Joe Biden accused of ambivalence about democracy

(Washington) Invite Cuba to a regional summit, no. Go to Saudi Arabia, yes, and maybe meet “MBS” there. Joe Biden, a self-proclaimed champion of democracies, has been accused of cynicism and even hypocrisy for his contradictory diplomatic positions in recent months.

Posted at 3:46 p.m.

Aurelia End
France media agency

During an interview with reporters Monday, dedicated to a regional summit with Latin America currently being held in Los Angeles, a senior White House official found himself on the defensive.

What is the logic in excluding Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from this “Summit of the Americas” due to “reservations” about democracy and human rights, while at the same time invoking the 79-year-old Democrat’s trip to Saudi Arabia?

“Cabbage and carrots”

“It’s a bit like comparing cabbage and carrots,” the White House official said. “This in no way suggests a different style by region.”

However, all of this remains embarrassing for Joe Biden, who sees himself as a champion of democracies against authoritarian regimes, and is not morally indignant.

And he issued a report that pointed out the responsibility of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and promised to make the oil kingdom a “pariah” on the international scene.

But now, according to the American press, he is thinking of meeting “Mohammed bin Salman”.

“If (Joe Biden) determines that it is in the interests of the United States to have contact with a foreign leader and that contact can produce results, then he will,” his spokeswoman Karen Jane said Monday.

“Pure sarcasm,” according to Robert Guttman, professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. “The midterm elections are approaching (in November) and everyone is angry with Biden, and he has to show he is doing something.”

oil

If “everyone wants Biden,” it’s in particular because of the prices at the pump that don’t stop going up. This infuriates Americans and threatens Democrats’ chances of retaining control of Congress.

So Joe Biden believes he has everything to gain from the lower price of black gold, if Riyadh agrees to produce more.

On the other hand, he cannot hope for any political benefit from dialogue with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. On the contrary, the Republican opposition will fire red balls at any rapprochement, particularly with the communist regime in Havana.

Therefore, the president “is betting that Americans will go blind with low gas prices and won’t notice he’s getting close to autocrats and dictators,” was recently indignant Andrea Prasow, executive director of the NGO Freedom Initiative.

Bruce Gentelson, a professor at Duke University, believes that the planned trip to Saudi Arabia is also a strategic mistake.

“What worries me is that it gives the impression that we are lying down” in front of Riyadh.

I do not think that the increase in Saudi oil production will have a significant impact on the price of gasoline. So it is counterproductive, both in terms of democracy and in terms of the balance of power.

Brazil

In Los Angeles, Joe Biden also scheduled his first bilateral meeting with far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Accurate interview: Washington is already publicly concerned about the maneuvers of the Brazilian head of state, who is seeking a second term, to challenge his country’s electoral system already.

This is not the first time that the Biden administration has fallen into a state of ambivalence, between democratic ambitions and diplomatic interests, for example a desire to counter those of China.

When he recently organized the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, the US president avoided, for example, Burma, but invited regimes that are not exactly models of democracy, for example Laos and Cambodia.



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