When foreign political regimes and dictators were discovered to be denying citizens their basic rights--like universal suffrage--American political leaders would take to their bully pulpits, condemning the culprits and demanding democratic reforms. It was called "political and social justice."
Think Tiananmen Square.
But, that was then and this is now, the era of "leading from behind." As President Obama told West Point cadets last year, the United States can't be the world's policeman.
This Friday, lawmakers are expected to vote down a Beijing-sanctioned plan that allows only pre-screened candidates to run for Hong Kong’s top office. For the vote to pass, two-thirds of Hong Kong's 70 legislative council members must approve it. However, 27 pro-democracy lawmakers have promised to reject it. The difference between failure and passing is just 3 votes.
Tensions are high. Police have already arrested 10 people and may detain more over an alleged plan to detonate explosives around Hong Kong when the legislative council convenes. Some activists believe the arrests are part of a conspiracy to smear the pro-democracy movement, according to Quo. It is expected that the police will dispatch 5k officers to surround the legislative chambers on the day of the vote.
So, it appears that democracy--at least in the form of open and free elections--is DOA in Hong Kong.
One pro-democracy student leader, Joshua Wong, is focused upon universal suffrage. But the real question, he says, is what happens in 2047 when the 50 years of "a high degree of autonomy" that Beijing promised Hong Kong is set to expire. Wong said:
We still need to fight for democracy and true universal suffrage. We
need to think about what is the final aim for the democracy movement.
If we fight for democracy it’s not only to fight for universal suffrage,
we also need to use the vote…to fight for the future of Hong kong after
In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of the United States was all that stood between the world and the return to the Dark Ages, Pope Pius XII said, "The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind."
"A shining city on the hill whose beacon light guide freedom-loving people everywhere" and "the last best hope of man on earth."
The silence from the nation's political leaders about the threat to democracy in Hong Kong is deafening. So is the silence about the torture and execution of Christians by Muslim extremists in the Middle East and Africa.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Lily Quo's article in Quartz.com, click on the following link: