The United States is hosting a virtual Summit for Democracy this week. As many as 110 countries and territories have been invited (currently 193 members of the United Nations). However, Washington did not want to see two (out of five) permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia and China – among the participants in this online conference scheduled for December 9-10. This is by no means an accident. The new initiative is part of the growing US efforts to strengthen its various alliances and alliances. And it is connected almost more with the geopolitical and economic considerations of the current American government headed by President Joe Biden, rather than with the desire to protect and modernize the institutions of democracy in the world.
And these considerations are very simple. If you express them without fuss on the basis of the doctrinal documents of the US administration, then we are talking, in fact, about containing all the forces of further economic and military growth of China and confronting Russia. Hence the feverish attempts to prevent the completion of the formation of a full-fledged multipolar system of international relations with centers of power equal or close to it, to expand the zones and spheres of NATO’s operational responsibility and to put together new military-political blocs under US control, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region (APR). There has already emerged recently this kind of trilateral alliance of America, Great Britain and Australia (AUKUS), in which, as recognized by the coordinator of the US National Security Council for the Pacific and Indian Oceans Kurt Campbell,
The United States, apparently, is not concerned with the fact that such a course leads in fact to a deepening split in the international community and is sometimes built on a desire to strengthen its positions at the expense of infringing on the vital interests and security of Russia and China.
“One of the most important competitions”
Speaking at a Reuters forum on December 3, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confirmed that Washington views the Summit for Democracy through the same prism of rivalry with Moscow and Beijing. In this regard, Blinken once again classified China and Russia as autocratic powers. “<…> This is how President Biden perceives it: looking at the world now, we see one of the most important competitions of our time <…> – between autocracies and democracies,” declared the Secretary of State.
At the same time, the chief of American diplomacy declined to answer the question of what the United States should do in the first place to strengthen its own model of democracy. “<…> One of the joys of my work is that I am not involved in internal politics,” Blinken joked.
Agenda and goals
Biden will have to open and close the summit, according to the plans announced by the American side. “The President will deliver opening and closing remarks [at the meeting] and will take part in plenary sessions,” said Jen Psaki, White House spokeswoman.
The agenda of the summit was outlined by the US Deputy Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya. In accordance with the information she provided, the meeting participants were asked to consider three main blocks of issues: “protection from authoritarianism”, “fight against corruption” and ensuring the observance of “human rights within [certain] countries and on an international scale.” As part of the summit, the United States is expected to announce the imposition of sanctions against individuals who, according to Washington, are involved in corruption, serious violations of human rights and the undermining of democracy.
The two-day meeting invited not only heads of state and government and other officials, but also representatives of civil society and the private sector – with the aim, as Zeya put it, to discuss a “common cause” in the form of support for “democratic renewal around the world.” Washington proceeds from the fact that the forum will allow leaders to announce new “significant commitments, reforms and initiatives,” the deputy secretary of state specified, without going into details. As she explained, the United States expects that “the summit will be followed by a period of consultation, coordination, action and results.”
They promise specifics…
As a representative of the US State Department told TASS, Washington is holding consultations with “national, regional and international civil society,” including to “formulate concrete commitments and tangible results of the summit.”
According to him, “President Biden has pledged to host the Summit for Democracy to strengthen the commitment to keeping democracy and human rights at the center of US foreign policy.” “This reflects President Biden’s strong belief that democracies must unite, learn together, stick together and act together to meet today’s most pressing challenges,” said a US foreign policy official.
“In addition, we expect that all participants in the summit, including governments and [other] foreign partners, will interact with relevant players in civil society in a meaningful way and in a spirit of cooperation,” the source said. The diplomat assured that the summit will become “a virtual platform giving organizations and representatives of civil society a favorable opportunity” to participate in the common work.
