Michael Posner

  • Aired:  08/04/10
  •  | Views: 20,088

Michael Posner believes it's in America's best interest to encourage stable democracies that respect human rights. (6:49)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR

THE BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN

RIGHTS AND LABOR.

TALK ABOUT A RENAISSANCE

BUREAUCRAT.

PLEASE WELCOME MICHAEL POSNER.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

HEY, MR. POSNER, THANKS SO MUCH

FOR COMING ON.

NOW, YOU WORK AT THE STATE

DEPARTMENT, RIGHT?

>> I DO.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

AND YOU, ARE AS I SAID, THE

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR

DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND

LABOR.

HOW WAS CHELSEA'S WEDDING?

>> WASN'T THERE.

>> Stephen: YOU WEREN'T THERE?

>> NO, I WAS WORKING.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE THE

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE.

AREN'T YOU TECHNICALLY THE

ASSISTANT MOTHER OF THE BRIDE?

>> NOPE.

>> Stephen: NO.

ALL RIGHT.

DEMOCRACY, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN

RIGHTS AND LABOR, WHAT DO THEY

HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

>> WELL, THEY'RE VERY MUCH

RELATED.

HUMAN RIGHTS IS A WAY IN WHICH

PEOPLE HAVE A DEMOCRATIC

EXPERIENCE.

PEOPLE NEED TO SPEAK PUBLICLY,

TO PARTICIPATE IN POLITICAL

PROCESS.

THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO ORGANIZE

THEMSELVES.

THEY NEED TO...

>> Stephen: IN THE UNITED

STATES YOU MEAN?

>> IN THE UNITED STATES AND

EVERYWHERE.

>> Stephen: WELL, THERE ARE

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THEN THERE ARE

AMERICAN RIGHTS.

[LAUGHTER]

AT WHAT POINT DO THE HUMAN

RIGHTS OF PEOPLE IN THESE OTHER

COUNTRIES, YOU KNOW, GET IN THE

WAY OF MY ABILITY TO BUY TWO

DOZEN TUBE SOCKS FOR $1.29.

DOESN'T THERE NEED TO BE SOME

LIMIT ON THAT?

>> ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT

OUR COUNTRY IS THAT WE REALLY DO

BELIEVE IN THE RIGHT OF PEOPLE

TO ORGANIZE IN A LABOR CONTEXT.

WE BELIEVE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT

TO HAVE DIGNITY IN THE WAY THEY

WORK.

AND WE BELIEVE THAT OUR WAY OF

DOING THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY IS

SOMETHING THAT IS PART OF OUR

LIFEBLOOD.

IT'S PART OF WHO WE ARE AS A

PEOPLE.

AND IT'S SOMETHING WE NEED TO BE

EXPORTING AND SHARING WITH THE

REST OF THE WORLD.

PEOPLE LOOK TO US FOR

LEADERSHIP.

>> THEY SHOULD LOOK TO US FOR

LEADERSHIP, AND THEY SHOULD

THEREFORE DO WHAT WE SAY BECAUSE

WE'RE THE LEADERS.

NO, LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP,

LEADERS TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO DO.

>> NEW YORK WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE

TO ORGANIZE WITHIN THEIR OWN

SOCIETIES.

WE'RE REALLY NOT ABOUT TELLING

OTHERS WHAT TO DO.

>> Stephen: WHAT IF THEY

ORGANIZE IN WAYS WE DON'T LIKE?

WHAT IF THEY ORGANIZE IN WAYS

THAT ARE RESISTANT TO THE

INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES OF

AMERICA?

>> THE INTERESTS OF THE UNITED

STATES ARE REALLY TO HAVE

DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES, STABLE

DEMOCRACIES THAT RESPECT HUMAN

RIGHTS AND PEOPLE THAT ARE IN A

WORKPLACE WHERE THEY FEEL

THEY'RE BEING TREATED DECENTLY

WILL BE GOOD WORKERS.

THEY'RE GOING TO BE STABLE

WORKERS.

THEY'RE GOING TO PRODUCE GOOD

PRODUCTS.

AND THOSE ARE THE PRODUCTS THAT

AMERICANS WANT TO BUY.

>> THAT'S LABOR.

WE'VE COVERED LABOR.

LET'S GO HUMAN RIGHTS.

DOESN'T EVERYBODY HAVE PRETTY

MUCH HUMAN RIGHTS RIGHT NOW?

EVEN OUR BIGGEST COMMIE ENEMIES,

CHINA, WE PLAY BUSINESS FTSE

WITH THEM AND THEY'RE WEARING

WOOL LEXES SO ALL IS GOOD,

RIGHT?

>> WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT IS

WE'RE PRINCIPLED IN THE WAY WE

APPROACH A COUNTRY LIKE CHINA.

WE DO CARE ABOUT A ECONOMIC AND

SECURITY RELATIONSHIP, BUT HUMAN

RIGHTS HAS TO BE THE CENTER OF

WHAT WE DO.

WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FACT

PEOPLE CAN'T PRACTICE THEIR

RELIGION.

WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT PRISONERS

BEING HELD BECAUSE OF THEIR

VIEWS.

WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FACT

THAT IT IS A SOCIETY THAT BANS

INTERNET FREEDOM.

