A Summit for Democracy: 'Gloss' for an undemocratic world order
The Summit for Democracy logo seen displayed on a smartphone and on the background. /Getty
The Summit for Democracy logo seen displayed on a smartphone and on the background. /Getty

The Summit for Democracy logo seen displayed on a smartphone and on the background. /Getty

Editor's note: Keith Lamb is an independent international relations analyst who focuses on China's socialist development and global inequality. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The Summit for Democracy is part of the Joe Biden administration's efforts to "renew democracy in the United States and around the world." For the U.S., it is about "meeting the unprecedented challenges of our time."

The word "renew" gives the game away, for it emphasizes the Biden administration's consciousness that democracy in the U.S. has gone astray. Indeed, considering U.S. politicians are aware of the mass funding that goes into purchasing their "democracy," surely they, on the inside, can't believe they were ever working for the democratic will of their people in the first place, much less trying to export their democratic corruption to the rest of the world.

The U.S.-led Summit for Democracy is the "gloss" for an undemocratic world order where "meeting the unprecedented challenges of our time" is about maintaining U.S. domination for the sake of U.S. corporate funders, not its citizenry. As such, it aims to keep the world in undemocratic servitude.

To further illustrate my point, we only need to look at some of the events taking place at the Summit for Democracy, held by U.S. governmental organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which all have a distinct undemocratic flavor.

USAID, which labels itself as "the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results," is holding an event entitled "Partnering for Democracy: New Approaches for Reform" where it seeks to "highlight new approaches and partnerships that strengthen democracy, human rights, and governance."

Considering the U.S. possesses, what it calls the world's "premier development agency," it is amazing that under U.S.-led. efforts much of the world has witnessed de-development through war buttressed by human-rights propaganda and a lack of development by pushing neoliberal free trade onto countries that need protection against the large corporations who fund U.S. "democracy."

While USAID touts itself as the charitable face of the "U.S. people" to "advance a free, peaceful and prosperous world," it works hand in glove with U.S. corporations to open markets and resource extraction in the Global South. In this global scam, war is often the foundation for USAID's "charity."

In his Current Affairs' article "The Dark History of USAID," Saheli Khastagir outlines the blueprint for USAID's global scam. War-torn nations are offered help but in return, they must remove all roadblocks for U.S. corporations doing business in the host country. The poor country continues to do poorly, its citizens struggle to meet their basic needs, and now the country is indebted.

Even as plans were being drawn up to invade Iraq, Khastagir notes that USAID had already begun soliciting bids from large U.S. corporations to rebuild Iraq. In an unvirtuous circle, the very companies who were to win these bids, like Bechtel Corp., were sitting on "influential bodies advising the Department of Defense" and were drumming up support for the invasion.

A general view of the rubble of a destroyed building in Mosul's Old City, Iraq, January 8, 2018. /VCG
A general view of the rubble of a destroyed building in Mosul's Old City, Iraq, January 8, 2018. /VCG

A general view of the rubble of a destroyed building in Mosul's Old City, Iraq, January 8, 2018. /VCG

Bechtel won more than $1 billion in contracts related to the rebuilding of Iraq but in 2006, with 52 of its workers killed and more than half of its rebuilding projects incomplete, it left Iraq. Their uncompetitive winning of contracts and war profiteering, as shown by Open Secrets, led to a massive spike in their electoral funding to both the Democrat and Republican parties from 2006. Other dubious corporate entities working with USAID include the pesticide giant DuPont, who Khastagir notes have used USAID to enter into the "African agriculture market to further consolidate its control over the global seed market."

Democracy must be built on tangible development and it can only exist when equality in real development exists across the world. Clearly, USAID has failed for decades in this mission, and considering the hegemonic nature of the state it arises from, this is a purposeful failing. It is for this reason that the U.S. focuses not on material democracy but on idealist democracy where the language and process of democracy are more important than the actual democratic reality which works for all.

As such, is it any wonder that the NED, the organization that took over regime change activities from the CIA, is hosting an event entitled "The Complex Path to Achieving Democratic Dividends?" Global democracy is indeed a complex path to achieve when the very basic law of non-sovereign interference is flouted due to funding destabilization activities – this is precisely the job of the NED. In the case of China, it funded groups linked to the 2019 Hong Kong riot, and across the world, it funds organizations that work to further U.S. hegemonic interests under the guise of promoting democracy.

The final nail in the events being held at the Summit for Democracy is the event held by the U.S. Department of the Treasury entitled "Anti-Corruption as a Cornerstone of a Fair, Accountable, and Democratic Economy." Considering the U.S. democracy is corrupt to the core, a product of corporate funding, that is giving less and less back to the ordinary U.S. citizen and is destabilizing the world, having an entity like the Treasury whose mission is to "maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities by promoting the conditions that enable economic growth and stability at home and abroad" is simply counterintuitive.

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