Some Differences Between America and Germany

by Vince

are mapped out well by Gabor Rona. This seems to be the day of subjective material:

For one thing, the two countries have different visions of the purposes of the Geneva Conventions. In the European collective memory, war is as much a scourge on civilians as on combatants. For Americans, war happens elsewhere to US combatants, not to US civilians, the last major war fought on US soil having been a century and a half ago. In Europe, human rights and “humanitarian law” (as the laws of armed conflict are known there) are part of a broader school curriculum, as the Geneva Conventions require. In the US, the “laws of war” (as they are known there) are more exclusively the province of the military and you are lucky to find it taught in law school, let alone high school.

The two countries also differ greatly on enforcement of international human rights obligations. The main European human rights treaty, the European Convention on Human Rights, is enforced by an independent court. The main human rights treaty to which the US is a party, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has no enforcement mechanism applicable to the US. Meanwhile, American courts typically refuse to enforce the Geneva Conventions and human rights law.

It is astounding that we hold other countries to such a high standard but seem to fail miserably in some major areas (human rights to name a biggie).

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