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Undemocratic Goals Of The Summit For Democracy – OpEd

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The US-sponsored virtual summit for democracy on December 9 and 10 was an unprecedented event; a show of American innocence and righteousness. The conference, which selectively and unjustifiably invited the leaders of 100 countries, supposedly was to focus on fighting corruption, defending human rights, and confronting authoritarian regimes. But the main target of the conference was first China and then Russia. Thirty percent of the leaders invited to the conference, according to the Freedom House, are either not free at all or have little freedom.

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The examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have shown that selective democratization of the world by force of arms through fighter jets and invasion is not achievable. Joe Biden must now realize that he can not democratize by media and propaganda either. The world cannot be divided into friend and foe because many countries do not really want to be part of a particular geopolitical bloc. There are countries in Africa and Asia that want to maintain their relative independence, establish a balance and neutrality among the great powers, and interact with each in accordance with their own culture and traditions. This feature is institutionalized in human nature and consequently in the identity of different societies; therefore,  everything else is itself against human rights and denies human nature and the identity of world societies.

The bizarre list of leaders invited to the democracy summit has taken Western democracies, especially Europeans, by surprise to the extent that they have repeatedly criticized and even ridiculed it. In this list, the so-called pro-democracy, obedient armies of the United States seem to want to line up against authoritarian regimes. Leaders like the infamous President Bolsonaro and Trump’s companion, Duterte, the ruthless dictator of the Philippines, authoritarian extremist nationalists like Indian Prime Minister Modi, or representatives of dark democracies like Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and the like. A country like Bangladesh, which has long developed a parliamentary democracy, is not considered a democracy due to its strategic and decisive proximity to China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Despite the fact that four million Americans are of Hungarian descent, Viktor Orbán, the President of Hungry, was not invited to the conference. However, the President of Poland, a close ally of the United States in Eastern Europe who has allowed the United States to use his country’s land to confront Russia, was invited to the conference. Poland is undermining the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press, despite repeated protests by the European Union.

The Chinese reaction to this unusual conference was so negative that, their media asserted that thirty years after the end of the Cold War the United States was looking for another Cold War and wanted to divide the world to “we” and “others.” Beijing believes that the goal of the conference was not to strengthen democracy, but to ensure US supremacy around the world.

Of course, the Chinese took the initiative two years ago, defining their own definition of democracy, and at the same time as the US held democracy summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping officially released a book entitled whole-process people’s democracy.

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This book is a planned and long-term effort by the Chinese to strengthen China’s soft power in the world and to challenge the declining standards and values of the United States. In this book the philosophy of the Chinese Communist Party on democracy is explained and the party is introduced as the direct representative of a government elected by the people. In this book, Western and American democracy is challenged in detail and the Chinese model of democracy is displayed: Beijing believes that “democracy is not a garment made to be forcefully dressed all countries and nations.” 

It is true that Western democracies are being seriously challenged by rivals and great powers such as China or Russia, but Western democracies are not right to face these challenges by attributing their decline to the conspiracies and pressures of others. It is actually a sign of weakness and passivity. The main crisis stems from inadequacies and inherent weaknesses of the Western world. Growing poverty, inflation, gap between rich and poor, social inequality, injustice, and the paralysis of public health care are the main causes of America’s problems, not the influence nor the intervention of Beijing or Moscow.

Of course, it has been for sometimes that the United States‘model for democracy is not viewed as viable in Europe and even by Americans. A case in point is Donald Trump‘s calling the presidential election fraudulent and illegal and forcing his fanatical armed supporters to attack the Capitol Hill in Washington.

This is not the only event that showcases all the dysfuncions of American democratic system. Nineteen of the 50 states in the United States recently introduced a legislation that would make the situaion more difficult for blacks and ethnic minorities in the near future. Such unprecedented attitudes have taken the West and liberal democracies by surprise and many have warned of extreme American nationalism and its return to its bloody past.

The crippling disintegration of American society and the increasing use of violence and crime indicate a decline in American belief in democracy. There is now a lot of criticism of democracy in the United States in political and media circles, even among the US allies. Many criticized the democracy summit and its goals, saying that the purpose of the conference was not to support and promote democracy, but to gather for a global coalition against China and Russia and Biden needs to attend to the broken democracy inside the United States first.

The core of President Biden’s new worldview is quite clear, and he openly wants to divide the ruling family of the world into two groups, two blocs, and two friend-enemy camps. Such erroneous worldviews of Washington, if intensified, will pose a great danger to the international community.

In the Western world today, especially in Europe, there is a growing intellectual reading that is against the American worldview. This reading emphasizes the necessity and obligation to pursue “real politics” in foreign relations and to oppose unilateralism in international relations. Real Politics does not walk in an ambiguous atmosphere, but sees the whole “present and future”. Real Politics not only does not consider its mission to be the realization of fantasies and ideals, but also seeks to achieve the right goals with practical results. Real politics is the enemy of American-style self-deception and exaggeration, and sees man as they really are. In today’s real world, democracies and autocracies must be able to work together to resolve the great crises facing humanity, rather than trying to eliminate each other or try to besiege or isolate disparate worlds. Solutions to climate change, pandemics, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, organized crime, as well as global poverty require more attention to real politics.

*Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco.

Greg Pence

Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco.

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