US ‘Summit for Democracy’ Guest List Sets Global Divisions

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By Chris Devonshire-Ellis 

It’s the countries not invited that have the real questions. We examine who’s in and who’s out

The US State Department has issued a guest list of countries and regions that are invitees to its ‘Summit For Democracy‘ which will be held as a virtual meeting, hosted by US President Joe Biden on December 9th and 10th. Neither China nor Russia are invited, while controversially, Taiwan is. The list is of relevance to parties interested in global development as the US ‘Build Back Better World’ B3W act is designed to provide infrastructure financing to ‘countries with similar values’. This list appears to spell out exactly who Washington views those countries and regions as being.

Invitees To The US Democracy Summit

Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

The Naughty List: Countries And Regions Not Invited To The US Democracy Summit

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote D’Ivorie, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, ESwatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda,  United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

The US ‘Summit for Democracy’ is a curious list and appears to be based more on geopolitical rather than democratic values. Without getting into the various aspects of what actually constitutes democracy, there are some surprising omissions. Singapore is not invited, where the Ukraine is. Kosovo is preferred over Bosnia. The Pope isn’t considered democratic. Bhutan, which allows voting and runs on ‘Gross National Happiness’ principles is left out, as are Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco, principalities all but then the United Kingdom is a monarchy.

The risk is how seriously certain countries take this, there could be the danger of some affront, in countries that need assistance. Pakistan, for example is a client of China with CPEC but it operates a democracy. India, where democratic values and a tendency to promote Hinduism in what is a secular state attends instead, which will raise hackles in Islamabad. A spectacular failure of US democracy is of course Afghanistan, not invited and a country abandoned to its fate.

The invitee list is not without its critics either: The Kremlin – Russia has a democratic constitution, although the US accuses it of manipulating it, has stated that the list appeared ‘divisive’. Beijing meanwhile has stated that its Belt and Road Initiative is open ‘to all who wish to take part’ and hasn’t made any differentials between democracies, monarchies, totalitarianism, or communist nations. The United States does make this distinction.

The main problem, as always, comes down to money and the United States role in acting as a ‘global benefactor’. Those days are now at an end; the US no longer fulfills this role. Lists such as these are in danger of undermining global institutions such as the United Nations and World Bank. They create a ‘this side’ and ‘that side’ mentality, which both China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin have consistently warned against – a cold war mentality and the diminishing of global institutions. The US guest list for the ‘Summit for Democracy’ does indeed look to becoming very close to the resurrection of exactly these values. Us, and Them.

President Biden stated in February this year that “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.” Three of those sentiments appear linked to military objectives and the possibility of conflict. This is what has Beijing and Moscow concerned and should be a key issue to be discussed at the Summit. What do those words actually mean? How does one intend to ‘fight’ for democracy when guest lists are apparently so black and white?

When the world’s wealthiest nation and its militarily strongest starts to issue lists of different countries on one side and others on another, the bigger questions need to start being asked.

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