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The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy: Reaching a Values Consensus

Courtesy Reuters

In the space of a few weeks recently, here's what happened on the international morality and values front: Madeleine Albright testified at a Bosnian war crimes tribunal, the State Department's chief policy planner argued that promoting democracy was one of the most important reasons to go to war with Iraq, and a top Bush administration diplomat traveled to Xinjiang to examine China's treatment of its Muslim citizens. The news stories were routine and unremarkable -- which is what was remarkable. A former secretary of state at a war crimes trial. Democracy for Iraq. Beijing allowing a U.S. human rights official to check out its domestic policies. Such events occur regularly now with little comment, no snickering from "realists," indeed with little disagreement.

Something quite important has happened in American foreign policymaking with little notice or digestion of its meaning. Morality, values, ethics, universal principles -- the whole panoply of

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