January 17, 2015

Discouraging Human Rights Violations

Flag of Saudi Arabia
Flag of Saudi Arabia (Public Domain Images)
I find myself wishing these days that the United States had not seriously undermined our moral standing in the world by refusing to hold our political leaders accountable for war crimes, including torture. Even if it is not too late for us to remedy this serious moral lapse now, it seems clear that we remain unwilling to do so.

It seems to me that we would be operating from a more solid position in seeking to discourage human rights violations on the part of allies like Saudi Arabia if we had only shown some moral backbone in dealing with our own atrocities. I have to imagine that many other countries have a difficult time taking us seriously when we complain about their various abuses. We tortured people and continue to refuse to hold those who authorized it accountable in any way. And now we want to lecture other countries on their human rights violations?

Of course I would like to see the United States intervene to stop human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The manner in which the Saudis have treated Raif Badawi is appalling, and I sincerely hope that the international outcry brings his punishment to an abrupt halt. Our own moral failings aside, intervening on the side of human rights is still the right thing to do. It just seems like we might have a bit more clout when we did intervene if we were a bit better about following our own advice.

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