Bait and Switch : Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy book cover
2nd Edition

Bait and Switch
Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy

ISBN 9780415964494
Published February 15, 2008 by Routledge
324 Pages

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Book Description

It has become routine for the US government to invoke human rights to justify its foreign policy decisions and military ventures. But this human rights talk has not been supported by a human rights walk. Policy makers consistently apply a double standard for human rights norms: one the rest of the world must observe, but which the US can safely ignore.

Based on extensive interviews with leading foreign policy makers, military officials, and human rights advocates, Mertus tells the story of how America's attempts to promote human rights abroad have, paradoxically, undermined those rights in other countries. The second edition brings the story up-to-date, including new sections on the second half of the Bush administration and the Iraq War, and updates on Afghanistan.

The first edition of Bait and Switch won the American Political Science Association's 2005 Best Book on Human Rights.

Table of Contents

1. All That Glitters  2. The Lingua Franca of Diplomacy: Human Rights and the Post–Cold War Presidencies  3. The New Military Humanism: Human Rights and the U.S. Military  4. Raising Expectations: Civil Society's Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy  5. Conclusion: Bait and Switch?

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Julie A. Mertus is a professor of human rights at American University and co-director of the Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs Program. She has been a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a fellow in human rights at Harvard Law School, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Fulbright Fellow and a Counsel to Human Rights Watch. She is the author of five books, including Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War.



"Mertus provides a stark indictment of the slippage between American rhetoric and American action on international human rights, showing how partisan selectivity and double standards pervaded American policy even before September 11. More generally, the book examines the ways in which international norms can get lost in the translation into domestic practice, challenging some comfortable orthodoxy about the depth and breadth of the spread of an international human rights culture."

-Jack Donnelly, author, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, and Andrew Mellon Professor, Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver

"Scholars and practitioners seeking to understand the stark differences between the pious rhetoric and prosaic reality of U.S. human rights policy need look no further than this insightful and readable volume by Julie Mertus. As the changes and ramifications of U.S. foreign policy are subjected to scrutiny in both the media and classroom, nothing could be more timely than this critical examination of not only the executive branch and the military but NGOs as well."

--Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, The CUNY Graduate Center

"Mertus argues that ‘something is seriously awry with the way the U.S. "does" human rights.’ Coming from a scholar who expected to come to a much more positive conclusion regarding U.S. human rights policy, this is a serious indictment. Bait and Switch is an important book that should be read by anyone interested in the growing gulf between how the United States sees itself and how other nations and peoples see it."

--Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"Mertus's indictment of U.S. human rights behavior is more devastating in this updated text. An 'arch' unilateralist executive, the breakdown in military command, and competitive civil society have led to intense hatred of the U.S. and contributed to greater insecurity. A stunning assessment of human rights behavior during the Global War on Terrorism."

--Karen A. Mingst, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky