Why U.S’ Democracy Summit Will Not Deliver
With the U.S positioning itself as chair of “saints,” it even cherry picked who should get a seat at table during last week’s democracy summit, effectively turning it into summit of friends. Hungarian embassy in Washington branded U.S’ decision to cherry-pick attendees and locking out others “domestic politics and disrespectful,” a claim Biden administration officials refuted.
Arguably, no matter nice and diplomatic phrases summit organisers use(d), the summit was a cobweb of politics and U.S’ libido dominandi – the insatiable desire to dominate others under pretence of promoting democracy. This is the most probable considering that to date, there are millions of Americans who don’t believe president Biden was validly elected in what resulted into January 6th Capitol insurrection.
Now that democracy summit is done, one may ask: Should the world expect much? In my view, NO! Not that I know no the difference between democracy and authoritarian regimes. I know and of course, I even have a strong preference.
However, going by history, one can predict that president Biden’s democracy summit will instead bring more chaos in the world. Firstly, the summit will arguably guide U.S’ foreign policy. Though Biden administration is new, in U.S’ history, their foreign policy hardly significantly changes irrespective of which party occupies White House.
U.S’ foreign Policy has always been shaped by Washington’s urge to dominate the world. Broadly, most so-called democracies’ foreign policy is shaped by their imperialistic ideas and despite their lectures about democracy, their interventions in name of promoting the so-called democratic values has always largely ended creating anarchy, global insecurity and at times collapse of states as we saw in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and recently Afghanistan.
If critically analysed, one can also conclude that this summit started by dividing the world into two opposing camps; one the U.S demonized as being undemocratic and anti-free world and the one it claims to lead calling itself the side advocating for a “free” world.
It is already clear that president Biden’s democracy summit has started shaping U.S’ foreign policy with tones of confrontation. It is not a surprise that less than a week after the summit, G7 foreign ministers whose countries made it Biden’s summit list met in U.K’ city of Liverpool where they sent war tone messages to countries the U.S considers undemocratic with secretary Anthony Blinken warning Russia over what the U.S calls harassing Ukraine; “we are prepared to take the kind of steps we have refrained from taking in the past.” The question one may ask is if it is a coincidence that such threats are coming shortly after the summit which created the side of honourables and dishonourables! Is it also a coincidence that it is after this summit that both U.S and UK are sending “threatening” messages to Iran to agree to their new terms of the now shacky 2015 Iran Nukes deal the world negotiated and later abandoned by the U.S under Trump administration?
Secondly, it should be recalled that this is not the first time the U.S has championed this kind of summit. In 2000, the U.S started the so-called The Community of Democracies and indeed held a couple of conferences and going by their speeches, they were well intended as they talked about human rights. However, it later became clear that the U.S had special interests quite different from the rest which the U.S wanted to pass using their support. Indeed, just three years later, the world witnessed Iraq war which U.S and her cheerers in that group claimed wanted to save Iraqis from what they called a dictator, abuser of human rights and also save the world weapons of mass distraction which later came to be a hoax and instead caused untold suffering, destabilized the region and global peace that consequently led to birth of ISIL.
From the above, it is clear that the endgame of U.S’ democracy summits have nothing to do with creating a democratic world where human rights are respected, international norms observed or to ensure a peaceful world, not even are such summits meant to set a stage to create a world free of nuclear weapons. Aren’t the so-called bacons of democracy that are close to making Australia own nuclear weapons to be specific nuclear submarines under Washington and London supervision in their AUKUS pact? Does introduction of nukes to new countries sound like a pillar of democracy?
Away from that, political elites in the U.S consciously or otherwise confuse their own perceptions of their own country with perceptions that everyone else in the world has. They proud themselves as beacon of democracy in the world which rightly or otherwise is wrong. This is because, many people world over have quite different view of the U.S compared to what Americans themselves think of their country.
Put differently, the U.S lecturing others on the need to be democratic looks like they are confused and don’t know what is happening in their home. For example, on 8th December – just hours before democracy summit, U.S senate rejected a bipartisan bid in a 30-67 vote attempt to stop U.S from selling Saudi Arabia weapons worth over $650M despite U.S institutions alleging human rights violations in Saudi. Surely, do arms spit flowers?
While the summit ostensibly meant to champion rights of people including protecting rights of journalists was on, a court in London ruled in favour of U.S’ government request to have whistle-blower, Julian Assange extradited to the U.S to face charges of exposing U.S’ gross human rights abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S government provided diplomatic assurances to U.K in what Lords Burnett of Maldon, lord chief justice, and Lord Justice Holroyde of UK’s high court described as “solemn undertakings offered by one government to another,” while Amnesty International’s Europe director, Nils Muižnieks, decried court’s decision that “By allowing this appeal, the high court has chosen to accept the deeply flawed diplomatic assurances given by the US that Assange would not be held in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison.” If this is not enough evidence to tell us how skewed U.S and her allies’ democracy is, then probably nothing will.
Just wonder if it is Russia or China that had committed atrocities Assange reported to the world, no doubt Assange would have won Nobel Peace Prize and arguably, president Biden would have hanged his portrait as he addressed his democracy summit. But poor Assange having exposed double standards of ‘honourables,’ he will most likely die in prison. Crime? He told the world what democracy preachers did in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While quoting the civil rights activist, the late Congressman John Lewis, president Biden told those who attended his summit that: “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.” “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.” He was right! Democracy should not just mean elections which largely favour the rich. Talking about democracy without involving people it is simply an abstract concept the U.S is promoting. We should not only look at democracy in American political elites’ definition. We must breakdown democracy and involve people not just during elections but always. Democracy should mean respecting human rights in its entirety including Assange’s and Snowden’s of this world. It should mean helping people irrespective of colour to develop themselves and address their challenges such including ending absolute poverty. This is what China is doing. It is called whole process democracy.
Today, the world is confronting Covid-19 pandemic. It knows no one’s political affiliation, rich or poor. Strangely, despite shortages of vaccines to support global vaccination campaigns, “beacons” of democracy continue to press for protection of vaccines patents and pressing WHO from engaging Russia, Cuba and China’s vaccine candidates. Instead of addressing such, democracy preachers continue to insist on dominating the world no matter the consequences. In Iran, due to sanctions children continue to die of curable disease due to sanctions related to so-called Iran’s failure to adhere to some countries defined democratic values. In Cuba, we see protesters on streets not demanding for rights but protesting lack of food at a time when Havana is faced with challenges of money yet president Biden is continuing to impose sanctions even tougher than Trump’s to force Havana to bow for Washington. Therefore, these summits are not about democracy but global dominance.
Allawi Ssemanda is Executive Director Development Watch Centre; a Foreign Policy think tank.