Ambassador George Bruno:
There is great ambiguity. On the one hand, the lines outside of US embassies testify to the large number of people who admire the US and the opportunities available and the freedoms Americans enjoy who wish to immigrate to and visit the US. On the other hand, it is becoming more challenging to explain the contradictions arising with respect to US behavior regarding torture, wiretapping Americans without a court order, suspending habeas corpus, incarcerating indefinitely citizens without civil trial or access to attorneys, choosing presidents by 5-4 decisions of the US Supreme Court, our disavowal of long standing treaties, having the largest prison population in the world, and our imposing the death penalty on minors and the disabled. These actions have all served to diminish US standing in the world and the rule of law in recent years.
Despite the enormous trade imbalance between China and the United States, the one thing that China imports is the study of American law, legal processes and reasoning. Chinese legal professionals in the public and private sectors frequently look to the United States as a significant reference for legal reforms in China. Many court systems, prosecutors’ offices, government agencies and universities have foreign affairs offices and research arms responsible for promoting international interaction. Chinese law students routinely write their theses on issues of Sino-American comparative law.
As exposure grows, national and local legislative drafting bodies include U.S. legal principles in Chinese laws. In some instances American law models are formally adopted, such as certain sections of Chinese contract law, property rights law and criminal procedure code. The judicial interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China frequently reference American law. [Taken from my article, "Dialog as the Rule of Law"]
Justice Joseph Nadeau:
America and Americans are perceived in many ways. We are admired and respected as individuals; for our opportunities, our openness, our accomplishments and our willingness to assist other people throughout the world. We are perceived as a nation by the actions of whatever administration governs in Washington, D.C. at the time. Currently our policy in Iraq, unpopular in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, has resulted in reduced admiration as a nation.
Many foreigners I've met judge our country on what they have seen on televsion, movies, or the Internet. They seem to think that the lives of ordinary Americans as more glamourous and violent than they are.
What has surprised me the most is how much of the world thinks that all Americans are wealthy. They get their impressions from TV and Movies. I once asked a group of folks from the former USSR to list who they thought were "typical Americans" They listed. Chuck Norris, Rambo, Tom Cruise.... (they also thoght most of the USA was like Calif. and Las Vegas)
The Europeans are in awe of our Bill of Right and the manner in which the Courts protect those rights, in particular the Fourth, Fifth and Six Amendments. On the other hand, they believe that our system of punishment is barbaric, that our jail sentences are extreme and overbearing, and that our use of the death penalty is antiquated and obscene.