How Biden's Summit for Democracy Causes a Cold War-Style Two-Camp Polarisation of the World
19:12 GMT 26.11.2021 (Updated: 11:51 GMT 26.10.2022)
Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy is likely to polarise the world and particularly deepen the rift between the US on the one side and Russia and China on the other, say international observers, suggesting that an inclusive summit of world leaders would help tackle emerging global challenges and threats.
President Joe Biden is due to virtually convene his first Summit for Democracy on 9-10 December 2021. The White House has recently revealed that it invited over 100 participants from across the world.
77 invitees rank as "free" or fully democratic countries, 31 countries are "partly free", and three are "not free", according to Freedom House, a Washington, DC government funded non-profit established in 1941. The agenda of the summit is to defend the world against authoritarianism, fight corruption, and promote human rights.
The Biden administration's choice of participants has prompted certain controversy, according to ABC News. For instance, the US president snubbed China while inviting Taiwan, which is considered by Beijing as the country's unalienable territory. While asking Central and Eastern European countries to participate in the virtual venue, Biden has not invited Hungary. Russia also has not received an invitation from Washington.
24 November 2021, 06:49 GMT
Why US Needs Its Own Democracy Summit
"That the United States is holding this at a time when democracy is barely hanging on by a thread makes no sense at all", says Peter Kuznick, professor of history at the American University and co-author of the "Untold history of the United States". "The United States needs its own democracy summit in order to figure out how to maintain democracy in this country. And we have a situation here where you've got the minority ruling".
The idea of the democracy summit seems absurd given that the US already "turned into a plutocracy" and a country where democracy "almost just died in", the academic believes. The system is deeply flawed being influenced by various lobbies and special interests groups, according to him.
"We've got a system where people work for the government for a while", the professor notes. "They do oversight in certain areas like defense spending when they leave government and go to work for defense contractors and make a fortune, make a lot of money. We unfortunately don't have a functioning democracy, and it's going the wrong direction, not the right direction".
World Desperately Needs Whistleblowers as Big Media, Big Tech Curbing Free Speech, Ex-UN Expert Says
2 November 2021, 16:48 GMT
Even the thing that the United States prides itself on like freedom of the press is triggering skepticism, according to the professor. Nominally, one can write what one wants in the US, but critics of the American system almost never get on mainstream media, he highlights.
"So there is freedom of the press, but that doesn't mean you have freedom of access to the media", Kuznick says. "The media is very limited in terms of whose views they consider legitimate".
If the upcoming summit is critical of weaknesses in the present system of liberal governance, including that of the US, and discusses ways to reform and deepen democratic practices in general throughout all levels of society, at the global, regional and local levels, it could prove meaningful, according to Hall Gardner, professor of International Politics at the American University of Paris.
"If the conference is used merely to extoll the present form of American democratic liberalism, it will prove to be an exercise in propaganda", Gardner emphasises.
US 'Summit for Democracy' Breeds Division, Draws Ideological Lines, Chinese Foreign Minister Says
25 November 2021, 07:42 GMT
Biden's List: US President Polarises the World
Biden's selective approach to the participants list may be driven by a plan "to form a bloc of nations considered democracies to become a coalition" to push ahead with further global reforms, suggests David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University.
In this light, the notable absence of Russia in the list might be "a combination of shame and effort to say that if Russia wishes to be part of the 'club' and be respected, it needs to follow 'democratic rules'", he believes.
White House's decision not to invite Russia "sends the wrong message" to Moscow and the rest of the world, while poking China over Taiwan appears to be nothing short of an unnecessary provocation, according to Kuznick.
"I think that the point of this summit is to widen the gap between the United States, Russia and China, and to further exclude [Moscow and Beijing]" the professor says. "The Pentagon has said that China is the pacing threat to the United States. Russia is the second threat. But the United States is using that as an excuse to increase America's military spending, which is more than the next seven countries combined already".
Yalta 2.0? Why US Military Analysts Urge Biden to Avoid Standoff With Russia, China at All Costs
20 October 2021, 13:00 GMT
The US is continuing to adhere to the Cold War-era approach which divides the world into competing camps, according to the academic. Initially, the political bipolarity was based on juxtaposing capitalism to communism, now it is "democracy versus authoritarianism".
"What I see Biden doing is creating a new Cold War" Kuznick says. "And it's, I think, the exact wrong approach we need to be taking right now".
The professor presumes that following the Afghanistan debacle, Biden is under a lot of pressure from the Dems and the GOP to act tough to Moscow and Beijing: "The one thing they agree on is their hostility toward Russia and China", he remarks.
Biden administration's summit of democracies is further polarising the global system and "making it even more difficult to engage in diplomatic compromise between rival states in the quest for global peace and sustainable development", echoes Gardner.
18 November 2021, 21:33 GMT
Increasingly Unpopular Biden Needs a 'Win' of Some Sort
The timing of the summit deserves attention as it coincides with the American president's steady slide in polls and incapability of passing his signature initiatives in the US Congress, according to the observers.
"The Biden administration would certainly like a "win" of some sort to counter the negative news of late", says Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.
However, even if it does succeed, however that is defined, it probably won't make much difference in terms of his approval ratings, according to the political scientist.
"On one level, this isn't the kind of thing that most voters care about", Hagle notes. "That's especially true at a time when economic issues are what is giving Biden trouble. Another reason is that what Biden might count as a success might be seen by Republicans as a negative".
Kuznick also believes that the conference will help Biden gain more domestic popular support. However, it could potentially be a game changer, if the US president demonstrates real leadership and embraces an inclusive approach, according to the professor.
"What we need is a global summit that Putin has been calling for, for the world's leaders", argues Kuznick. "We should have Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Angela Markel and Narendra Modi. They should get together and we should be figuring out how to solve the world's problems from a planetary, global perspective. What we don't need now, in my opinion, is something that further divides the world into democracies versus autocracies when it's a meaningless concept".