By Addis Goldman
4 Mar 2023

For all its rhetorical expediency and partial truth, the democracy-autocracy formula being pronounced by the Biden administration is an artless Manichean antithesis as imprecise as it is untenable.

Other instances of relatively recent U.S. diplomatic engagement demonstrate the limitations of the democracy-autocracy formula. The “Summit of Democracies,” hosted by Biden in June 2021, was pitched as an attempt at “renewing democracy in the United States and around the world.” Yet the event was panned as “a fiasco, a flop, a disappointment.” For the most part, so too was the “Summit for the Americas,” hosted by the White House in June 2022, as both events excluded leaders from countries deemed qualitatively lacking in democratic bona fides. Biden being reduced to exchanging a deflating “cool dad” fist bump with Mohammad Bin Salman while in search of crude oil infusions from OPEC+ during the peak of the 2022 oil-supply shock, after vowing to turn the crown prince into a “pariah” in light of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, was another such instance.