WE'VE GOT TO BE CLEAR ABOUT OUR

PRINCIPLES.

>> NOW, WE'VE ACTUALLY GOT MORE

PEOPLE IN PRISON THAN CHINA

DOES.

>> I'M NOT SURE THAT'S TRUE.

>> Stephen: NO, IT'S TRUE

BECAUSE I JUST SAID IT.

[LAUGHTER]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

THAT'S CALLED LEADERSHIP, WHAT I

JUST DID RIGHT THERE.

ARE YOU SAYING THAT... DOES THE

UNITED STATES HAVE ANY HUMAN

RIGHTS ABUSES?

AND BEFORE YOU ANSWER, KEEP IN

MIND THE UNITED STATES IS NOT

DOING ANYTHING WRONG.

GO.

>> THE WRITES IS A LEADER ON

THESE ISSUES, BUT WE'RE ALWAYS

TRYING TO FORM A MORE PERFECT

UNION.

THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN DO TO BE

BETTER THAN WE ARE, BUT WE ARE A

LEADER AND WE ARE AN EXEMPLAR

FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: SO WHAT HUMAN

RIGHTS ABUSES, LIKE WHAT ARE THE

WORST ONES THAT ARE OUT THERE

RIGHT NOW, AND BEFORE YOU

ANSWER, KEEP IT LIGHT.

>> YOU KNOW, IT'S A TOUGH WORLD

OUT THERE.

>> Stephen: IT'S A BIG ONE,

TOO.

>> IT'S A BIG ONE.

>> BUT IT IS ALSO A WORLD WHERE

IN AFRICA THERE ARE DOZENS OF

WARS GOING ON.

PEOPLE ARE VERY VULNERABLE.

WE HAVE LOTS OF PROBLEMS IN

MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES ABOUT

PEOPLE MOTT BEING ABLE TO SPEAK

FREELY, TO PICK THEIR OWN

GOVERNMENTS.

WE'VE GOT TO BE ATTENTIVE TO

THESE THINGS BECAUSE THEY DO

MATTER TO OUR ABILITY TO BE A

STABLE WORLD.

>> Stephen: WELL, YOU SAY

THERE ARE STILL WOMEN WITHOUT

RIGHTS, AND THERE ARE STILL

PEOPLE NOT ALLOWED TO PRACTICE

THEIR RELIGION.

IS THAT TRUE?

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> YOU THINK WE SHOULD FIX BOTH

OF THOSE?

>> IN MY JUDGMENT, RELIGIONS ALL

ARE... PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE ABLE

TO PRACTICE THEIR RELIGION

FREELY AND RELIGIONS ALL OUGHT

TO BE RESPECTING OF THE RIGHTS

OF WOMEN.

I DON'T THINK THOSE THINGS ARE

CONTRADICTORY.

>> WHAT IS IN YOUR RELIGION,

PART OF YOUR RELIGION IS NOT

GIVING WOMEN RIGHTS?

>> WELL, I THINK PEOPLE INTERRAT

RELIGIONS IN DIFFERENT WAYS, AND

I THINK PART OF OUR CHALLENGE IS

TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE

CONSISTENT WITH OUR BELIEFS THAT

WOMEN NEED TO BE EMPOWERED AND

NEED TO BE TREATED EQUALLY, AND

AT THE SAME TIME, WE OUGHT TO BE

TREATING...

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: SO WE'VE DONE

LABOR.

WE'VE DONE HUMAN RIGHTS.

LET'S TALK DEMOCRACY.

WE'VE GOT DEMOCRACY.

WHY DOES ANYBODY ELSE NEED IT?

IF THEY REALLY WANT OUR

DEMOCRACY, SHOULDN'T THEY INVITE

US TO INVADE THEM AND GIVE IT TO

THEM?

[LAUGHTER]

WORKED IN THE PAST.

>> YOU KNOW, THERE IS A ROLE FOR

THE 82ND AIRBORNE TO PRODUCE

STABILITY IN THE SHORT TERM, BUT

IN THE LONG TERM, PEOPLE HAVE TO

HAVE INSTITUTIONS THAT WORK.

THEY HAVE TO HAVE COURTS THAT

WORK.

THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO

CHOOSE THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT.

THEY HAVE TO HAVE A FREE PRESS.

THEY HAVE TO HAVE A STAKE IN

THEIR OWN SOCIETY.

THAT'S WHAT DEMOCRACY IS ABOUT.

THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ALL OVER THE

WORLD WANT.

WHEN COUNTRIES ARE GOOD ALLY,

THAT'S BETTER FOR US.

>> Stephen: LAST QUESTION,

DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND

LABOR, YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE?

>> I LOVE THEM ALL.

>> Stephen: YOU LOVE THEM ALL?

ARE THEY LIKE YOUR CHILDREN?

>> I WORKED FOR MANY YEARS

OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT FOR A

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, SO

THAT'S THE STARTING FOR ME.

>> Stephen: I'D GO WITH

DEMOCRACY BECAUSE HUMAN RIGHTS

ARE DEPRESSING, AND LABOR,

LOVELY PEOPLE, BUT HAVE YOU SEEN

THEIR HANDS?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF

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