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Biden’s Democracy Summit Could Backfire

Stephen M. Walt considers the potential merits and drawbacks of the Summit with regard to different framings of the current global state of democracy. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea, it is unclear what the ultimate goal of the initiative is, and flawed American democracy at home harms US credibility in promoting democracy. He situates the initiative in the wider context of problems with American foreign policy, the inability to clearly state and commit to principles and a tendency to aim high and then fail to deliver.

Walt offers several different interpretations of the context in which the Summit is occurring. If the Summit truly endeavours to counter rising authoritarianism, then this structure is suitable, but the US must complement its efforts by stopping its support of authoritarian rulers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. If the issue is the increasing global influence and power of China, then the US needs to be more open in which countries it may ally itself with. Finally, if the key issue is a global challenge such as the pandemic or climate change, then the US should foster cooperation across the world, instead of dividing it into "good" and "bad". Most concernedly, if the Summit is a failure, it may only serve to reinforce the sentiment that democracy itself is no longer fit for its purpose.

Read the full piece here in Foreign Policy.