Growing disdain for America’s false democratic ideals

In 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) downgraded the US democratic system. The EIU has an annual Democracy index that provides a snapshot of global democracy by rating countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. They are then classified into four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian regime.
The US is rated as a flawed democracy – one having free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation. According to Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies, there is a trust deficit between the American people and the government, which has a corrosive effect on the functioning of democracy.
There is also a growing trust deficit between rising powers in the international community and the US, and in fact EIU is not the only entity that has downgraded US democracy. Another unlikely actor has also downgraded the US – China. The US is partial democracy, partial dictatorship? In his 2010 book The China Dream, retired People’s Liberation Army Colonel Liu Mingfu from China’s National Defense University challenged US foreign policy towards non-western countries.
Noting that the US often bypasses international consensus, and uses military power to overthrow “non-democratic” and “illegitimate” dictators it dislikes (eg, in Iraq, Libya, and Syria) while supporting US-friendly “legitimate” dictators (eg, in Qatar and Saudi Arabia), Liu states that the US has failed the true “democratic” power test.
He argued that the US is not a gold standard “democracy” or a “legitimate” actor in the international system, and condemned the American penchant for overthrowing foreign governments that defy Washington. Liu made the stunning claim that the US is only a half democracy – a democratic system at home, but a hegemonic and autocratic power abroad. He said: “The substantive characteristic of a democratic country has two aspects: The first, democratic domestic policies without totalitarianism in domestic society, and the second, democratic international policies without hegemony in the international community.”
He continued: “To judge whether a country is democratic, one needs to see whether it adopts democratic systems at home and in international diplomacy.” Because the US failed the “democratic” litmus test in the international system, Liu views the US as only a “half democratic” country and therefore should not wag its finger at others for not being democratic or try to topple them.
This sentiment is echoed by a select few in the US establishment. In a December 18, 2015, Foreign Policy article, Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, retired Lieutenant General Robert Gard, chairman emeritus of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, and retired Brigadier General John H Johns, professor emeritus at the US National Defense University, called for US-Russia cooperation in Syria and an end to the US obsession with regime change.
The authors said: “In the past, Washington has tried to sideline dictators like Assad, Muammar al Qaddafi in Libya, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We have advocated democratic norms and human rights in those countries. The results: increased chaos and destruction, rather than a shift to the norms and aspirations for a democratic revolution.”
Moreover, US weaponization of human rights issues to serve its strategic interests risks eroding international human rights norms, as well as the credibility and integrity of human rights organizations.
US weaponization of human rights
In the 2014 case of Eritrea, which has a border dispute with Ethiopia, the US tried to sanction the tiny nation of 6 million people for “supporting terrorism” to appease Addis Ababa, which Washington sees as a partner in the continuing “war on terror.”
When the UN’s Somali-Eritrea Monitoring Group found no proof that Eritrea was supporting al-Shabaab, 14 out of 15 UN Security Council members indicated that they wanted to lift sanctions, but the US vetoed the move. It then pushed to establish the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COI) to investigate crimes against humanity and lay the groundwork for eventual regime change.
This prompted Redie Bereketeab, a senior researcher and associate professor at the Nordic Africa Institute, to decry the COI’s dubious research methodology. He says the UN commission gathered information from politically motivated and disgruntled government opponents, asylum seekers and neighboring countries that opposed Eritrea, while all the sources remained anonymous and the UN had no way of verifying their testimonies.
Source : Asia Times


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