Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fanton: U.S. Exerts Global Reach

Human rights advocate Jonathan Fanton said the United States desperately needs to have conversation and cooperation with international institutions in a lecture in Riggs Library yesterday afternoon.

In his 20 years with Human Rights Watch, Fanton has visited numerous countries throughout the world, including every country in the former Soviet Union. He has also traveled to Canada, Africa and Bhutan, where he said he met “ordinary people in a remote place looking for American help but bitterly disappointed.”

He cited conversations with individuals in each of these countries that illustrated their dissatisfaction with America’s involvement in international affairs.

He also spoke with Muslim students who were expelled from a university in Uzbekistan.

“They asked me, `Why doesn’t the United States put more pressure on Uzbekistan?'” Fanton said. “U.S. pressure on Uzbekistan has been an on-and-off thing, and never very effective.”

In a northern Canadian province, he met with a member of the Arctic Council who told him that the United States representative of the Council was attempting to delay the release of a report on climate change that would seriously affect the Inuit population.

He also met with Africans who were angry and disappointed by the closings of numerous family planning centers that provided services to pregnant women.

In Bhutan, Fanton met with officials who were offended by the United States’ attempt to “play by a separate set of rules.”

Fanton said that all of these people shared a sense that “their destinies are intertwined and dependent on international affairs” and a “disappointment, mildly and politely put, that the United States is part of the problem and not the source of the help they need.”

Fanton also discussed the overwhelming international disapproval of United States foreign policy. He cited several statistics from recent polls, saying that 76 percent of European allies disapprove of American foreign policy, and at least half of those polled in numerous countries currently have less confidence in the United States than in past years.

According to Fanton, these statistics suggest the decline of three of America’s assets – moral leadership, legitimacy and credibility.

He said that he felt the United States must work with international institutions and balance military involvement with ethical practices.

Fanton said the majority of Americans also feel the United States should work more with the United Nations and participate in the International Criminal Court.

Political leaders, he added, consistently underestimate the American opinion on foreign policy. He said many politicians see Americans as “more inward-looking, more selfish and less sophisticated about international affairs” than they really are.

Fanton also expressed disappointment in the lack of substantive debate during the recent presidential campaign.

“I thought this last campaign was a disappointment in terms of really not having the conversation that we need to have,” he said.

Fanton, however, expressed optimism for the future course of the country, emphasizing the need for the United States to participate in a significant international conversation.

“I don’t think it is too late to change our course,” he said. “But we’ve got to speak up, and our representatives in Congress have got to speak up.”

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