A number of big thinkers are talking about how human dignity should be central to the next administration's foreign policy approach.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing Harvard professor John Ruggie talk about his efforts to get the United Nations to codify corporate responsibility. During his speech to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Ruggie mentioned the central importance of human dignity in this age.
Former Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote about the same thing in his recent book Second Chance. David Ignatius puts it like this in his article "A Manifesto for the Next President" in the Washington Post:
Brzezinski argues that the world is undergoing a "global political awakening," which is apparent in radically different forms from Iraq to Indonesia, from Bolivia to Tibet. Though America has focused on its notion of what people want (democracy and the wealth created by free trade and open markets), Brzezinski points in a different direction: It's about dignity.
"The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening," he argues. His worry is that America -- enfeebled by "material self-indulgence, persistent social shortcomings, and public ignorance about the world" -- may not get it.
The United States is yearning to restore its moral place in the world. The reason people are so focused on defining a more ethical foreign policy is because that is precisely what is lacking right now.
White House scandals and a failed foreign policy agenda; a tired military; inflation and oil worries; consumer product concerns; environmental worries... the list could go on. It sounds like the 1970s. Let's hope it sounds like 1975 and we are headed for a different, more constructive tone in Washington.