The administration of George W. Bush left the international credibility of the United States in tatters and seriously undermined any U.S. claim to leadership in human rights and the rule of law. The Obama administration can begin to repair the damage wrought by the Bush administration by establishing a healthy new respect for public international law. Reengaging the international community multilaterally to develop international law further would be widely welcomed after eight years of unilateral and dictatorial engagement.
The twentieth century will be remembered for the millions of innocent children, women, and men who perished needlessly in war or in large-scale, organized extrajudicial killings. More than 170 million civilians lost their lives, many of them victims of “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock[ed] the conscience of humanity.”