US should look in the mirror before lecturing on democracy

By Md Enamul Hassan (People's Daily Online) 10:33, December 14, 2021

Just the other day, I was listening to some high-profile speakers at the Dialogue on Democracy held in Beijing, which shed light on the definition of democracy and the competing narratives behind it.

The dialogue featured Le Yucheng, China’s Vice Foreign Minister, and many renowned scholars such as Eric Li S. M and Zhang Weiwei from China, Kishore Mahbubani from Singapore, and Martin Jacques and John Ross from the UK.

They said that US-style democracy is not the only model for democracy in the world. They called on the US not to push any other country to follow it, as freedom of choice is one of the core values of democracy itself. They expected the US to respect other competing narratives on democracy, as it is a common value shared by all of humanity.

In his remarks, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said that some countries are using democracy as a cover, twisting its essence, and wilfully setting its standards. They even use democracy as a political tool for selfish gains and build small blocs to create division and confrontation in the world. This obviously runs against the spirit of democracy. Some in the West claim that there seems to be no democracy in China, and that the Communist Party of China is just authoritarian and autocratic. In their eyes, although China has created many miracles of long-term stability, rapid development and poverty reduction, and the government has the universal support of the Chinese people, it is still a country without democracy or human rights. This actually reveals their hostile mindset and intentions, namely, that democracy is just a tool used to repress anyone who disagrees with them and to contain the development of other countries.

The dialogue was held at a time when the US prepared to hold its much-hyped virtual Summit for Democracy, the first of its kind, held from December 9 to 10. The three themes of the summit are defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and advancing respect for human rights. In reference to the themes, I would like to say that the US has already brought controversy to its initiative even before it began by inviting Taiwan to the summit.

As a result, the true motives of the US for holding the summit have been exposed and the international community is barely showing any interest in it. The world can see that it is nothing but a political farce designed to spread anti-China rhetoric and propaganda in the name of democracy and human rights.

Analysts see the summit as a desperate attempt by the US to rally some countries behind it to prove that the already-collapsed superpower has reclaimed its lost position in the global arena. Many think it will do nothing to help the US pull off its objectives, but will only further divide the world during a devastating pandemic when unity is more important for mankind than ever before. Therefore, the summit is being seen as an old Cold War strategy by many international scholars.

While listening to the panelists at the dialogue in Beijing online, I began thinking about what the US and its allies have so far done to establish US-style democracy in the world. They first made the Iraqi people dream of freedom and democracy. Then they invaded Iraq, where troops from the US and its allies fought battles that tore the country apart. After paying a high price, Iraqis now want their country to return to the way things were before the invasion.

In the name of freedom and democracy, the US and its allies razed Afghanistan and Libya to the ground. The same happened in Libya, which has been struggling to end its raging civil war since 2011.

Apart from them, successive US governments have participated and interfered, both overtly and covertly, in the replacement of foreign governments around the world. Their major operations included the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion targeting Cuba, and support for the overthrow of Sukarno by General Suharto in Indonesia.

The US has also interfered in countries’ national elections, including Italy in 1948, the Philippines in 1953, and Japan in the 1950s and 1960s as well as Lebanon in 1957. According to one study, the US performed at least 81 overt and covert known interventions in foreign elections from 1946 to 2000. Another study found that the US engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change during the Cold War.

In the last year, the US has blocked the International Criminal Court (ICC) from investigating alleged human rights violations and crimes against humanity respectively by its forces in Afghanistan and by Israeli Forces in Gaza, Palestine, which showed the world the US’ true colors once again.

The Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the US to a ‘flawed democracy’ for the first time ever in its 2016 Democracy Index. Several factors contributed to the demotion, the Economist Intelligence Unit argued. First and foremost, Americans have lost confidence in their political process. According to the Pew Research Centre, public trust in government has been on a steady downward trend since shortly after the September 11th attacks in 2001.

To show the world the real conditions of democracy in the US, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently released a report titled The State of Democracy in the United States. The report said that American-style democracy is more like a meticulously set up scene in a Hollywood movie where a bunch of well-heeled characters publicly pledge commitment to the people but actually busy themselves with behind-the-scenes deals. Political infighting, money politics, and veto-cracy make it virtually impossible for quality governance to be delivered as desired by the general public. Americans are becoming increasingly disillusioned with US politics and pessimistic about American-style democracy.

The report mentioned that a Gallup survey in October 2020 shows that only 19 percent of the Americans surveyed are ‘very confident’ about the presidential election, a record low since the survey was first conducted in 2004. In November 2020, an online Wall Street Journal report argued that the 2020 general election can be seen as the culmination of a two-decade decline in faith in democracy in the US. According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 16 percent of Americans say democracy is working well or extremely well; 45 percent think democracy isn’t functioning properly, while another 38 percent say it’s working only somewhat well. A Pew Research Center survey finds that just 20 percent of Americans say they trust the federal government just about always or most of the time. Another Pew survey shows that 72 percent of Americans believe that democracy in the US has not been a good example for others to follow in recent years.

The report by China’s MFA precisely observed that the assault on Capitol Hill earlier this year has undermined the three major bedrocks of the American-style democracy--democracy in the US is not democratic as it claims, freedom in the US is not free as it claims, and the rule of law in the US is not bound by the law as it claims. The assault on the Capitol sent shock waves throughout the international community. While condemning the violence, many people, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also expressed disappointment in the US.

Faced with these heinous acts of subjugating freedom, democracy and human rights by the US at home and abroad, the world is right to be scared of the so-called democracy summit — once bitten, twice shy. They are strongly against the US strategy to victimize any other country in the name of democracy once again.

Analysts are of the view that the US has no moral grounds or right to sermonize on human rights and democracy until it cleans up its own home and brings American human rights violators to justice. They expect the US to look in the mirror before lecturing others on democracy and human rights.

Source: Bangladesh Post

Md Enamul Hassan is a news editor at China Media Group (CMG), Beijing, China.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of People’s Daily Online.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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