By Andres Oppenheimer
President Biden deserves credit for convening a Summit of Democracies to promote democratic freedoms around the world. But there is a real danger that by inviting some elected leaders with an authoritarian streak, he may end up legitimizing wannabe tyrants.
According to a White House statement, Biden “will bring together leaders from a diverse group of world’s democracies at a virtual Summit of Democracies” on Dec. 9 and 10, to be followed by a second, in-person summit next year.
The goal of the first meeting will be to come up with joint initiatives to defend against authoritarianism, fight corruption and promote respect for human rights, it says. It sounds great, and it’s is certainly a welcome departure from President Trump’s embrace of North Korean despot Kim Jong-un and other autocrats whom he wooed gleefully while ignoring their human-rights abuses.
But the Biden administration runs the risk of making the mistake of trying to build a big tent and invite both well-established and hybrid democracies, with the idea of getting the latter to abide by the group’s general rules. That has been tried in the past, and it didn’t work out well.
In the late 1990s, the Clinton administration co-sponsored a huge international summit aimed at bolstering democracy around the world.
Source: Oppenheimer’s Report