Biden’s ‘Summit for Democracy’ an arrogant display of American exceptionalism

On the 9th and 10th of December, US President Joe Biden held a virtual “summit for democracy”, which was sold on the themes of “defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights”. However, even before it had begun, this summit showed itself to be nothing more than a farce.

One has only to look at who was invited, and who was not, to find the the true intent of Biden’s summit. The People’s Republic of China received no invite, but officials from the Taiwan region did. Juan Guaido, a US-backed politician who claims they are the “true” Venezuelan President, was welcomed, as was leader of the Belarusian opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

By inviting a member of a country’s opposition, but not of their elected government, the US appears rather uninterested in democracy. Instead, this summit has served as an attempt to split the world into two categories: “democratic” and “authoritarian”. These two labels have little to do with the actual democratic character of a nation, but instead whether the country is aligned with US interests (“democratic”) or opposed to them (“authoritarian”).

Through this summit, the US has shown that they will continue on their path of rejecting multilateralism. Instead of discussing issues of democracy and human rights on the platform of the United Nations, for instance, Biden sought instead for such discussions on a US-led platform. This is nothing but an arrogant display from a nation with no right to lecture the world on democracy.

The US, as with all liberal democracies, is not a democracy for all in society but only the bourgeoisie. Money dominates politics, especially in the United States, with total spending across the 2020 general election reaching $14 billion. The majority of such money goes to candidates who best serve the interests of capital. Therefore, with the majority of politicians representing the bourgeoisie, the majority of US citizens have no real access to democratic processes.

The framing of the US as a role model for democracy is laughable to most, in the US and globally. A Pew Research study found that across the imperial core, from Britain to Germany, Australia to Japan, just 17% outside the US believe it is a model for democracy. Even within the US, only 19% of citizens believe so much.

Adressing his summit, Joe Biden argued “In the face of sustained and alarming challenges to democracy, universal human rights, and all around the world, democracy needs champions.” Yet, perhaps the greatest challenge to democracy globally is the US state itself. It was the CIA who deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz in 1954, and saw Salvador Allende murdered in the 1973 Chilean coup d’état. It was the US and their NATO allies who invaded Lebanon and destroyed the progress made under Muammar Gaddafi. For the US state, a democracy lasts until it elects a socialist, or any anti-imperialist. Then it becomes an “authoritarian regime”, one which the United States is more than happy to destroy.

Joe Biden followed the summit up with a new lot of sanctions, imposed on China, Myanmar, and North Korea. The Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime was added to list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies”. The justification by the United States is that the company’s facial recognition tecnology is being used to target Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region, a claim that has not been proven. As for North Korea, the US has blacklisted the Central Public Prosecutors Office, and Minister of People’s Armed Forces, Ri Yong Gil.

The US believes it has the right to unilaterally punish countries in this way, typically on grounds of supposed human rights abuses. Such a rejection of multilateralism dominated Biden’s summit. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian ministry of Foreign Affairs, said of the summit “This is exactly what we have been talking about for three years now: the United States is dismantling the system of international relations, which is based on international law and the central role of the UN, for the sake of creating its own comfort zone, which it intends to dominate single-handedly.”

Philip English, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

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