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The implications of a "post-shame era" in U.S. foreign policy extend far beyond the country's borders. People worldwide associate such shame with the entire nation.

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House Ethics Committee on Thursday launched an investigation against Congressman George Santos, who has been found to have fabricated major elements of his life story and even lied about his mother's death in the 9/11 attacks.

Not known for aggressively pursuing inquiries, the committee has limited ability to punish lawmakers for wrongdoing. In February, Santos told CNN that he is "not concerned" about a House ethics probe. And despite his scandals, Republicans seem reluctant to push for Santos' immediate removal from office.

The National Public Radio (NPR) recently lamented that surviving scandals has become easier for politicians like Santos, as the United States has entered an era of "post-shame politics." But NPR is a bit slow on the uptake. For people outside the United States, the post-shame era began long ago, particularly in regards to U.S. foreign policy.

In his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington noted that the belief in American principles as universal and the U.S. mission to promote and defend these principles throughout the world has been a persistent and potent theme in American foreign policy. However, this theme has become intermittent and weaker as the United States pursues its interests with no sense of shame and a willingness to flout its own principles and values.

The "America First" policy embodies how times have changed. Championed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, the approach prioritizes U.S. interests over those of other countries. It disregards established international norms, which many have criticized as selfish and isolationist.

Sadly, the lack of shame in American foreign policy has persisted beyond Trump's presidency, as seen in continued U.S. drone strikes, the hasty Afghanistan withdrawal, the theft of Syria oil and its long-arm jurisdiction, to name just a few.

The U.S. military's drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen, among other countries, have been controversial due to their often deadly impact on innocent civilians. Despite the U.S. government's claims to uphold human rights and the rule of law, the drone strikes have resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of non-combatant deaths. Moreover, the legality of these strikes has been widely questioned, particularly as they were often carried out in countries where the United States was not officially at war and was without the consent of those nations.

Since 2001, the U.S. military has conducted several operations in the name of fighting terrorism, resulting in the deaths of over 900,000 individuals, approximately 335,000 of them civilians. These horrific U.S. military campaigns have created 37 million refugees worldwide, with an estimated 48,000 civilians having died due to U.S. airstrikes over the past two decades.

A lack of shame was also evident during the abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan, ignoring the spirit of international cooperation and solidarity it had championed. Relying heavily on NATO partners during the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the U.S. government suddenly pulled out of the country without sufficient consultation with its allies, leaving them in a complex and precarious position, its allies complained.

The U.S. military's exploitation of Syrian oil resources is another prime example of how America lacks shame. Despite violating international law, the United States and its mercenaries have been accused of extracting an average of 66,000 barrels of oil per day from Syrian oil fields. Such acts of theft have damaged the United States' moral authority and undermined its credibility as a global superpower.

Its long-arm jurisdiction also exemplifies a sense of shamelessness. The United States typically enforces its laws on foreign individuals and entities outside its territory, disregarding the sovereignty of other nations. This behavior has been illustrated in cases involving French company Alstom and Chinese company Huawei. In both cases, the United States used its legal and economic prowess to bully others into submission and maintain dominance in key industries while containing rising competitors.

The implications of a "post-shame era" in U.S. foreign policy extend far beyond the country's borders. People worldwide associate such shame with the entire nation.

To rebuild its reputation, the United States must prioritize collaboration with other countries rather than continue to pursue unilateralism and hegemony. Only then can it play a more constructive and positive role in shaping a safer and more prosperous world.

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