… and urge you not to wait for sensations
At the same time, the State Department official made it clear that the end of the forum will not be marked by any fateful decisions. “It is important to remember that the summit is intended to launch a year-long process, accompanied by discussions, [concrete] steps, interaction between states, organizations and the private sector. The most significant contributions to this process will take place [not at the summit, but] during this coming year of action, “the diplomat said.
Pushing the business community
From the perspective of this US foreign policy official, the conference will provide a chance for “meaningful engagement with the private sector to spur new investment and innovation that strengthens the world’s democracy.” “Promoting democracy on a global scale requires an approach that embraces the whole society – from large corporations to small start-ups, academic institutions and philanthropic organizations. In addition, the private sector plays a central role in promoting business ethics and moral principles,” the diplomat said.
In his opinion, the use of “technologies to suppress democracy and human rights movements” is “one of the main challenges to democratic renewal in the 21st century.” “We look to leaders across the private sector to help the global community fight the misuse of technology, and apply technology to advance de-mocratic progress and dev-elop measures to strengthen the cybersecurity of their nations as threats evolve [in this area],” the State Department official added.
A year later – “live”
The diplomat declined to respond directly to a request to inform whether the United States is going to attempt to institutionalize the Summit for Democracy. Under Secretary of State Zeya said earlier that “in about a year, if the sanitary-epidemiological situation allows,” Biden intends to invite the participants of the virtual meeting to a “face-to-face summit.” “After a year of action in which countries will work to deliver on their commitments, the President will host a face-to-face event at the [State] Leadership level to review [progress] and discuss next steps. We will strive to measure progress during 2022, including through monitoring of civil society, “- said the representative of the State Department.
To the accompaniment of criticism
Meanwhile, a significant part of the American expert community with caution or openly negatively perceived the whole idea of the Biden administration with the convening of the Summit for Democracy, which the Politico newspaper described as a “jumble of vague ideas.” Even some American non-governmental experts who traditionally support the US Democratic Party, now in power in Washington, questioned the idea of holding the forum. You can’t catch them in sympathy for Russia and China.
“China and Russia, which Biden also singles out for criticism, are not the main reasons for the weakening of democracies in the world,” senior researchers at the Carnegie Endowment Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolski, prominent retired American diplomats, wrote in a commentary published in The Washington Post…. Referring to the conclusions of Western analysts, they point out that “to a large extent this rollback <…> was caused by erosion within the democratic countries of the world themselves, including the United States and many” of its allies. “In fact, a number of countries preparing to take part in the summit, including India, Brazil, the Philippines and Poland, are demonstrating growing autocratic movements and encroachments on freedom of speech and press,” the authors of the article are convinced. As they warn the Biden administration, it would “
“Biden’s Summit for D-emocracy” was never a g-ood idea, “experts James G-oldgeier of American Uni-versity and Brookings Insti-tution and Bruce Gentleson of Duke University echo Miller and Sokolski from Politico in their own story.
In turn, Council on Foreign Relations researcher Joshua Kurlantzik predicts that the forum “is unlikely to have any lasting effect.” In addition, almost all experts point out that it is unlikely that Washington should, in the light of the events in the United States in recent years, teach others about democracy. In this regard, observers cite the findings of a public opinion poll conducted this year by the Pew Center in 17 countries, which showed that only 17% of respondents find the American model of the democratic model a good model for others. About 57% of the participants in this international sociological survey stated that in recent years it cannot be considered as such.
Nevertheless, for the time being, the United States continues to frantically cling to the almost gone Pax Americana and stick to the line of “democratization” abroad instead of looking for ways to build effective international cooperation aimed at solving the problems of our time, including the pandemic and the climate crisis…. However, Biden admitted in June during his first overseas tour that now “no single country alone can overcome the challenges” facing the international community. “<…> The world is changing,” the head of the American administration stated then.
Maybe because of this, Washington will someday understand that constructive interaction is better than dividing lines? After all, it was not for nothing that Churchill, as US politicians themselves like to say, noticed: you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried all the other options.