Why we should hesitate to use US policies as a model

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 June, 2003, 12:00am

In 'A case of double standards': America's stance on Article 23' (June 18), Michael Chugani raises a number of thought-provoking questions related to Martin Lee Chu-ming's appeal to the US to oppose Article 23.

The issue of whether America has the moral authority to impose its values and principles on other nations, and apparent double standards when compared with its handling of its own affairs, is a topical debate.

However, note that US policy is not necessarily representative of American opinion. The Patriot Act, which Mr Chugani compares with Article 23, has drawn tremendous bipartisan criticism from within the US itself.

In fact, policies initiated by this US administration have led directly to a political and social climate that arguably has never been more divided. Outside of the administration's ultra-conservative power base, Americans across the country are voicing their discontent at the widespread breakdown of social cohesion, the degradation of personal freedoms, and an increasingly unilateral government that is often at odds not only with the views of other nations but with its own people.

While terrorism continues to be a major concern, there is significant and growing domestic US opinion that is vehemently opposed to what is seen as unacceptable destruction of liberties in the name of safety.

Mr Lee is right to call upon the US to examine Article 23, as it remains the world seat of democratic and libertarian values despite the best efforts of its government.

But it would be wise to examine the effect that US policies have had on its society and ask whether these are consequences that we should desire for our own.