The Realist Prism: Chen Saga Pits U.S. Rhetoric vs. Interests

The saga of Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing this past week, is still unfolding. Yet the Obama administration appears to have encountered its own version of President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Hungary 1956” moment: the point at which idealistic rhetoric about U.S. support for freedom and democracy collides with the harsh realities of U.S. national interests. As long as Chen was detained in internal exile in the village of Dongshigu, he was an out-of-sight martyr for whom rhetorical support could easily be expressed without too much risk of damaging the larger Sino-American […]

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