It takes a remarkable presumption of good faith, or perhaps stupidity, to imagine that the Burmas or Sudans of the world would reciprocate Mr. Obama’s engagement except to seek their own advantage.

It also takes a remarkable degree of cynicism—or perhaps cowardice—to treat human rights as something that “interferes” with America’s purposes in the world, rather than as the very thing that ought to define them. Yet that is exactly the record of Mr. Obama’s time thus far in office.

In Massachusetts not long ago, I found myself driving behind a car with “Free Tibet,” “Save Darfur,” and “Obama 08” bumper stickers. I wonder if it will ever dawn on the owner of that car that at least one of those stickers doesn’t belong.