[M]ost observers believe it will take many years to rebuild what America has lost in what President Eisenhower called "the decent respect of mankind." While respect is ephemeral, it is not trivial. Nations depend as much or more on what has been aptly termed their "soft power" as on their economic or military strength. The respect, one is tempted to say the "love," others have felt toward America has been traditionally one of the country's most valuable assets. Finally, as the scandal of the torture of prisoners, the flouting of international law, and attacks on American civil liberties have demonstrated, this war, like all violent conflicts, has eroded America's most prized attribute; a national character that has arisen from a belief in liberty, justice and decency.
I used to teach my kids that when you screw up, you have to do at least ten good
things to regain your reputation.