On the 9th and 10th of December, the US held the Summit for Democracy with the purpose of encouraging world leaders to make commitments for the strengthening of democratic values across the globe. The United States of America calls itself the “beacon of democracy” and the only truly democratic nation in the world whom the rest of the countries should follow.
For example, when the US started its engagement policy with China, it was of the view that with time, due to economic integration, China will become democratic. This engagement policy failed and today, China is defying the US’ hegemonic position. To explore whether the US is actually the beacon of democracy and if it’s wise for other countries to traverse the path dictated by it, one must look into the democratic system and policies of the US itself.
A “Democracy” Waging Wars
The United States, which considers itself the leader of the democratic world, has the fame of its presidents calculated by the decisions of wars. The two most popular presidents of the USA, whose popularity reached 90 percent at one point, are George Bush Sr. and his son, George W. Bush because of their decision to wage war in 1991 and 2001, respectively.
After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US emerged as the sole superpower of the world. It waged wars, supported the color revolutions, and economically strangulated states like North Korea and Venezuela in the name of promoting democracy. The USA is a country that killed leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, patronized apartheid in South Africa, and holds the largest prisons in the world where 80 percent of the prisoners are black.
The true essence of democracy is that it promotes co-existence and patience to different opinions and values in society. But in the US, if someone is Latino or black, then his life is at constant risk. True democracy is where there is a rule of people not of a small capitalist class. 90 percent of the US Congress constitutes of the capitalist class.
In 2014, a study by Martin Gilens, professor of politics at Princeton University, revealed that seventy percent of the US population has no power to alter the course of American policy. In theory, it is the idea of “one person, one vote” while in reality, it is the rule of a “small elite class”. The Capitol riot, the murder of George Floyd, and the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic are the shreds of evidence of the dysfunctional nature of the US democracy.
Democracy is like a universal right that must be chosen according to the will of each and every state. It is not something to be imposed from the outside. The democratic system in any country must not be judged by a few outsiders; rather, the people of the state themselves must judge the level of democracy in their country. Any efforts by the US to promote democracy in other states by military intervention have so far proven themselves as complete failures.
Afghanistan is the most recent example of the US’ failed “mission” of spreading democracy. The US spent trillions of dollars and 20 years in Afghanistan to make it a democratic country. Yet, all these efforts failed and Afghanistan is in an acute crisis after the sudden withdrawal of the US-led forces in August 2021.
America has used the promotion of democracy as a weapon to support its military-industrial complex. It waged unnecessary wars in Libya, Syria, and Iraq to impose democracy in these countries. All these states are now suffering, demonstrating the failure of the US’ democracy promotion. The lesson from these wars is that democracy is the prerogative of the people of a state and it cannot be imposed by foreign powers.
Summit for Democracy
The Summit for Democracy is seen by many critics as a tool to divide the world. For example, in South Asia, the US invited India, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Nepal for the summit but did not invite Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which are also democracies. China—a major power that calls itself a true democracy or a socialist democracy—was also not invited.
Hence, the Summit for Democracy was more like a tool to preserve the hegemony of America and divide the world along the lines of “us vs them” and less like a forum for spreading true democratic values. India which has a bad record of human rights violations is also a “democracy”. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, declared this summit as a tool to draw a line globally and divert attention from the internal problems of the US.
Given all these issues with the US democratic system, wiser states will be those who would not follow its democratic model. Kishore Mahbubani – a Singaporean diplomat and academic – in his book, “Has China Won?”, argued that under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China is the most restrained and it acts as a status quo power, unlike the US in the 19th century.
If China suddenly became a democracy like the US, it will be an imperialist and interventionist power which is not beneficial for humanity, given the number of global challenges the world is facing right now. America must stop its rhetoric of transforming the world into its style of democracy. There are different types of democracies and the citizens of the states must choose which type suits their political and social culture the best.
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