Are you on the list? Biden’s democratic summit is causing anxiety and skepticism

How the Biden administration handles such issues could provide broader clues about its foreign policy plans, including which countries the new president will favor and which will be within reach.

– I’m very skeptical about that. I’m not sure who else wants to participate. – Of course, the British will be here. The Canadians turn around. But is it just a Western grouping then? Is Peru OK? They had elections, but they also announced their president every week.

An Arab diplomat questioned whether it was worth setting the standard of entry too high, especially when the world faces so many supranational challenges.

“Honestly, it depends on the agenda,” the diplomat said. “If Covid-19, technology or climate change is on the agenda, how effective will it be if it’s a small tent?”

Perhaps the most critical signal the rally will send is that under Biden, the U.S. will not shy away from defending democratic norms under attacks from competitors such as communist-led China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, some foreign policy analysts have argued. It will be a welcome change from Trump, who openly supported strong people, ”they added.

“The subtext is that illiberal forces have competed in a different direction, and the United States is bound to compete,” said Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute, which promotes democratic institutions abroad.

Biden’s aides refused to comment on the report’s records, but pointed to the president-elect’s spring essay, in which he outlined some aspects of the “Democracy Summit”. Biden wrote that the gathering “will bring together the democracies of the world to strengthen our democratic institutions, sincerely oppose the retreating nations, and forge a common agenda”.

The coronavirus epidemic could force organizers to virtually hold the summit, especially if Biden decides to hold it during his first year in office. However, some former U.S. officials have argued that Biden should postpone the gathering until it can be safely visited in person, making a greater impact on him.

No matter when it is held, two countries are almost certain to refuse entry: China and Russia.

Russia in particular is accused of trying to interfere in the U.S. election, provoking a particular contradiction from the Biden mass. But China, with its combination of economic power and political authoritarianism, is seen as a major long-term threat to the world’s democracies, and Beijing is likely to be the main topic of discussion at the Biden summit.

Daniel Twining, president of the International Republican Institute, urged the Biden team to invite Taiwan to the summit. The breakaway island, which China claims is its own, has a system of democratic governance.

Twining also called on Biden and his helpers to make sure the summit includes a discussion on discussing China and Russia on the cyber and technology front.

“For me, it feels like democracies have a lot more work to do about protecting data, protecting the information side of free and open societies,” said Twining, whose organization supports democracy overseas.

Spokesmen from the embassies of China, Turkey, Hungary and Poland did not respond to requests for comments. A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment on “hypothetical issues”. The Philippine embassy said in a statement that decisions on the summit were “prerogatives of U.S. foreign policy,” but “the Philippines will continue to flourish as an independent democracy”.

Biden called the event a “democratic summit,” not a “summit of democracies”. This linguistic distinction may give organizers some leeway in invitations: If your government says it is in favor of democracy, even if it is not very good, it may be on the list.

However, it is a risky approach. Many governments claim to be democratic, but they are not, and allowing them to appear can give legitimacy to their false claims.

An extreme example is North Korea. Its official name is “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” but it is ruled by a dictator and is probably the closest to a totalitarian state on Earth. Another example is the so-called Republic of Belarus, whose citizens have spent recent months protesting the ousting of Alexander Lukashenko as a dictator.

We can safely say that North Korea and Belarus will probably not be invited to the summit. But what about countries like Myanmar and Pakistan?

During the Obama administration, when Biden was Vice President, the United States lifted sanctions to help Myanmar (also called Burma) replace its military junta with a elected, civilian-led government. However, the Myanmar military continues to carry significant powers of power; it was also behind the 2017 massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

In Pakistan, political parties are fiercely involved in regular elections, but the military also has significant influence over the civilian government. Yet in congratulations beep Following Biden’s victory, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was looking ahead to the Democracy Summit and was therefore apparently awaiting an invitation.

David Kramer, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under George W. Bush, said Biden should not invite countries that are stepping back to democracy, such as Turkey, Hungary and Poland, but to those who are moving towards it. such as Sudan.

Biden needs to make it clear that “it doesn’t matter which direction your country is heading – it affects our relationship,” Kramer said.

India could prove the most complicated case, former U.S. officials and analysts said.

For decades, the vast, diverse country of South Asia has held elections, allowed a number of political opinions, and was generally considered a democratic success.

The United States attaches importance to its relations with India because it sees the country as a bulwark against China.

But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads a Hindu nationalist party, has spoken out against political opponents, the press and Indian Muslims in 2014 since taking power. As a result, political observers Attention that India’s democracy itself is in danger.

A spokesman for the Indian embassy declined to comment.

Biden’s summit is not the first time the United States or other actors have tried to unite the world’s democracies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson he squeezed a “D-10” group of 10 leading democracies coordinating against China. The D-10 idea preceded by Johnson, but has received some uplift in recent years as traditional fora such as the UN Security Council have come to a standstill due to disagreements between China, Russia and the United States.

In 2000, more than 100 countries signed the Declaration establishing a “Community of Democracies”. This group describes itself as a forum for learning from each other and working together to advance democratic priorities, including the United Nations.

But the Community of Democracies has been embroiled in its own bureaucratic struggles and has little influence, former U.S. officials and analysts say. Some note that the creation of the group was led by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Polish Foreign Minister Bronisław Geremek; today, however, Poland backwardness democratic dreams, while the U.S. had its own struggles in Trump’s day.

Defeating Biden Trump certainly caught the attention of the autocrats, whom Trump openly praised.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, whom Trump allegedly called his “favorite dictator,” rushed to congratulate Biden, signing the new Washington lobbyists to destroy his image, and even released some of Egypt’s thousands of political prisoners (although he arrested others).

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Turkish leader who has the depths of authoritarianism frustrated In the weeks since the U.S. election, Biden has promised to implement significant economic, legal and human rights reforms. Critics say his actions will matter more than his promises.

Proponents say Biden should be careful during the planned summit, during which he reinforces the ideals of democracy without speaking as if he were speaking.

After all, the Trump years have revealed the weaknesses of U.S. government institutions; Trump broke with American tradition when he refused to agree and is actively trying to overthrow Biden’s victory with government forces.

“I hope there will be an element of humility” at the summit, said Mitchell of the National Democratic Institute. “There is no perfect democracy. The United States is not a perfect democracy. Nobody.”