Getting Our Reputation Back

People around the world who aren’t our enemies now distrust us as allies

And, as Shattuck also points out, there are countries who now cite our methods—the methods that Joe Biden condemned—as a justification for their own brutalities. "Fighting terror has become a convenient excuse for repressive regimes to engage in further repression, often inspiring further terrorism in an increasing cycle of violence. . . . "

Among these brutal nations are Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and Cuba, whose foreign minister, Felipe Pérez Roque, gloats that "Bush authorized torture at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib and is [an] accessory to the kidnapping and disappearance of people as well as . . . clandestine prisons. " (See my column, "How We Delight Our Enemies," in the November 13, 2007, Voice.)

Shattuck urges that this country "should take the lead in drafting a comprehensive treaty defining and condemning terrorism within a framework of human rights," thereby helping to "counter the claim that differences in cultural values, religious beliefs, political philosophies, or justifiable ends make it impossible to define the crime of terrorism."

But who among the presidential candidates is most capable of leading the effort to create such an international human-rights consensus: Barack Obama? John McCain? Would either make Joe Biden our new secretary of state?

And if we have a Democratically controlled Congress next year, of what use in restoring our global reputation will the clueless Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi be? Maybe Biden can find time to tutor them.

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