At least 108 countries will participate in a yearend D.C. virtual summit beginning Dec. 9 to strengthen democracies globally.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations (the CFR), “the President’s goal will need robust U.S.- European cooperation to succeed.”
The gathering is organized around three broad themes:
—Defending against authoritarianism
—Promoting respect globally for human rights
The Biden administration, according to a CFR press release, has described the summit as “a way to strengthen our institutions, honestly confront nations that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda” to achieve these goals.
Some additional history
“Since the end of World War II,” the CFR notes, “European countries have been among America’s most important partners. The transatlantic relationship has formed the backbone of the liberal international order with the creation of the United Nations, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
“Today,” the Council adds, “similar cooperation will be required to restore confidence in democracy. Delivering broad-based economic cooperation will be crucial to that effort.
“Doing so means getting the economics right,” according to the CFR, “and there is no broader or deeper economic relationship among democracies than that between the United States and the European Union.”
Issues that complicate the upcoming Summit’s agenda
As the CFR cautions, however, “controversial issues loom as the democracy summit convenes.” The Council warns, for example, that if the summit defines geopolitics as a clash between democracies and authoritarian countries, “this could alienate potential allies and undermine America’s ability to cooperate with Russia and China in other areas.”
The Council’s press release adds that in a recent joint op-ed, the PRC and Russian ambassadors to the United States criticized the upcoming summit, calling it evidence of Washington’s “Cold War mentality.”
A great United States asset at the conference
“However,” according to the Council, “cooperation from democratic nations, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region, will be crucial. Efforts to make technological supply chains more resilient, for example, will have to include Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
“Follow-through from Japan and South Korea on their commitments to end overseas coal financing will be similarly critical for combatting climate change.” (I would add, it might encourage China to reduce coal production even more than the modest amount Beijing recently pledged.)
In conclusion, the CFR essay says: “In all these areas, strong, well-coordinated action by the United States and European Union can help embolden democracies (and advance their goals) around the world.”
CFR Podcast on Democracy Summit, click here.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More