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What did Carter mean when he claimed that he would make human rights a key part of American foreign policy Early in his presidency Carter explained that US support for human rights involved promoting human freedom worldwide and protecting the individual from the arbitrary power of the state These principles grew out of the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which established the foundation of the modern human rights movement Carter believed in holding accountable Americas allies as well as its adversaries for their human rights failings an approach that risked straining relations with friends and widening existing rifts with foes These were risks Carter was willing to takeThe Carter administrations human rights record was mixed The President and his advisers denounced human rights violations by the Soviet Union and its East European allies In addition American allies like South Korea also came under tough criticism for repressing democratic dissent Moreover the United States took tangible actionsincluding the suspension of military or economic aidto protest the human rights practices of the governments of Chile El Salvador Nicaragua and Uganda On the other hand the Carter administration toned down its human-rights based criticisms of the Soviet Union after the Brezhnev government threatened to end arms control talks Moreover Carter refused to halt the sale of military supplies to Iran whose government violently repressed its opponents even though some of his advisers urged him to do soThe legacies of Carters human rights gambits were just as mixed as their practice Carter more than any previous President injected human rights considerations into American foreign policy legitimizing these concerns in the process But conservative Republicans like Jeanne Kirkpatrick who would become US representative to the United Nations in the Reagan administration skillfully and successfully attacked Carter for supposedly undercutting American allies by criticizing their human rights shortcomings These attacks proved harmful to Carter during the 1980 election
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