American respect

With the recent events in Myanmar, it has become apparent that America has lost the international respect and moral authority that is necessary in condemning the atrocities of others. As a nation, we must pay attention to human rights violations that we have direct control over before condemning the rest of the world for their offences. In the last few years, America has been looking less and less like the beacon of equality under law that it once was. We may have laws protecting the inherent rights of citizens, but now our own rights violations are starting to become public and apparent. The war in Iraq, along with Guantanamo Bay, has greatly hurt America in such regards. It does not make sense for us to condemn others when we still have much work to do before we actually practice what we preach. Unfortunately, America seems to only be getting worse. The New York Times recently reported that memos from the justice department authorized simulated drowning, head-slapping, exposure to frigid temperatures, and lengthy periods of sleep deprivation as legally acceptable techniques by the Central Intelligence Agency. When White House press secretary Dana Perreino was asked about the reports, all she did was reiterate that America is well within Constitutional law and the Geneva Conventions in the interrogation methods that it practices. The Eighth Amendment states that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The methods listed above seem to fall well inside cruel and unusual punishment. Our record in Iraq is not much better, either. The White House opposed a recent bill that would make private contractors that are working in Iraq and other war zones, such as Blackwater, subject to prosecution by US courts. This is extremely important, especially in light of recent events where private contractors were found to have killed many unarmed civilians. The White House stated that the bill would have “unintended and intolerable consequences for crucial and necessary national security activities and operations.” A government that gives permission to torture humans and says there would be “intolerable consequences” for holding people accountable for murder is not a government that has much room to condemn other governments for any human rights violations. We have condemned Myanmar for the actions taken by their government and we have condemned China for funding genocide in Darfur. What has been the ultimate result of our actions? Very little. America must stop the violations that we as a country commit to ultimately win back our previous level of moral authority.