The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy

The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy - The Rise of Ethics...

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The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy Leslie Gelb and Justine Rosenthal. 2003. The Rise of Ethics in International Politics. Foreign Affairs. May/ June 2003 In the space of a few weeks recently, here's what happened on the international morality and values front: Madeleine Albright testified at a Bosnian war crimes tribunal, the State Department's chief policy planner argued that promoting democracy was one of the most important reasons to go to war with Iraq, and a top Bush administration diplomat traveled to Xinjiang to examine China's treatment of its Muslim citizens. The news stories were routine and unremarkable -- which is what was remarkable. A former secretary of state at a war crimes trial. Democracy for Iraq. Beijing allowing a U.S. human rights official to check out its domestic policies. Such events occur regularly now with little comment, no snickering from "realists," indeed with little disagreement. Something quite important has happened in American foreign policymaking with little notice or digestion of its meaning. Morality, values, ethics, universal principles -- the whole panoply of ideals in international affairs that were once almost the exclusive domain of preachers and scholars -- have taken root in the hearts, or at least the minds, of the American foreign policy community. A new vocabulary has emerged in the rhetoric of senior government officials, Republicans and Democrats alike. It is laced with concepts dismissed for almost 100 years as "Wilsonian." The rhetoric comes in many forms, used to advocate regime change or humanitarian intervention or promote democracy and human rights, but almost always the ethical agenda has at its core the rights of the individual. This development of morality cannot be seen simply as a postmodern version of the "white man's burden," although it has that tenor in some hands. These values are now widely shared around the world by different religions and cultures. Movements for democracy or justice for war crimes are no longer merely American or Western idiosyncrasies. And although some in America's foreign-policy community may still be using moral language to cloak a traditional national security agenda, one gets the sense that the trend is more than that. In the past, tyrants supported by Washington did not have to worry a lot about interference in their domestic affairs. Now, even if Washington needs their help, some price has to be exacted, if only sharp public criticism. Moral matters are now part of American politics and the politics of many other nations. They are rarely, even in this new age, the driving forces behind foreign policy, but they are now a constant force that cannot be overlooked when it comes to policy effectiveness abroad or political support at home. THE EVOLUTION OF AN IDEA
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This note was uploaded on 07/26/2009 for the course INTA 2030 taught by Professor Staff during the Summer '08 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy - The Rise of Ethics...

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