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Biden's ‘Summit’ is an insult to democracy

With the Summit for Democracy, the US President reverts to cold war rhetoric and bloc building — whoever thought that world peace would be better served with Biden than with Trump might be disappointed, writes MARC VANDEPITTE

ON DECEMBER 9 and 10, Joe Biden organised a virtual “summit for democracy.” Representatives of 110 countries were invited to this summit. Among them were many Western heads of government.

The purpose is, so to speak, promoting “democracy” and “universal human rights” around the world. But if you zoom in on some of the invited countries, you will quickly see that a completely different agenda is at play here.

 

Strange democracies

 

Colombia is the second most dangerous country in the world for defenders of human rights or the environment. In 2020, more than 250 indigenous leaders, rights activists, environmentalists or former Farc members were assassinated. In the first half of this year, that number already exceeded 350. In street protests that began in April 2021, at least 44 people have been killed and another 500 “disappeared.”

Another country invited is India, the so-called “largest democracy in the world.” Some 29 per cent of parliamentarians have been indicted for crimes or offences serious enough to merit five years in prison. Camps have been built in the north of the country to intern two million illegal immigrants. By the way, you may have to wonder why you haven't heard about that yet — the contrast with the coverage of the Uyghurs in China is quite striking.

Human rights organisations are facing more and more opposition in India. That is why Amnesty International left the country last year.

And what about Brazil? Jair Bolsonaro, the country's president, is a fan of Chilean dictator Pinochet, who “did what had to be done.” It does not bother Bolsonaro that 3,000 political opponents were killed and tens of thousands were tortured. His government includes more than 100 active or retired military personnel, including several ministers and a vice-president. When his position was threatened in 2020, Bolsonaro raised the prospect of military intervention.

His culture minister had to resign because he had quoted Goebbels. More than 60,000 Brazilians are killed by firearms every year. “A cop who doesn’t kill is not a cop,” the president said.

 

No authority

 

We could also refer to the Philippines, Israel, Poland, Georgia, etc. — or to the US itself. The US is the largest arms supplier to a whole series of brutal dictatorships. In Guantanamo, it has kept a concentration camp open for nearly 20 years, where 780 people have been detained and tortured without trial so far.

Almost a year ago a mob stormed the parliament building on Capitol Hill, yet there is a substantial chance that the instigator of this failed raid will be president again within three years.

US attempts to install democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Libya have turned into humanitarian catastrophes. In any case, Washington has no authority to give lessons on democracy or human rights.

 

New Cold War?

 

This summit is clearly not about democracy. It is about power and about bloc formation. After the second world war, the US strived for absolute dominance. “Preponderant power must be the objective of US policy,” it said in 1952 — this has been the official doctrine ever since.

For the US, the issue is not whether the country or world peace is under threat, it is about being able to impose its will on others. Due to China’s rapid economic and technological development, the US is now in danger of losing its supremacy. Biden wants to avoid that at all costs.

To continue to impose this unipolar world led by the US, the White House needs more and more support from other countries. That is why it is trying to form a bloc. The countries invited to the summit are not chosen because of their democratic credentials but because of their obedience to the US.

Bloc formation was characteristic of the cold war, as was the rhetoric of “human rights” and “democracy.” Precisely at a time when the world needs unity and a joint approach to the climate crisis or to combat a pandemic, Biden is pushing for bloc formation.

Instead of uniting the world, he is pushing for division, for a new cold war. It is up to us to unmask this and not to allow ourselves and our countries to be dragged into it.

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