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Monday, 10th November 2008

Respect for International Law Is First Step in Reclaiming America’s International Leadership and Credibility

Respect for International Law Is First Step in Reclaiming America’s International Leadership and Credibility
Source: The Century Foundation

To reclaim American leadership and credibility in resolving the many deepening crises on America’s international agenda, the next administration must move swiftly to reverse the U.S. rupture with international law and institutions of the past decade, writes the director of foreign policy programs at The Century Foundation in a new policy brief.

In “First Steps Toward Restoring American Leadership: Legality Matters,” Jeffrey Laurenti argues that the collapse of America’s global standing during this decade—a direct consequence of Washington’s most cherished assumptions about power and exceptionalism superseding traditional commitments to respecting international law—has real and measurable consequences in shriveled U.S. capacity to influence events worldwide. Allied governments hang back from American military engagements, reject Washington’s candidates for international leadership posts, and circumvent U.S. opposition to chart global policy on issues from climate change to international justice.

The brief outlines the deteriorating respect for international legality in Washington since movement conservatives gained ascendancy in America’s foreign policy machinery after 1980, on issues ranging from payment of treaty assessments, rulings of the International Court of Justice, human rights obligations on torture and war prisoners, and the use of force. The United States had honored those legal commitments without harm to America’s core interests from the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower to those of Ford and Carter, Laurenti underscores, and it needs to reverse recent years’ ideological detour.

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