Force Full

Power, Samantha
March 2003
New Republic;3/3/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 8, p28
Liberals are torn by the dual impulses of protecting human rights on the one hand and restraining U.S. hegemony on the other. The question in 2003, in light of the impending war in Iraq, is whether the United States is structurally capable of using its tremendous power for the good of others. Foreign policy is an explicitly amoral enterprise. Only presidential leadership or domestic political mobilization can override the system's innate orientation toward short-term self-interest. While U.S. President George W. Bush has issued an unprecedented pledge to promote human rights, it has exerted its power in the most illiberal ways--power without the humility it requires in acknowledgment that no one possesses absolute truths. International institutions certainly could not restrain U.S. will. With the unsigning of the Rome Treaty on the International Criminal Court and the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the United States came to be seen less as it sees itself than as the very runaway state international law needs to contain. Much anti-Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic, and military power has played in denying freedoms to others. U.S. decision-makers must understand how damaging a foreign policy that privileges order and profit over justice really is in the long term.


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