Biden shouldn’t use Democracy Summit to start more cold wars
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, US President Joe Biden will host a virtual “”Summit for Democracy. “The gathering will bring together leaders from 110 countries who work in government, civil society and the private sector, with the formally stated purpose of developing an agenda to renew democratic government and keep the ideals of democracy strong. ( the guest list includes Pakistan, Ukraine, and Brazil.) As authoritarianism grows around the world, including in the United States, the administration says it is looking for convenient ideas and strong alliances against its spread.
But how to reconcile this resounding project with Biden’s mantra of “America is backAs he met just a few months ago the Group of Seven in Cornwall, NATO allies in Brussels and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva? Biden has received much praise for leading a return to normalcy after Donald Trump’s reign of error. The question is, however, what is normalcy, and “America is back” for what? Biden’s focus at European meetings has bolstered NATO allies for a new global showdown with Russia and, increasingly, China. Despite the existential threats posed by catastrophic climate change (which Biden and other world leaders have insufficiently addressed at COP26) And one ongoing global pandemic, Biden’s new normal seems ominously leaning towards a revival of Cold War politics.
“We are committed to the rules-based international order,” concludes the final press release NATO meetings in June, but “Russia’s aggressive actions pose a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.” China’s growing influence and international policies may present challenges that we must tackle together as an alliance ”. Much of NATO’s plan was to strengthen the alliance’s growing military capabilities on Russia’s borders, and NATO for the first time also designated China as a “systemic challenge”.
As the Democracy Summit meets, the old Cold War tropes are indeed being recycled. In a rare seal editorial article, the ambassadors of China and Russia in the United States describe the summit as “[a]n obvious product of his Cold War mentality, [which] will stir up ideological confrontation and a divide in the world, creating new “dividing lines”.
In the account of the United States described in the warning from the Chinese and Russian ambassadors, the world is divided between democratic and authoritarian nations. The United States has never stopped portraying them as repressive and rapacious, threatening their neighbors and working to disrupt an order based on presumably benign rules. China is the new “Pace challenge number one,” as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put it in March, with Russia relegated to second place. It is vital, the United States insists, that it and its NATO allies invest to maintain their superiority in all areas of warfare – land, air, sea, space and cyber – and in all regions. , from the borders of Russia to the Great China Sea. .
In a Washington shattered by bitter partisan divisions, the call to respond to the threat posed by China and Russia is forging a bipartisan consensus. Right-wing Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote in a February report titled “Beat china“That he sees the Asian country as the new Soviet Union:” Once again, America faces a powerful totalitarian adversary who seeks to dominate Eurasia and to remake the world order. As during the Cold War, with the USSR, the foreign threat allegedly posed by China is used to justify action at home. When it comes to invest among the American people, Republicans like Cotton see great government as evil and industrial policy as creeping socialism; in matters of foreign policy, they eagerly join the to call for updating “America’s long-term economic, industrial and technological efforts to reflect the growing threat posed by Communist China.” The same GOP senators who could not rallying to a Capitol sacking investigation to support research and development when touted as a response to threats posed by Chinese investment.
While dangerous, a Cold War clash between democracies and authoritarian states, anchored by China and Russia, is the establishment’s sweet spot. Powerful military-industrial security interests are growing in importance. the extremely swollen The Pentagon’s budget remains undisputed as it presumably braces for new deployments and a new array of weapons to counter China’s growing assertion. NATO is back on a relaunched mission. A bipartisan center can be re-established, with wrangling over tactics and spending anchored by a mission agreement.
The costs of returning to the Cold War, however, are immense. While Senator Bernie Sanders praises Biden in June for recognizing authoritarianism as a “major threat to democracy”, he wisely warned that “the main conflict takes place not between countries but within them. And if democracy is to prevail, it will not do so on a traditional battlefield, but by demonstrating that democracy can actually deliver a better quality of life to people than authoritarianism.
It also profoundly distorts the real security threats America faces. This summer, as the impacts of extreme weather have taken an ever-increasing toll on American lives and resources, it has become increasingly difficult to claim that climate change is only a distant threat. No progress can be made without China, which now rule the world in fossil fuel emissions and at COP26 promised to reduce them to net zero by 2060. The climate can no longer be relegated to a rhetorical declaration of concern at the end of documents focused on military reinforcements and great power conflicts in peripheral countries.
A new cold war will strengthen nationalist and militarist factions in all countries. More than a year after Trump left the presidential office and the social media platform from which he could amplify his lies about China and Covid-19, the alarmism he fueled keep on going contribute to an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States. This is just one of many aspects of how the deep divides within the country will make the revitalization of its democracy even more difficult.
Before America chooses to lead any kind of “Summit for Democracy” and before “America returns” to a new Cold War, the country urgently needs a more serious discussion of its realities. security priorities and the real challenges it faces.