Restore Humanity to America’s Foreign Policy

Target: Rex Tillerson, United States Secretary of State

Goal: Encourage human rights as a cornerstone of American aid for Syrian citizens and disadvantaged populations worldwide.

Recently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a meant-to-be-empowering speech solidifying American commitment to peace and stability in one of the world’s most destabilized regions: Syria. While military support and an eventual government overthrow were cornerstones of the speech, no attention was given to the human rights abuses that exist – carnage that will surely increase in the wake of escalating instability. The Syrian government allegedly still continues launching devastating chemical attacks on its people, sentencing countless citizens to a living hell if they stay or a purgatory-like limbo if they leave.  Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice challenged Tillerson on his failure to address US policies regarding refugees and humanitarian aid. He responded that human rights issues “didn’t resonate very well” in times of war, despite history telling us that sometimes the greatest atrocities take place during war.

This dismissal by Secretary Tillerson reflects a very dangerous broader perspective taken on by the current administration: a perspective that demeans and diminishes human rights worldwide. Consider a similar speech made by Vice President Mike Pence, in which he defended his own omission of human rights issues by saying he only raised concerns that mirrored “America First” policies. This speech took place in Egypt, whose government at this very moment openly arrests and persecutes members of the LGBTQ community. Given Pence’s spotty record on human rights, this stance should hardly come as a surprise. Neither should the concerted effort by US government officials to drastically reduce foreign aid or else hold it hostage until certain moral standards are met (such as outlawing aid to organizations that perform abortions).

This administration, especially the man charged with leading its diplomatic efforts, should remember that “America First” does not mean losing the very principles and defining characteristics of America itself. Sign this petition and demand Secretary Tillerson honor human rights in Syria and beyond and advocate for policies that carry forward the sprit of humanitarian aid that has long fueled the United States.


Dear Secretary Tillerson,

Your recent speech concerning Syria reflected some realities and truths while demonstrating strong dedication to restoring Syria to peace and stability. These efforts, however, lack one absolutely essential component: human rights. Without needed supplies, refuge, and understanding, any gains made by the people of Syria from a regime change will be washed away. Just as America needed to reconstruct itself following the Civil War, Syrian citizens need a stable foundation for rebuilding. These people have endured chemical attacks and so many other untold atrocities. Their basic, fundamental right not just to life but to a better life should never be viewed as a non-priority.

Human rights are always intertwined with the right to life, and the systematic erosion of those rights creates an existence for many to which death may be preferable. Would we have ever considered human rights a backburner issue during World War II, when a few rights violations escalated into the largest genocide effort in the world’s history?

Please keep the lessons of history and the lessons we still learn today in your mind and heart. Prioritize human rights in Syria, in all of your diplomatic decisions, and in this country that should always reflect and embody the best the world can offer.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mstyslav Chernov

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  1. Lies….Assad isn’t the one using the gas
    our intervention is the source of the cruelty

  2. GEN AGUSTSSON says:


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