights: Navi Pillay, Prince Zeid, and Keeping a Strong Voice at the United Nations

My first meeting with Navanetham ("Navi") Pillay was when she was studying law while at Harvard University along with Jessica Neuwirth. Neuwirth eventually became the legal advisor at Amnesty International USA and one of the producers of the Human Rights Now music tour.

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Twenty Five Years After Tiananmen

The Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred 25 years ago, with troops moving into Beijing and the Square by late on the morning of June 3 and with a full assault going on by the early hours of June 4. Estimates of deaths range from the hundreds well into the thousands, with many more injured.

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On a Human Rights Attitude and Advocacy: The Gregory-Chappelle (or Angelou-Baldwin) Doctrine

Having lost Maya Angelou only a few days ago, I'm reminded of her indefatigable commitment to not merely embrace the world but to wrestle with its problems and not let them go until the world became better for everyone. 

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Truth, Justice, and Accountability: The Luck of the Irish?

To many outsiders, and the vast majority of Americans, it is difficult to imagine how truly grimly awful the period of discord known as The Troubles was to those in Northern Ireland. Sited mainly there, with plenty of spillover to both the Republic of Ireland and also across the sea in England, the conflict between the late 1960s and late 1990s involved over fifty thousand casualties in the part of Europe that Americans usually think of primarily as "like America."

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Sunflowers, Symbols, and Nukes: A 2014 Taiwan Primer

Taiwan is the little island that has both disappeared from the political stage and is everywhere present in the everyday lives of people throughout the United States. It is not mentioned in any meaningful way in discussions of policy in the halls of our political institutions or media and it is not discussed as anything other than an afterthought in discussions of the People's Republic of China (PRC). But it is far too easy to dismiss Taiwan without a closer look. While the People's Republic of China has over 60 times the population, it is Taiwan that clocks in with a GDP four times as large per capita, a vibrant multiparty political system, religious and press freedoms that are among the best in Asia, and provisions for national healthcare that place it on par or even ahead of the EU.

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Counting Down: Burma's Race to the Bottom for Human Rights

As someone who has been long-interested in the struggle for the peoples of Burma to earn for themselves the full promise of human rights and real democracy, I waited with the world for the promise of reform and transition. Having been a founder of theUS Campaign for Burma, a deep advocate for the cause of all ethnic nationalities there, and the leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to lead her country from the darkness of authoritarian abuse to the brightness of an empowered future, I watched and held my breath in the so-called thaw in Burma. 

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Taiwan's Straits: Democracy at a Crossroads

Taiwan is situated at a crossroads culturally and geographically. With linguistic roots in common with Southeast Asia, contemporary cultural influences from Northeast Asia, and impacts felt internationally in technology and business, the island straddles a number of tectonic plates that make it seismically active. 

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The Torture of the Torture-Excusers

Once upon a time, I recommended that we find an attorney general who would pursue the former administration for torture, disappearances, and secret prisons. Doesn't having the nation come to terms with these formative and basic violations of the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (both letter and spirit) and our very own Constitution seem like a good way to have begun to move forward? 

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First Ladies, First Principles, and Foundational Documents

In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady, took examples of the dregs of history and aimed for a better ever after. With clarity, power, and consensus, she shepherded the creation and ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The resulting document has become the bedrock for international human rights work around the globe and across cultures.

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Burma is at a Crossroads? Again?

Ever more often these days, people are asking again about whether to use the term "Burma" or Myanmar" to refer to the country between Thailand and Bangladesh, bordering India, China, and the sea. Not long ago, those asking were usually keen to discern the lingo to identify themselves as members of the "okay" crowd, those interested in political and social evolution in the nation. They were determined to avoid the sense of alliance to the oppressors, whether out of a genuine concern for human rights or a market sensibility to avoid any choices in language that might haunt one for years to come.

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Spring in the Horse Year: Free Chen Shui-bian

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has just sent a representative to meet with a high-ranking member of the Chinese government in Beijing. Given the proximity of Taiwan to the People's Republic, among other things, this should be neither unusual nor a source of criticism. But President Ma is a member of the Kuomintang (KMT), the party of Chiang Kai-shek that has governed Taiwan after losing the civil war in China, and "relocating" to Taiwan and the horrors they visited upon the ten thousand or more killed in the 2/28 Incident

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No Left Left in the United States

President Clinton always struck me as an arrogant narcissist. Those qualities are present in many politicians and forgivable in some, but his transformation of the Democratic Party into the "liberal" branch of the GOP can not go unnoticed. He and former Fox commentator Dick Morris, who thought that Romney won the last election, engineered it. 

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