US President Joe Biden’s so-called ‘Summit for Democracy', which convenes on Thursday and Friday, while eliciting halfhearted response from world leaders, is being slammed for its ill-conceived idea.
The virtual event, focused on “renewing democracy in the United States and around the world”, disregards the fact that the US model has been a source of radicalism and lawlessness across the world.
It also overlooks the fact that the world’s so-called “largest democracy” has turned into a bedlam, with minority groups fearing for their life and politicians indulging in brazenly racist politics.
Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University, writing in the Foreign Policy magazine said the summit could backfire.
"The United States is not in the best position to lead this effort right now. The Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the United States to the category of “flawed democracy” before former U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, and nothing has happened to reverse that status." he wrote.
"On the contrary: One of the United States’ two major political parties still refuses to accept that the 2020 presidential election was legitimate and is working overtime to erode democratic norms and rig future elections in its favor. Some Republicans are even whitewashing the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, treating it as little more than a prank by some overzealous patriots. That’s hardly the right look if you’re trying to lead a democratic revival."
In an article in Politico, university professors James Goldgeie and Bruce Jentleson wrote that the summit risks becoming a “self-inflicted wound” for the Biden administration, while urging the US president to use the summit “to launch a major initiative for repairing American democracy”.
In another article published in New Yorker, journalist and author Sue Halpern berated the Biden administration for floating the idea of a democracy summit, and not looking inwards.
“There is something deeply wishful about hosting a summit to bolster democracy around the world when our own is, at best, floundering,” she wrote, while referring to a recent NPR poll that found just 33 percent Republicans think that the 2024 elections will be fair.
In a powerful op-ed essay, the Russian and Chinese envoys in Washington denounced the United States for having no authority or moral high ground to pass judgments on other countries.
“What China has is an extensive, whole-process socialist democracy,” China’s ambassador, Qin Gang, and Russia’s ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, wrote in The National Interest.
“It reflects the people’s will, suits the country’s realities, and enjoys strong support from the people.”
The list of invitees is noteworthy, pointing to the direction the US foreign policy is taking as well as Washington’s strategic interests. While countries like India and Taiwan are invited, Russia, China and Bangladesh have been snubbed.
Damon Linker writing in The Week last month said the rising tensions between the US and China are not primarily because the former is a democracy and the latter is authoritarian.
“It's because America is a global hegemon that projects power into China's near abroad, and China is a rapidly rising power seeking to expand its influence across East Asia. That places the two countries on a collision course, and whether they'll prove able to avoid armed conflict will have very little to do either country's form of government, he asserted.
Frances Z. Brown, Thomas Carothers, and Alex Pascal, writing in the Foreign Affairs, referred to the deadly insurrection on January 6 when far-right extremists, incited by then US President Donald Trump, stormed the US Capitol, to raise questions over the summit.
“It raises hard questions about Biden’s widely publicized plan to host a “Summit for Democracy” during his first year in office,” they wrote.
In an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, columnist Trudy Rubin asserted that there are “many reasons to question the summit’s usefulness.”
“In a right-wing bubble, where Fox News hosts praise the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, where Donald Trump still campaigns on the Big Lie of a stolen election, and where the GOP tries to ensure minority rule by legal manipulation, truth is turned on its head,” he wrote.
“Hopefully, the summit will clarify how America’s image as the (flawed) bastion of global democracy has been tarnished by the GOP’s war on democratic principles.”
Rubin referred to a November Pew Research poll that says few people in other developed nations — or in the United States — now view American democracy as a good example for other countries to follow.
Social media has also been critical of the upcoming summit and its stated objectives. Journalist Ben Norton in a tweet called the so-called "Summit for Democracy" a “joke”.
“It invited the far-right authoritarian regimes in Colombia, India, and Brazil, but did not invite Bolivia. And coup puppet Juan Guaidó - who has never received a single vote to be fake "president" - is representing Venezuela,” he wrote.
The US so-called "Summit for Democracy" is such a joke— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 30, 2021
It invited the far-right authoritarian regimes in Colombia, India, and Brazil, but did not invite Bolivia
And coup puppet Juan Guaidó - who has never received a single vote to be fake "president" - is representing Venezuela https://t.co/vQtGRFzPVi
Hong Kong based writer Nury Vittachi said the summit demonstrates how white supremacists like to preach democracy to others, and how it reveals the dirty underbelly of racial inequality in the US.
“The #Summitfordemocracy is not discussing types of democracy! Instead, there's much talk of "inclusion" while the organizers exercise their white privilege to ensure the exclusion of real democracies. You can't make this stuff up,” he wrote.
The #Summitfordemocracy is not discussing types of democracy! Instead, there's much talk of "inclusion" while the organizers exercise their white privilege to ensure the exclusion of real democracies. You can't make this stuff up! pic.twitter.com/dqFyc4IPk4— Nury Vittachi (@NuryVittachi) December 6, 2021
University professor and commentator, Ashok Swain, questioned the Biden administration’s choice of invitees at the summit.
“For his Democracy Summit, Biden has invited 111 countries. Freedom House says there are 82 countries in the world that are democratic & 59 more are partly democratic. So, what has made Biden decide to invite these 111 countries? Their democracy or Biden's Cold War-era politics,” he noted.
For his Democracy Summit, Biden has invited 111 countries. Freedom House says there are 82 countries in the world that are democratic & 59 more are partly democratic. So, what has made Biden decide to invite these 111 countries? Their democracy or Biden's Cold War-era politics?— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) December 7, 2021
Meanwhile, in a significant rebuke to the White House, Pakistan on Wednesday decided not to attend the summit. In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign office said they will discuss it at an “opportune time”.