Ah, so your conclusion is that American exceptionalism, at least as James defines it, is not a valid position to take?
Is it acceptable for the USA to hold other nations to standards which the USA is not held to?
I don't see it as the cause for our refusal to accept certain UN treaties.
I don't think the majority of standards are exempt, it is that the UN treaties seek to address problems such as human rights issues, and there are many ways to address certain problems. In the USA we tend to address things like child labor in ways that seem right to us, but may not fit another country. Another country may not outlaw child labor because the families need as many workers as possible to survive but seek to create laws to make it safer, to keep the hours reasonable, to allow for education, and to insist the employers provide necessities that their particular situation would gain greatly from having but which would be ridiculous in our situation where we've already long since eliminated children working in factories. A single UN treaty fails to recognize the differences of situation.
Here, banning the television from our home where there are radios and computers with access for the while family, is no hardship and unlikely to limit a child's access to the outside world. In some places perhaps the TV is the ONLY access to the outside world, so while the UN Treaty that requires all children have access to television, it would be an unreasonable invasion of homes here, where children are inundated by technology, and unfair to countries where the requirement would be hardship when food is harder to come by! So that makes me dislike the idea that an international bureaucracy can manage to find solutions that fit everywhere-- it is a serious violation of the Catholic teaching on subsidiarity.
Which is ANOTHER reason why a country like the USA might refuse to ratify a treaty. Subsidiarity is a valid reason to refuse to allow a higher level governmental entity to usurp that which is better handled at a more local level.
I know better how to guide my child's education than the school system. I may use their services but I am the first teacher and the one whose responsibility it is to see to it my child is educated properly. I think a local school is better able to ascertain the needs of the locality than the state, and the federal government has no business in education at all.
Insisting on subsidiarity will increase liberty everywhere by limiting power grabs by higher ups that have no business trying to micro-manage that which rightly belongs at a local level.
I see many of the UN treaties as violations of subsidiarity. I also see them an unneeded in many places where the local laws have long since solved problems of child labor/near slavery.
Anyway, that is my take on it.