U.S. President-elect Joe Biden published an article in Foreign Affairs magazine in the March/April 2020 issue titled Why America Must Lead Again and subtitled, Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump.
In this important article, he announced that he will convene a Global Summit – something reminiscent of similar initiatives after major international crises and wars – with the key theme of protecting Democracy.
As I have noted in the past, the democratic system of government is being seriously challenged in a number of countries, even in the West.
This is mainly the result of the crises we are going through, like our economic problems and the immigration wave, but also the coming to power of authoritarian leaders – i.e. Putin, Erdogan, etc. – who are trying to undermine democracy while hiding behind a democratic cloak.
This movement has, unfortunately, gained additional acceptance from the fact that President Trump violated the clear rules of the United States’ democratic system of government in ways that no one dared to do in American history – but he also elevated those other leaders with the friendly relations he established with them.
Declarations that the election in the United States invited negative judgments about democracy in the United States sounded oxymoronic – is democracy in America in danger, people would ask. But there was some basis to it.
That's why Biden writes: “During my first year in office, the United States will organize and host a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the free world. It will bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions, honestly confront nations that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda … fighting corruption, defending against authoritarianism, and advancing human rights in their own nations and abroad.”
He added, “as a summit commitment of the United States, I will issue a presidential policy directive that establishes combating corruption as a core national security interest and democratic responsibility, and I will lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.”
“At the same time,” Biden continues, “free speech cannot serve as a license for technology and social media companies to facilitate the spread of malicious lies.”
And he concluded on a note of candor: “American leadership is not infallible; we have made missteps and mistakes. Too often, we have relied solely on the might of our military instead of drawing on our full array of strengths.”
These sound like great ideas.