Guest Opinion: Let's forget about the Summit for Democracy and focus on problems desperately needed to be fixed-Xinhua

Guest Opinion: Let's forget about the Summit for Democracy and focus on problems desperately needed to be fixed

Source: Xinhua| 2023-03-31 15:27:15|Editor:

by Peter Beattie

The word "democracy" comes from two Greek words, "demos" for people and "Kratia" for power. If political power was concentrated in the hands of only some of the people, it would be oligarchy. And if the few who rule are the rich, it would be a plutocracy.

I am still trying to figure out who leads the United States. I prefer a former Obama speech-writer's term, particularly for the foreign policy establishment. That is "the Blob," the U.S. foreign policy establishment consisting of think tanks, politicians, and defense contractors.

What "the Blob" is thinking is quite a mystery for people from other countries. Because on the one hand you have the lofty rhetoric from U.S. leaders about the ideals of democracy and human rights and the moral imperative of implementing these ideals. But on the other hand, you have the historical record of the U.S. government supporting allied dictatorships, violations of international law, meddling in other countries' elections, supporting and co-organizing coups against elected leaders, and so on.

How do we explain this glaring discrepancy? If I were viewing this from abroad, the explanation would be that all the talk about democracy and human rights is pure cynicism, and that U.S. leaders know full well that they are creating a smokescreen to hide their true goal, which is maximizing power at all costs.

According to this theory, the idealistic rhetoric about democracy is just a stick used to beat governments that don't play ball with the United States. That is, they don't follow orders.

Most people in the United States, including politicians, have at best a faint idea of the extent of anti-democratic interventions their government has imposed around the world. U.S. foreign policy is hypocritical, and the U.S. government applies double or even quadruple standards to other countries.

The United States has one standard for subordinate allies, in which democracy is nice but largely irrelevant, and another standard for countries that have failed to subordinate their policies to Washington's dictates.

But in the minds of U.S. politicians, this isn't the vice of hypocrisy. It's a virtue. Because in their ideology, any other potential hegemony would not be as beneficent as the United States. Hence, the United States' primary responsibility is maintaining its hegemony, even if that requires sacrificing secondary ideals like democracy and human rights.

The U.S. foreign policy establishment has been trying to create a new enemy to replace first the USSR and then global terrorism in the first part of the 21st century, and that is China.

However, this is a mistake. It's dangerous not only for the two countries, but for everyone on this planet, because the United States, along with every other country on Earth, faces only two truly existential threats, nuclear weapons and the ecological crisis.

The International Panel on Climate Change recently released the final installment of their 6th Assessment Report, which clearly warned that governments must act immediately to avert a climate catastrophe. This is why the U.S. government's apparent eagerness to start a new Cold War is so threatening.

We don't have time for a new Cold War. We don't even have time for hostile U.S.-China relations. At the very minimum, we need an unprecedented degree of cooperation between China, the United States and the European Union to transform the global economy for long-term sustainability.

We know what needs to be done, such as massive investments in renewable energy, electrifying everything that can be electrified, and using green hydrogen or other renewable energy sources for anything else.

Right now China has made more public investments in renewable energy than any other country. But more is needed, especially in cooperation. There is an opportunity for China to take the lead by redoubling, tripling, quadrupling its investments in renewable energy. And in that scenario, it would be hard for the Blob to demonize China when it is busy building the economy of the future and an ecological civilization -- an economy running on renewable energy and designed to be indefinitely sustainable.

So in conclusion, I would advise forgetting entirely about this shambolic Summit for Democracy and focusing attention instead on problems we desperately need to solve, so as to make human civilization sustainable for the long term.

Editor's note: Peter Beattie is a professor in the Master of Global Political Economy Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.