By Philip Bump
18 March 2022

Last summer, the administration announced that Biden would host a “Summit for Democracy” centered on bolstering democratic political systems in the face of growing authoritarian and autocratic movements around the world. In promoting it, the State Department highlighted a quote from Biden’s speech to the Munich Security Conference the previous February: “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.”

By the time the summit arrived in December, its thesis was already becoming alarmingly salient. NATO had begun raising the alarm about Russia’s military movements in mid-November; in early December, The Washington Post reported that Russia planned to invade Ukraine with overwhelming force. The demand that democracy be defended and fought for was suddenly very literal.