Under Biden administration, US diplomacy is dead


While the US under Biden administration is pushing forward its aggressive policy of cow-towing several nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East through its so-called approach for better democracy, which political analysts term as ‘democratism’, China is expediting its diplomatic approach clearly with the goal of establishing its dominance over American influence in the world.

Recent Chinese success in mediating normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran is although seen by most of the Western analysts as “too early to comment” or an effort which would “fall flat soon”, others say, this has proved one key issue – China is gaining momentum in its global diplomacy.

According to Christopher Mott, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, “While the long-term results of the People’s Republic of China’s diplomatic outreach into both the Middle East and Ukraine remain unknown, it is apparent that the foreign policy establishment in Washington DC was taken aback by the speed at which Beijing’s reputation is rising. The long-running Saudi-Iranian rivalry has been partially fueled by the United States, meaning that Washington could never serve as a reliable mediator for all parties. China’s distance and relatively non-partisan-seeming approach to the region, however, enables more parties to be willing to at least discuss putting aside one of the more dangerous rivalries of the twenty-first century.

Elsewhere, India plays an agile game of diplomacy, neither endorsing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nor rejecting its long-standing and beneficial security relationship with Moscow that dates back to independence. Brazil, increasingly, tows no one’s line at the UN and is quick to question narratives from the great powers. France asserts that European core interests and North American core interests are rapidly diverging”.

In 2022, eminent scholar Dr Emily Finley released an important and comprehensive book that charts the history of this worldview. In ‘The Ideology of Democratism’, Dr Finley charts how the world view of Rousseau, built upon by later additions coming from Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John Rawls, Leo Strauss, and up through the Bush Era neoconservatives, injected a universalist faith in liberal democracy as the guiding principle of not just specific societies and local circumstances (the preference of Washington, Hamilton, and the early Federalists in US history), but of the entire world. Democratic systems are no longer outgrowths of particular historical and geographic circumstances but are taken to be the inevitable destiny of all of mankind. For a democracy to be threatened anywhere is to be threatened everywhere. Thus, democracy becomes a kind of civic religion known as “Democratism”.

According to Dr Finley, “One of the paradoxes of Democratism, as described by Finley, is that the democratist claims to speak “for the people” while also being highly dismissive of local concerns or popular opinion should these contradict the missionary mentality of expansion of democracy abroad or deviate from the plans of democracy experts. The “national will” is not something left up to individual elections but is rather a long-term project that can only be entrusted to the technocrats of democratic governance. In other words, only the democratists themselves can govern policy because only the mission of democratization is a legitimate purpose for a government whose goals transcend day-to-day concerns about security and infrastructure. Finley contends that this is now the default ideology of the governing and media classes in the North Atlantic, and especially in the foreign policy establishment of Washington. In a world where the US expects Europe to hold solidarity with it on Taiwan (or Japan to not break ranks sanctioning Russia over Ukraine), it becomes apparent that, whether cynically or genuinely used, democratism is the rhetoric if not the purpose of present-day global over-extension.

“While not the entirety of the reason why the Beltway struggles to shed its imperial hubris and adapt to the new multipolar world, (much of that is simply complacency) understanding democratism’s hold over the governing elite is vital for explaining the unique hostility found in so much of foreign policy commentary towards a soberer and more realistic appraisal of the world”.

Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times, published an analytic piece that should be disturbing food for thought, especially for professional diplomats but also for everyone else. While marking, along with President Joe Biden, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, Baker observed that “such diplomatic breakthroughs have become a thing of the past”. In recent years, nations -and especially the United States – have appeared more likely to break treaties and international agreements than to sign new ones. Baker concludes that although it would go too far to talk about the death of diplomacy, “certainly there is a dearth of diplomacy for now”.

Baker uses formal agreements as a measure of diplomatic accomplishment, a gauge that may overstate the problem. The output of productive diplomacy goes well beyond such agreements to include communication and informal understandings that help to stabilize volatile situations, as well as the persuasion of foreign governments to act more in line with the interests of the country the diplomat represents. Nonetheless, Baker is on to something, and it is appropriate to consider what most accounts for the dearth.

America’s image at stake

In my opinion, America’s image is at stake largely because of feud-ridden domestic politics as well as Washington’s increased interference into freedom of press and freedom of expression, while using federal agencies during 2020 in nakedly censoring criticism of Joe Biden and Democratic Party as well as the laptop scandal of Hunter Biden. The way US federal agencies had either compelled or used social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter in censoring New York Post reports exposing Hunter Biden’s mischiefs, America possibly has lost credibility in the world when it lectures freedom of press or freedom of expression.

At the same time, when the United States raises fingers at law enforcement agencies in the foreign countries with the accusations of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings, we can see reports almost on a regular basis when Americans are killed by their own law enforcement agencies under the claims of “neutralizing”. In fact, for law enforcement agencies, in some cases, neutralizing notorious terrorists and jihadist (as the US has done in cases on Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Qasem Soleimani and others, no one in the world has ever raised question about any of these cases as it was the only effective measures left with the US authorities in saving the world from gruesome terrorist acts of these individuals. Similarly, in case of Bangladesh, in some cases, the country’s elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) needs to opt for taking stern measures such as neutralizing terrorists and militants for the sake of national security and safety of the citizens. But unfortunately, Washington has been regularly criticizing such anti-terror actions of RAB despite the fact that it is one of the most dependable partners of the United States in its war on terror.

Secondly, Washington has been unnecessarily meddling into domestic affairs of Bangladesh without understanding key issues, where in some cases the US even makes effort of reinstating anti-liberation forces such as Jamaat-e-Islami into Bangladesh’s politics or shows bias towards Islamists and jihadists such as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) clearly with the ulterior agenda of turning a peaceful Bangladesh into a land of terror or another Afghanistan.

The United States needs to understand, as they have their own method of democracy, countries like Bangladesh too has to maintain democracy with priority to public safety and national security. At the same time, Bangladesh cannot allow Islamists, jihadists and anarchists in capturing power with foreign support, which certainly would jeopardize the country’s ongoing process of socio-economic prosperity. Unless Washington realizes these facts, America’s diplomacy shall be deemed as rogue and ultimately its global influence will be dried up.

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