Clinton, on foreign trip, promotes open societies

Hillary Clinton’s efforts to promote open societies throughout the globe is quite commendable; although also quite unrealistic.

There are aspects of certain societies that simply cannot be changed, not even in one’s lifetime. These things simply have to run their course. As everyone knows, societies evolve, some faster than others. And with some exceptions, many societies actually relive their history as they go through cycles (prosperous periods followed by periods of social and political unrest, followed by prosperous periods, etc.) – Latin American countries are notorious for this kind phenomenon.

The simple truth of the matter is that until such time as the masses throughout the globe are educated, can think for themselves and are no longer dependent on their leaders, who  no doubt control and manipulate them, these changes Mrs. Clinton is talking about will not occur. Unfortunately, this is a complicated process which requires time to manifest itself.

In short, the biggest problem facing much of the people on this planet is government itself, which of course is comprised of individuals. Henry Louis Mencken summarized this best when he said:

” The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.”


Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer

BAKU, Azerbaijan – On America’s Independence Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is challenging what she calls a global crackdown on human rights, lamenting a “steel vise” squeezing the life out social activism.

Clinton arrived in this Caspian Sea nation Sunday after declaring in Poland that intolerant governments around the world are undercutting rights groups whose work is vital to the development of democracy. She said the trend is apparent, and growing worse, even in countries that call themselves democracies.

At the palatial residence of President Ilham Aliyev overlooking the vast, glimmering Caspian, Aliyev and Clinton spoke briefly before reporters and TV cameras.

Aliyev wished her a happy Fourth of July and then stressed the urgency of his country’s territorial dispute with neighboring Armenia. The two nations are in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under control of Armenian troops and ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire.

“This is the major problem for us and the major threat to regional security,” he said.

At an airport news conference later with her Azeri counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, Clinton said they had discussed at length the territorial dispute.

“The final steps toward peace are often the most difficult, but we believe peace is possible,” Clinton told reporters.

“This is a high priority for the United States,” she added. She said the 1994 cease-fire agreement “must be enforced.”

Following her meeting with Aliyev, Clinton gathered with about a dozen Azeri youth activists, including bloggers, to encourage them to speak out in favor of social change.

“I happen to think a lot of the success of countries in the 21st century is because they are open societies,” she said, sitting beneath a pair of fig trees in the courtyard of a stone building that served as a way station for caravaners hundreds of years ago.

She said she raised the issue of freedom of expression in her talks with Aliyev.

“You know better than I there is lots of work to be done” to strengthen Azerbaijan’s political system, she told the youths.

She said she and President Barack Obama both have received letters about Azeri bloggers imprisoned for their writings.

On Saturday, addressing an international conference in Poland on democracy and human rights, Clinton recalled Winston Churchill’s warning 60 years ago that an iron curtain was descending across Europe. She noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union that curtain no longer remains.

“But we must be wary of the steel vise in which governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit,” she said.

Among the offenders she cited: Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cuba, Belarus, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, China and Russia.

Clinton said her current trip, which began in Ukraine on Thursday and is to include stops in the former Soviet states of Armenia and Georgia, is intended to demonstrate the Obama administration’s commitment to democracy and human rights.

Well traveled as a former first lady and former U.S. senator, Clinton said she had never before been to Azerbaijan, Armenia or Georgia.

In Krakow, Poland, on Saturday, Clinton cited a broad range of countries where “the walls are closing in” on civic organizations like unions, religious groups, rights advocates and other non-governmental organizations that press for social change and shine a light on governments’ shortcomings.

“Some of the countries engaging in these behaviors still claim to be democracies,” Clinton said, adding, “Democracies don’t fear their own people. They recognize that citizens must be free to come together, to advocate and agitate.”

Clinton spoke at the opening of a 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Community of Democracies, which has 16 members and is meant to forge international consensus on ways to support and promote democracy.

Later Sunday Clinton was scheduled to fly to the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

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