US’ democracy summit a damp squib
Last week, the United states of America co-hosted the so-called Summit for Democracy with four other countries, Costa Rica, Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia, but the event showed – once again that US’ notion of democracy is warped and becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Much worse, the US is pushing a divisive agenda globally in the name of democracy, which makes it not just ironic for the US to be claiming to champion democracy, but also dangerously myopic.
According to the US State Department, the summit was meant to “prove democracy still works and can improve people’s lives in tangible ways…(and) provide an opportunity to reflect, listen, and learn, as well as to plan and act, so that we can build a shared foundation for global democratic renewal.”
The US reasons that the so-called democracies “have to come together — to rejuvenate and improve our open, rights-respecting societies from within; to stand together in defending against threats from autocracies; and to show we can address the most pressing crises of our time”.
However, the two-day summit proved that the US proved to be a damp squib.
To all intents and purposes, the US showed that it is part of the problems that the world faces today in terms of global politics, governance and security.
First, the US hand-picked participants resulting in a few countries participating across continents.
In Africa, only 21 countries participated, including co-hosts Zambia.
It should have been deeply embarrassing for Zambia to “co-host” the event while excluding some of its neighbours, including Zimbabwe.
By the way, it will be recalled that when the US hosted the US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2022, the host nation similarly excluded other leaders, including Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa.
It has just followed the same tack.
The US is clearly following a divisive template whereby it has friends on one side, and enemies on the other (what it calls autocracies – see above).
America doesn’t seem to realise that in a multipolar world, countries are equal and valuable members of the international community.
Instead, the US appears steeped in a Cold War and some kind of global Armageddon wherein it imagines it will emerge as the sole champion.
The just-ended meeting amplifies the negative trajectory.
US diplomacy not democracy
Influential publication, the Global Times saw the summit as a misnomer.
It said the summit was a meeting for diplomacy not democracy. It also noted the summit’s divisiveness and its attempt to shore up US support with client states’ support for its global power-mongering.
Further, the US made sure to undermine its rivals such as China and Russia.
“No matter how many fancy words the Biden administration has used to boost the summit, this event, like the first one held in 2021, has been used by the Biden administration as a tool to reaffirm the US’ leadership in so-called democracy and human rights,” commented the Global Times.
“Its ambition to pull more countries into its interest camp to contain its rivals, especially China and Russia, has been interwoven into the agenda of the event and is too obvious to hide…
“The summit of ‘democracy’ should be called the ‘Summit of Diplomacy as it is not held for democracy but for the US diplomatic needs.”
Analysts quoted by the Global Times said the criteria for invitation are not in accordance with democracy but out of the US strategic needs and that the US had continued to use the summit to tarnish the image of its rivals and to maintain its hegemony.
Global Times noted that the Summit for Democracy is in its nature meant to divide the world with ideology and to mark democracy in different ranks based on the US’ standards.
“Biden’s value-driven diplomacy to rally allies is nothing to do with democracy, but is instead an example of Cold War mentality…Since the first summit, the US has amplified its attempts to foist a trumped-up narrative of ‘democracy versus authoritarianism,’ which has impacted the world and incited confrontations”.
It is also important to note that US’ pursuit of its model “democracy” which it seeks to foist on the world as the best practice ignores the complex nature of countries of the world.
Each country has a right to pursue its unique path of politics, governance and even economic management.
The US’ model is not perfect, and should not be shoved down everyone’s throats.
Unfortunately, the US has used the so-called democracy to make enemies of countries that pursue other models.
Failures at democracy abroad, and at home
This summit highlights another key important point.
The US is not a paragon of democracy as a virtue.
While its actions at the international stage are antithetic to democracy among nations, against the spirit of multilateralism, at home America’s democracy is shaking.
Recently, China’s State Council Information Office issued its Report on Human Rights Violations in the US in 2022, which revealed that human rights legislation and justice in the US have seen an extreme retrogression, further undermining the basic rights and freedoms of the American people.
The report states that 2022 witnessed a landmark setback for US human rights with deep-seated problems such as money politics, racial discrimination, gun and police violence, and wealth polarization are rampant.
Some of the facts and statistics of these ills are sobering.
The US political system is deeply corrupt and manipulated.
Political donations from billionaires accounted for 15 percent of the federal total, up from 11 percent in the 2020 election cycle.
“Dark money” donations manipulate US elections furtively, and political polarization and social fragmentation make it difficult for the country to reach a democratic consensus.
According to the report, 69 percent of Americans believe their democracy is at “risk of collapse” and 86 percent of American voters say democracy faces “very serious threats”, clearly illustrating general public disillusionment of American-style democracy.
Racism is on the rise and ethnic minorities suffer widespread discrimination. Hate crimes based on racial bias in the United States increased dramatically between 2020 and 2022.
Substance abuse has become one of America’s most devastating public health crises.
Women have lost constitutional protections for abortion, and children’s living environment is worrying.
At the same time, US recorded nearly 70 percent increase in child labour violations since 2018, and registered a 26 percent increase in minors employed in hazardous occupations in fiscal year 2022.
The report notes that the US has further fallen into a quagmire of system failure, governance deficits, racial divide and social unrest in recent years under the interaction of its polarized economic distribution pattern, racial conflict dominated social pattern and capital interest groups controlled political pattern.
It explains: “American politicians, serving the interests of oligarchs, have gradually lost their subjective will and objective ability to respond to the basic demands of ordinary people and defend the basic rights of ordinary citizens, and failed to solve their own structural problems of human rights. Instead, they wantonly use human rights as a weapon to attack other countries, creating confrontation, division and chaos in the international community, and have thus become a spoiler and obstructor of global human rights development.”
With these damning facts about US failures in the practice of democracy at home and abroad, it becomes questionable that America could lecture anyone about democracy.
It is hardly qualified and it is clear that it is hiding behind the concept to further divide the world and pursue power politics, exclusion and domination.