Why can’t we seem to do the right thing?
As I read the history of American foreign policy during the past century, one question keeps coming back time and time again.
We know what is right. We have a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, and treaties that obligate us to do the right thing. We have lofty religious traditions, humanitarian ideals and plenty of good citizens to inspire us. So why do we so often end up doing the wrong thing as a nation?
Take the issue of genocide. In her book “Problem from Hell,” Harvard historian Samantha Powers examines our shameful record during the six most egregious episodes of genocide this past century. The long and short of it is, we did absolutely nothing of substance to prevent or stop these tragic occurrences.
Yet it was an American lawyer who lost 49 family members in the Holocaust that devoted his whole life to writing and promoting the international genocide treaty, a treaty that was ratified by 97 nations — except one. Guess which one? Such hypocritical action has cost us dearly.
Yes, we finally signed the Genocide Treaty 40 years later — but with the proviso that the U.S. would be exempt from its provisions. Why can’t we do the right thing?
David C. Duncombe