The White House is defending President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy from critics and allies who argue the administration is unduly judging other nations without addressing problems at home.
Biden has drawn criticism from countries that failed to score an invite for the Dec. 9-10 video conference, a decision-making process that the White House has been asked numerous times to explain. The Philippines received an invite while Singapore did not. Pakistan, but not Bangladesh, was invited. And while the White House called upon the governments of Colombia, India, and Brazil to join, it did not do so with Bolivia, El Salvador, and others.
The U.S. is directing more resources to the Indo-Pacific, part of an organizational pivot, exemplified through a recent nuclear submarine pact with Australia that deeply angered France, America’s oldest ally. Officials have said privately the deal was necessary as China demonstrates increasing defense capabilities.
“It will be critical for us to have a long list of partners who we can rely on in the region,” said Carisa Nietsche, the associate fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. “The Philippines is one of many there.” Until recently, CNAS was led by Biden’s top adviser on Indo-Pacific affairs.
Biden’s decision to leave Turkey, a NATO member, off the list, sends a different message, namely that Biden is displeased by Ankara’s recent actions, including the purchase of an S-400 missile system from Russia over Washington’s objections.
“This is a clear signal to Turkey that while you are a NATO partner, you are not a Democratic partner,” she said, calling the defense purchase “probably one of the biggest thorns” in the relationship.
A more selective list “could help galvanize movement toward more democratic reforms in [absent] countries,” Nietsche said, “but also potentially as a little leverage to compel some of these countries to undertake reforms.”
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