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Opinion: Is America the moral leader in the world?
America's support for human rights has had its ups and downs, says Michael Barnett.
July 5th, 2012
08:13 AM ET

Opinion: Is America the moral leader in the world?

Editor's note: Michael Barnett is a professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University. He is the author, most recently, of "The Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism."

(CNN) - Independence Day is a celebration not just of America's independence, but also of the values that are important to our nation, like liberty, democracy and human rights.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter suggested that America should be a little less self-congratulatory and a little more self-critical. He was concerned that America is abandoning its role as a leading advocate for human rights. It is hard to disagree with some of his observations. But, America has not fallen behind in providing moral leadership in the world. The current period is no different from earlier decades. It is not, as Carter said, either "cruel" or "unusual."

There is no doubt that both the Bush and Obama administrations have trampled on fundamental human rights norms on the grounds that certain sacrifices must be made in order to protect American national interests. The question naturally arises: Couldn't the United States have found ways to fight terrorism without turning human rights into collateral damage?

Read Michael Barnett's full column

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Article not found....

    September 26, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. therealchella

    Is that a serious question ???! haha

    July 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mickey1313

    We are not any where near a moral leader of the world. Not even close.

    July 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |