Thursday, January 27

The ‘democracy summit’ kicks off, with more than 100 world leaders in a virtual meeting launched by Biden


Demonstrating that “democracy still works” may be Biden’s argument at a summit that is uncertain whether to end in something tangible

US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden.ED ZURGAEFE
  • Asia China reinterprets the concept of democracy

Twenty-four hours after the Republican candidate for Governor of the State of Georgia, David Perdue, announce that, had he held that position, he would not have recognized the results in that territory of the 2020 elections, which won Joe Biden, United States celebrates the first ‘Summit of Democracy’.

With such an internal situation, one wonders if USA it can meet what Biden has called “the challenge of our time”: the decline of democracy worldwide. For two decades, the values ​​of liberal democracy have been on the retreat inside and outside the United States. And this virtual meeting, because of the Covid-19, attended by more than 100 heads of state and government from around the world, and several hundred personalities from civil society, try to lay the groundwork to reverse the trend. Is a unprecedented initiative, born with the vocation to continue each year. In fact, next year there will be a new ‘summit’, in which a series of working documents created by the countries attending this meeting will be analyzed. The great question is what will be the course of all this in practice.

Among the countries that have not been invited, the two biggest US competitors in the world stand out, China and Russia. But also a number of allies from Washington, What Hungra, Singapur, Singapur, y Arabia Saud. In exchange, governments such as Angola – which has been governed by the same party since it achieved independence from Portugal, 46 years ago – and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thus, realism collides with democracy. In all political freedom rankings in the world, Hungary is ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and conversely, how is the United States going to hold back? Irn without the support of Saudi Arabia, or China without that of Singapore, even though those countries are not democracies.

That is historically the great paradox of American foreign policy: how to defend democracy in a world in which many allied countries are not democratic. And Biden hasn’t broken up with her. The axis of its external action is slow down China’s expansion. Which raises, again, the same problem: democracy or realism? Because China never asks questions about human rights in the countries in which it invests.

So political and strategic reality is very different from ideological principles. Washington may say that it promotes democracy but, in practice, authoritarian models are widespread. And that touches in a special way its rivalry with China. “In terms of containing Chinese penetration in Amrica Latina, The United States does not exist, “the former vice president of Colombia and former ambassador of that country in Washington Francisco Santos, that today he explained in the podcast One Decision how, when he had already left politics, the Chinese authorities tried to get him to intercede with the government of Juan Manuel Santos for him to hand-deliver a contract to a Chinese company.

Soon after, Santos’s son, who is a congressman, had to cancel a trip to Taiwn – who is at the ‘summit for democracy’, which has not been to the liking of Pekn – due to pressure from China. These are all the policies that, in theory, go against the values ​​of the ‘top’. But, at the same time, they are part of a strategy that that country, which is the largest dictatorship in the world, first began in practice during the presidency of Mexico. George W. Bush, two decades ago, and against which the US has done very little to date.

Show that “democracy still works”

The summit lasts two days, during which the Heads of State and Government, representing more than half of the world’s countries, will hold a series of closed-door meetings on a series of topics, among which the recovery stands out. of democracy and institutions after Covid-19, the fight against corruption, the defense of human rights -including, notably, freedom of expression-, and digitization and its impact on democratic societies will be the main topics of the summit, although, in the end, the key is summarized in what Biden said in his only speech before the US Congress, on April 28: “We have to show that democracy still works, that our Government works and that we can attend to the needs of the citizens. “

It is, thus, an initiative very much in line with others launched by Biden, such as the alliance with Australia and Great Britain dubbed Aukus, the revitalization of the Quad, of which they are also part India, Japan, and Australia, the Council of Commerce and Technology created at the ‘summit’ with the EU of Pittsburgh in September, or the October cybersecurity ‘summit’. The problem is that the Aukus, the Quad, and the Council of Commerce and Technology have very clear objectives. But the ‘summit’ for democracy, no.

That has led some skeptics to question its existence. As you have written in Foreign Policy Stephen Walt, Professor at Harvard and, in general, supporter of ‘realism’, a theory that maintains that, in the world arena, countries must maximize their strategic advantages motivated only by the reason of state, the summit “illustrates two recurring problems in the foreign policy of states United: the inability to set clear priorities, and the tendency to proclaim noble objectives that later is not able to achieve “.

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