At the inaugural White House Summit for Democracy, President Joe Biden raised the alarm about the global decline of democratic institutions and urged leaders to “lock arms” and show that democracies can deliver.
President Biden said fellow leaders must redouble their efforts to bolster democracies. During his speech, he cites his own struggle to pass voting rights legislation at home and refers to challenges to America’s democratic traditions and institutions.
Biden opens the two-day virtual summit by saying, “This is an urgent matter.” Biden goes on to say, “The data we’re seeing points in the wrong direction.”
Biden has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. and like-minded allies need to show the world that democracies are far better vehicles for societies than autocracies.
It is one of the central principles of Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy outlook, which he pledges would be more outward-looking than his predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First” approach. According to Biden, he plans to spend up to $424 million for programming worldwide that supports independent media, anti-corruption efforts, and other things.
The gathering also drew criticism from the United States’ chief adversaries and other un invited nations.
Sumit Faces Internal Criticism
Ahead of the summit, Russian and Chinese ambassadors to the U.S. wrote a joint essay criticizing the Biden administration for displaying “Cold-War mentality”. They believe it will lead to “ideological confrontation” and rifts between nations. The administration has also faced criticism for how it chose which countries to invite. As a result, both China and Russia didn’t receive invitations.
As other leaders addressed the state of democracy. Many of them prerecorded – many of them discussed rapidly evolving technology’s impact on their nations. Furthermore, they lamented the growth of disinformation campaigns targeting institutions and elections.
Danese Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the democratic dialogue is changing. Large tech companies and new technologies are increasingly setting the stage for democratic dialogue. Sometimes they are placing more emphasis on reach than on freedom of speech.”
Biden is pressing Putin to stand down after a massive buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border. The growing concern in Washington and Europe is that Russia will attempt to invade Ukraine again. In a video call on Wednesday, He warned Putin of “severe consequences” if Russia invaded.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who attended Thursday’s summit, spoke with Biden later in the day. “No one can give Democracy, you have to earn it.
In his address, Polish President Andrzej Duda criticized Moscow’s ties with Belarus. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has been accused by Poland and Western allies of using migrants. They believe him to undermine the 27-nation European Union in response to its sanctions against his authoritarian regime. In the past month, hundreds of migrants from the Middle East have flooded the Belarus-Poland border. The majority wanted to reach Germany or other Western European countries because of conflict or despair at home.
As an ally of democracy in Eastern Europe, Poland made a commitment, Duda said. But, despite its beauty, it has some consequences, he says. We have become targets of Kremlin propaganda because of it.”
The U.S. might be at a turning point
Despite confrontations with angry voices at school board meetings, elections offices, and town halls, local elected officials are resigning at an alarming rate. States are enacting laws to limit access to the ballot, making it harder for Americans to vote. Following the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen, erodes confidence in the electoral process.
“We Americans know better than anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,” Biden says.
According to Biden, the passage of his ambitious domestic agenda. The $1 trillion infrastructure bill he signed into law as well as the nearly $2 trillion “Build Back Better Act,” which deals with social issues and climate change, that is making its way through the Senate – will show how democracy can improve people’s lives.
Several advocates also want Biden to focus on other ways to enhance democracy at home. Thursday, the House will vote on the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the third of a trio of bills – along with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – that has been largely supported by Democrats but stalled in the Senate by Republicans.
According to Freedom House’s annual report, the United States is experiencing its 15th consecutive year of declining democratic values. Freedom House’s president says that despite a thriving democracy in the United States, the country has suffered in recent years. The United States is currently experiencing difficulties making things happen and proving that democracy can work.”
Several countries have experienced democratic backsliding in the past decade, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. The United States now sits alongside India and Brazil on the list.
Sumit Facing International Backlash
Public criticism of the summit has come from Chinese officials. Taiwan’s participation has enraged them as well. The self-governing island is a part of Chinese territory, and the government vehemently objects to it having direct contact with foreign governments.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, declined to attend the conference. But, according to a statement issued ahead of the meeting, “We value our partnership with the U.S., which we hope to deepen both bilaterally and in terms of regional and international cooperation.”
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. has been fraught with suspicions on both sides. Pakistan objects to Washington’s criticism that Pakistan hasn’t been a reliable partner in the war on terror, claiming it harbors the Taliban while fighting the U.S.-led coalition. Pakistan claims that it has lost 70,000 people in the war on terror since 2001, and that it is ready to be a partner in peace, not in war.
Some uninvited countries have voiced their displeasure. The only EU member not invited, Hungary attempted to prevent EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen from speaking for the bloc. Biden described Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a “thug” during the 2020 campaign.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto describes the summit as a “domestic political event” where countries whose leaders had a good relationship with Trump weren’t invited.
Additionally, NATO member Turkey and key ally Egypt were omitted. The only Arab nation invited was Iraq. The Biden administration has criticized both Turkey and Egypt due to human rights abuses. Poland, which was criticized for undermining its judiciary and media independence, was invited.