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Hard-Nosed Idealism and U.S. Human Rights Policy.

Sloss, David
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Saint Louis University Law Journal. 46: 431.

According to David Sloss, the history of foreign policy by the United States can be characterized as a pendulum swinging between the extremes of moralistic idealism and amoral “realpolitik.â€? In this context, Sloss characterizes Harold Koh’s prescription for a twenty-first century human rights policy as “hard-nosed idealism.â€? Koh’s perspective roots in four guiding principles: (1) telling the truth; (2) justice; (3) inside-outside engagement; and (4) preventing future human rights abuses. Sloss contends that Koh’s four principles have a common theme. That theme is the attempt to craft a middle way between moralistic idealism and amoral realpolitik. In general, Sloss endorses Koh’s hard-nosed idealism. At the same time Sloss highlights areas in which Koh’s application of his four principles to specific cases is problematic.


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