- Invites for authoritarians turn Democracy Summit into “bad joke”, says academic
- ‘Inclusion’ is on the schedule but most Asians, Africans, and Middle easterners are excluded
- US decides who’s in and who’s out in stunning example of White Privilege
THE UNITED STATES has literally NO sessions to discuss types of democracy listed on the schedule for the Summit for Democracy, and has instead packed the schedule with “woke” topics.
The conference’s main focus, with 30-plus sessions, is “human rights”, and includes panels on LGBTQI issues, women’s rights and “inclusion”.
While US President Joe Biden will preside over leaders’ sessions on Thursday and Friday (December 9 and 10, 2021), the wider conference has already started.
But there are already huge problems that led to at least one academic to refer to it as a “bad joke”.
As many have noticed, the meeting purports to stand for inclusion, but comes across as an unfortunate example of white privilege, with the United States alone deciding which communities may attend.
Then there’s race. Sessions call for worldwide equality, yet the summit doors are wide open for white anglophone nations and their political allies, while most African, most ASEAN and most Middle Eastern countries are barred from attendance.
WOMEN IN POWER? NOPE
A session on Wednesday deals with “Women’s Participation” but the meeting pointedly excludes countries which led the way in enabling women to participate in democratic power.
The United States has never had a female leader. The world’s first democratically elected female prime minister was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka—a country barred from the meeting without explanation.
The same can be said for Turkey, Thailand, Nicaragua and Uganda – all have had female prime ministers, all have forms of democratic elections, and all have been excluded from the conference.
Worse still, Biden’s “in crowd” includes many participants that even the Western media have been decrying as authoritarian for months or years. “How Long Will Joe Biden Pretend Narendra Modi’s India Is a Democratic Ally?” asked Time magazine back in February of this year – yet India is invited.
More shocking still, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was ranked by the Economist as one of the most extreme cases of case of authoritarianism in the world – yet there it is, on the guests list at the door.
- IN is Zambia, which scores low on rankings which measure adherence to Western liberal democratic traditions.
- OUT is Singapore, although it has very Western-style elections.
- IN is Serbia, a non-EU member with a low score on democracy rankings.
- OUT is Hungary, a full EU member with regular EU-style elections.
- IN is the Philippines, whose leader Rodrigo Duterte has said he doesn’t care about human rights and has claimed to have shot people himself.
The summit “seems like a bad joke”, said Tarik Cyril Amar, a historian at Koç University in Istanbul.
None of this will surprise people who read widely. Political scientists have long recognized that US initiatives labelled as promoting democracy around the world are really about bolstering US interests.
Academic Thomas Carothers was quoted on the front page of the New York Times last week saying that America’s constant messaging that its activities around the world were designed to spread democracy “was never really true”.
The schedule as published (which omits details for Thursday and Friday sessions) leaves an unavoidable question:
Why would Biden’s administration NOT want to discuss varieties of democracy in a summit for democracy?
First, the model of democracy favored by the U.S. often functions poorly, producing populist leaders and angry, polarized communities. “How can the United States spread democracy or act as an example for others if it barely has a functioning democracy at home?” said Emma Ashford of the Atlantic Council in Foreign Policy journal earlier this year.
James Goldgeier, professor of international relations at American University, said that Biden should be holding a democracy summit—but doing it “at home”.
EXPLOSIVE TRUTH HIDDEN
The second reason for avoid substantive discussions on varieties of democracy is to hide the explosive truth: different models of democracy are doing a better job of feeding the poor and creating liveable cities for their populations at a faster rate.
“Democracy is not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries, but a universal right of all peoples,” said U.S.-based ambassadors Anatoly Anonov and Qin Gang in a joint statement published in National Interest, an online political journal. “It can be realized in multiple ways, and no model can fit all countries.”
President Biden may want to deny that, but multiple surveys show that the people of the world are increasingly aware of it.
THE LOUD AND QUIET
Peoples of Asia and Africa can take comfort in a hidden fact. “More than 100 countries invited” makes it sound like much of the world is assembling under the U.S’s wing. But about 30 of the invited groups are tiny, with populations fewer than one million. Nauru has just 10,000 residents, noted commentator Jerry Grey at the weekend.
In contrast, Africans and Asians add up to three out of four members of planet Earth’s humanity as a whole.
The loud, hostile voices of the West may be hogging the spotlight, but the views of the majority of people will one day take their rightful place on the world stage.
Now that’s democracy.
ALSO PUBLISHED TODAY: Democracy summit’s dark message: pick a side. Phill Hynes notes that there are clear objectives revealed by the invitation list, including the blacklisting of key participants in China’s Belt and Road Initiative
NOW READ THIS: Strategists admit US is goading China into war
Image at the top by mediamodifier/ Unsplash