08.06.2021 – 09:20
The international liberal order remains stuck in the twentieth century. As autocracies like China and Russia develop more and more areas of cooperation, the United States is responding by building or strengthening its regional clusters, from NATO to the Indo-Pacific Quad (US, Japan, Australia and India). But America should instead take a global approach that focuses on values and visions rather than countries.
New types of authoritarianism pose new challenges to democratic aspirations from Crimea to Taiwan. In Eastern Europe and East Asia, the tactics of spreading war in the “gray area” are endangering the territorial integrity of countries, open trade systems, democratic elections, technology supply chains and the rule of law. These illiberal threats are no longer just European, American or Asian issues. They aim at all open societies, international human rights and democracy itself.
Unfortunately, America’s international frameworks after 1945 are inadequate to foster a common dialogue among liberal societies. The G7, NATO, the European Union and the Quad are too regionally diverse to create a strong global response. Consider the issue of semiconductors. The most advanced play a fundamental role in new technologies such as biotechnology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence and are produced almost exclusively by the US, EU and their Asian allies. But semiconductor manufacturers depend on a global talent and trade system in which China is deeply embedded. No democratic forum currently exists to generate consensus on international standards, export controls or industrial cooperation.
The US, the EU and their Asian democratic allies, which have technologically sophisticated economies and high living standards, together account for roughly half of global GDP. But if the US is to defend and renew its economic foundations and approach autocracies from a strong position, their strategy cannot be merely trans-Pacific or transatlantic; it must be open source from all over the democratic world.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has, or at least has had, a vision of global democratic cooperation, but one has focused on countries rather than issues. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and author and expert Robert Kagan called for the creation of a “league of democracies” in 2019. Likewise, during the presidential transition, Biden announced his intention to convene a “Democracy Summit” during his first year in office. But the administration got stuck on the rock that topples all such efforts: the difficulty of determining who belongs to the liberal democratic club. So he renamed the meeting to the “Democracy Summit” and apparently postponed it to next year.
Instead of focusing on democracy itself, the summit should emphasize the core values that liberal democracies value: an open society, the rule of law, representative government, economic opportunities, privacy, security, freedom of expression, justice and equality. To this end, the US should consider how to work with smaller states to bring countries together in support of specific democratic norms and standards on important issues. Jared Cohen of the Council on Foreign Relations and Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for New American Security, argue that such “microlateralism” is a combination of “leading a small country and the participation of a large state.” it could be a “key” instrument in the United States’ collective action package. “
Developing a code of best practice for pandemic responses of open societies can be an easy starting point. Taiwan, for example, has been among the most successful in opposing COVID-19, despite its proximity to Chinese territory and lack of vaccines. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, recently praised Taiwan’s treatment of the pandemic, saying the United States has “much to learn” from the country’s ability to combat disinformation and address the challenges of a democratic society. interconnected. The U.S. may turn to New Zealand to chair or co-chair a meeting of states committed to developing a set of principles or codes of conduct to combat pandemics. This can be named after the host city, like the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Such a forum should not be limited to government. Civil society, academia, industry, philanthropy, and religious organizations are all multiplier forces for democratic dynamism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and vaccine developers like Pfizer-BioNTech have been invaluable in immunizing society respectively from disinformation and the virus. The liveliness of these non-governmental actors is one of the unique strengths of liberal democracies versus authoritarian systems. Moreover, these meetings can disseminate best democratic practices to combat disinformation. Estonia, which developed a multifaceted digital approach to strengthening its democratic institutions following a series of crippling cyber attacks in 2007, provides an excellent example of how civilian technology can foster resistance to autocratic hostility.
It’s a digital nomad visa has allowed citizens of countries from Canada to South Africa to work virtually in Estonia, thus integrating further private sector expertise and strengthening cultural ties with other open societies.
Such innovative pockets of ingenuity illuminate a positive light on the value of human freedom and show how emerging democratic norms and distribution can provide a twentieth-century model of governance with many centers.
The Biden administration is currently preparing for the upcoming G7 and NATO meetings, but prominent democracies such as Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Taiwan and South Korea will not be at the table (although the UK has invited some as guests at the G7 meeting).
An effective mechanism for strategizing between liberal-democratic states can help America regulate itself and provide value-based leadership on human rights, security, technology governance, supply chains, and even global corporate taxation. Emerging or endangered democracies, seeing opportunities more than just forced elections, will certainly consider.
The US strategy for addressing authoritarian challenges should be global, not regional, pluralistic rather than unitary, and issue-based rather than country-based. Over a century ago, after the last pandemic, America was the engine that spurred the creation of a new international order. Today, it must lead from the center rather than the front, side by side with many other countries, to seize a unique opportunity to update the model of a more interconnected, inclusive and democratic global society.
Translated and adapted by Project Syndicate / FH, Konica.al