Democracy Is Fine and Good, Until It Jeopardizes the “Rules-Based Order”

This week will see the second meeting of U.S. President Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” take place online March 28-30. What the Biden Administration has not yet realized, is that, outside of the western “cocoon”, the “democracy vs. autocracy” mantra has lost credibility throughout the world. Excluded from the event are those who openly challenge the rules-based order, including China, Russia, Egypt, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, and many more.

A few recent examples show that in times of crisis, leaders in the United States and Europe don’t hesitate to overthrow the sacrosanct principles they dictate to others.

  • United States. Vice President Kamala Harris is on a week-long tour of Africa this week to vaunt “western values” to local leaders. Unfortunately for her, in a hearing at the House of Representatives March 23, the head of the of the U.S. Army’s Africa Command, General Michael Langley, acknowledged that Washington shares “core values” with some of the coup leaders in Africa.
  • In Switzerland, the law required that Credit Suisse’s shareholders vote on the takeover by UBS. But faced with a “no” from shareholders, and thus a serious risk for the entire international system, the authorities declared a state of emergency to override that option.
  • France. When it became clear that President Macron’s pension reform (demanded by “the markets”) would not gain a majority in the National Assembly, the government used an exceptional provision to pass it by decree (Article 49,3) without a vote (cf. SAS 12/23).
  • Germany. A new election law was just passed by parliamentarians of the ruling parties March 17, that raises the barrier for smaller parties, such as the CSU, FDP, Linke, to win seats in the Bundestag. Not surprising that the initiative comes at a time when voter disgust with the main parties is growing by leaps and bounds.
  • Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu plans a judicial reform to strip the courts of significant powers and concentrate them in the government and legislature. Finally, after a mass mobilization of Israeli citizens, including army reservists, and the protests of the Defense Minister, who was quickly fired, the government backed down and agreed to postpone the measure for now.

Such “autocratic” moves have not gone unnoticed in the rest of the world, including in Russia, NATO’s arch-enemy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the issue in an article in Razvedchik (Intelligence Officer). In this time of “historic geopolitical shifts”, he notes, the “collective West” is doing everything “to revive the unipolar model, which has run its course. They want to force the world to live in a Western-centric rules-based order that they invented themselves, while seeking to punish those who disagree with these rules, even if no one has ever seen them and they are nowhere to be found.” In response, he wrote, Russia has developed a strategic partnership with China, and is bolstering relations with India, Brazil, Iran, the Emirates, Türkiye, Saudi Arabia, South Africa “and many other friendly states”.

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