Uncle Sam is in summit mode. First, as a nation with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths and a self-inflicted low vaccination rate, the US hosted a virtue summit last September to discuss such issues as “vaccinating the world” and “saving lives now.” Then, last month at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the world’s biggest GHG contributor of all time stole the scene in an attempt to reclaim its frail leadership. Next month, the US will be holding the so-called “Summit for Democracy,” a culmination of its dramatic year that is defined by COVID-related tragedies, racial injustice, gun violence, and national division at home, brutal and inhumane treatments of asylum-seekers along the border, and implacable misdeeds aimed at inflaming tensions, fomenting unrest, and fostering instability abroad.
Call it what you want—the “emperor of democracy” propagating his stainless and invisible “clothing of democracy”; a 21st-century Salem witch trial filled with name-calling, blackwashing, and smear campaigns; or a Cold War-like faction game where dissimilarity in social systems is deemed as an irreconcilable rift—the “Summit for Democracy” won’t save the US from its democratic new low. Neither will it erase or ease the sufferings and agonies America has inflicted elsewhere in the name of planting its so-called “democracy.”
If American leaders have anything to address at the “democracy summit,” maybe they should start from a confession.
For starters, a confession of a crime against humanity. In the shadow of its medical dystopia where the virus, protests and mandates coexist, over three-quarters of a million Americans have been deprived of the right to life, even with overflowing vaccine doses. Amidst a parallel pandemic of gun violence blended with racism—in which a teen carrying an automatic gun can kill two and still get acquitted—the rights and liberty of owning lethal weapons rise up, even though innocent people, be they school children or the elderly or international students, can be gunned down anywhere, at any time. If there are causes of death in a democracy, the US government’s inaction and counteraction on COVID-19 mitigation and gun control are definitely among them.
The host of the summit might also need to come clean about its heinous and failed attempts in disseminating its brand of “democracy” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, to name but a few, at the expense of civilians’ lives—or “collateral damage” according to what the superpower and its media backers cold-bloodedly call them. This month, a New York Times exposé disclosed a horrifying atrocity committed and covered up by the US military, in which a 2019 US military operation in Syria slew at least 70 women and children for no reason. That number, however, is merely a drop in the bloody ocean that US has bombed out of. According to Statista, US airstrikes have killed at least 22,000 civilians since 9/11 in the aforementioned three nations alone. But look what the US has brought to Afghanistan and its people—a duplicate of American-style democracy? To borrow a metaphor from the Washington Post, if there was a tinge of democracy in Afghanistan, that democracy died in the storm of shots and shells fired by the US.
Moreover, the US should explain what is in the formula of American-style “democracy” that has allowed US politicians and American media to have so much pride and prejudice so as to make them always stand in a position of strength when criticizing others despite its numerous wrongdoings. Is it something to do with America’s electoral system in which a losing candidate can still blame his defeat on voter fraud and subsequently incite a Capitol riot? Or is it associated with the fact that policymaking can be easily swayed by lobbyists and the rich elite while politicians can only represent half of the population at any one time?
No democracy is perfect or superior. But with a democratic model as flawed as Uncle Sam’s, it is just unimaginable to witness it step up to the podium to act as the supreme lecturer and guardian of democracy. It is no less ironic than seeing America hosting a COVID-19 virtue summit when its leaders can’t even convince many of its own people to get vaccinated or act responsibly to save lives. Summits of all issues, champion of none. Instead of chanting “build back better” or making its country “great again,” why hasn’t the US always made every effort to pursue goodness for itself and for the world as a whole?