The U.S. has squandered its intellectual honesty, Mahbubani says.
Kishore Mahbubani: I think the world would be much better if you had a two-way street of ideas, instead of a one-way street of ideas. The world would be much better if the westerners stop talking down to the rest of the world and began listening to the rest of the world. And you know on human rights issues, let me just mention a very important fact. I am a astonished that American intellectuals continue to pass judgment on the human rights standards of other countries, when the rest of the world looks at America and says “hey! the two great leaps forward in human rights was, number one, the abolishing of slavery.” Today fortunately none of us believe is going to come back again and the second thing was the abolishing of torture. and everyone thought that torture was history, it is going to be history. Guess what? The world’s greatest defender of human rights reintroduces torture and Amnesty International says that Guantanamo is the gulag of our times. Now, if Guantanamo is the gulag of our times, how can the State Department issue reports on the human rights situation of other countries without saying upfront “we are the United States, we believe in the practice of torture, this what a human rights stands for. Now, we tell you what your standards are." Now, there is absolutely no intellectual honesty in these kinds of areas, and the rest of the world is becoming much more intelligent. It can see through these double standards a thousand miles away and so you have this bizarre situation, where the western intellectuals assume the world hasn’t changed, continue to talk down to the rest of the world and having no impact.
Recorded on: 2/28/08