US President Joe Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy, which began Thursday and ends Friday, seeks to unite democratic countries and forces in the face of this new world’s dangers. Today, superweapons include artificial intelligence, massive developments in computing (quantum computing) and space technology. Whoever dominates in these spheres will have the upper hand in technological progress and in the economic and military sectors.
Apparently aiming to shape a system of global governance, perhaps modeled on the Bretton Woods agreements at the end of World War II, Biden is relying on defending democracy with two very important goals: At the global level, supporting democratic countries, democratic forces and organizations is aimed at creating (or reinforcing) networks that can place limits on increasingly aggressive autocratic regimes; domestically, there is a need to curb forces that undermine democracy in the United States. There, as elsewhere, increasing inequality spurs tension between various groups and increases polarization. Furthermore, fanatical supporters of Donald Trump are moving to control crucial parts of the judiciary and the electoral bureaucracy.
The recently established EU-US Trade and Technology Council aims, among other things, to coordinate efforts to control the export of technology that could be used by autocratic regimes to suppress their citizens and to spread their influence abroad. In similar fashion, Biden pursues military and political alliances to limit the actions of China and Russia, with mixed results so far. The sudden announcement of the alliance with Britain and Australia against China provoked a storm in NATO, and the recent discussion with the leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Italy, one day before Biden’s conversation with Vladimir Putin, was aimed at getting hesitant allies to present a united front against Russia.
Defending democracy is “the defining challenge of our time,” Biden said yesterday, opening the summit. “The choices we make… in this moment are going to fundamentally determine the direction our world is going to take in the coming decades.”
Strengthening democracy inside the United States will be crucial to democracy’s fate across the world.