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U.S. Counterterrorism Policy and Superpower Compliance with International Human Rights Norms
Fordham International Law Journal
  • Kenneth Anderson
Publication Date
Our specific topic is Guantanamo, but in my brief remarks I would like to take the long view of U.S. counterterrorism policy (including Guantanamo) and link it to the question of the compliance of the United States, as today's superpower, with international human rights norms, its relationship to the United Nations and, speaking very broadly, international law norms as conceived by the international community. This is partly a question of the relationship of U.S. counterterrorism policy to international law. But it is also a question of the relationship of the superpower to the rest of the international community, and in particular to the United Nations (“U.N.”). I propose here merely to sketch out certain questions and possible answers. The inquiry I have in mind is frankly speculative. It makes assumptions about international politics that the reader might well find questionable. These remarks jump over those and many other hurdles in order to offer a big picture of the relationships between superpower status and compliance, on the one hand, and counterterrorism and international human rights norms, on the other. This version of the big picture may be quite wrong, but I persist in believing that it is necessary sometimes to try to see a big picture, if only to correct it. These topics require making certain assumptions about the nature of the superpower, its power, and the future of its power, among other things, that properly belong to the realm of international politics as much as law. A quick excursion through the political and foreign policy journals, the op-ed pages, and political commentary reveals, of course, vast disagreement on these questions. I spend more time than I should in Washington, D.C. at meetings of foreign policy experts and am struck with how different, and often mutually exclusive, the factual assessments of U.S. power are, even from people who share roughly the same political commitments, left or right.
Citation Information
Kenneth Anderson. "U.S. Counterterrorism Policy and Superpower Compliance with International Human Rights Norms" (2006) p. 455
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