What US President Joe Biden convened this month as Summit for Democracy aimed to “galvanize commitments against authoritarianism; fight corruption; and promote respect for human rights” has only further sharpened the fault lines in international diplomacy. The US has, undoubtedly, a history patronising democracy and human rights across the world. But the way it has demonstrated bias and arm-twisting in post-Cold War global geopolitics has, frankly speaking, weakened its credentials for the job. People also ask whether it was not the same America, which connived with, and virtually patronised authoritarian regimes and propped up sham democracies in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq while pursuing its vested interests under the war on terror, or even before that. And, isn’t Washington behaving in an exclusionist manner now when it has excluded and included invitees to the summit based on their affiliation with it or against it? Democracy does need a patron at the world level, as do human rights and civil liberties. But doesn’t democracy need to be re-defined after decades of turmoil have left the entire world in shambles? Doesn’t the growingly hostile demarcation between pro and anti-American blocs need to be done away with to create a homogeneous international order and make Planet Earth a model of unity in diversity, which the American polity itself wishes to be? Truths are bitter. They have, rather, become more acrid in the present acrimonious global geopolitics, in which ethnic and religious extremism has pitched human communities against each other in a bloody war of survival. Both American people and their leadership might feel offended by such harangue. But a superpower does need to have the courage to listen. It has to understand the sentiments of the world’s people if it is serious in ruling the world. The military junta in Myanmar may go ahead with its repressive tactics if the international fraternity continues to act as a silent spectator. Whatever enmity it has against Russia and whatever rivalry it nurtures against China? All need to be streamlined into a healthy political and economic competition – competition in fitness to govern the world. That competition needs a conducive atmosphere. That constructive environment is possible only in a democratic world order governed by rules of business and principles of justice and equal rights of states. They say rather than a system of government, democracy is more a behavior, a culture to tolerate each other and concede the rights of others, to ensure maximum liberties to human beings, and to protect people from usurpation and exploitation. Democracy is not just the name of any particular mechanism for governance. If republicanism is a democracy, the parliamentary system of government is also a democracy. Constitutional monarchies can also not be stamped out non-democratic. Even Chinese Communism has undergone massive changes in the post-Tiananmen protest era. Economic liberties and free-market economies are now among the outstanding specifications of the Chinese system. Russia is also out of Iron Curtain now. There are regular elections and civil liberties are guaranteed – albeit with their own stipulations. Even orthodox monarchies, like the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, are now on the way to introducing sweeping reforms to ensure more rights and liberties to their citizens. The only thing that is needed to accelerate this natural and historical process of democratization and openness is to build a consensus mechanism that can protect its growth from rampant perils and put it on the path of development. In this recent step, the United States was the first to divide the world by not inviting many countries to the summit. Its malice against some countries was more than visible. That is why one of the critics of this summit observed that the event would rather initiate “confrontation around the world.” While Thailand was not invited to the event at all, the invitation to Taiwan was clearly intended to irritate China. China did vent its anger over it. Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng described the summit as a “blatant hegemonic coercion.” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin was more critical as she called the summit “a move against democratic spirit.” Russia, which, in reaction to the summit, asked its international partners not to engage in democratization, emphasized the need for “sovereign equality among states.” Even Israel and Egypt criticized the US move. There is no denying the fact that today, democracy faces real and critical challenges. The military take-over in Myanmar has encouraged many in Third World to follow the suit. The military junta in Myanmar may go ahead with its repressive tactics if the international fraternity continues to act as a silent spectator. There are many other countries in the world where authoritarian rule continues in the name of democracy. A true picture of these sham democracies needs to be brought to the notice of the world community. The most pressing need, however, is to take note of human rights abuses and freedom of expression under various pretexts. Post the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden has constantly demonstrated an aptitude to make the world more coherent and integrated. The calling of this Summit for Democracy is no doubt a good example of that. But he also needs to arrange a summit of major world powers, particularly the Russian and the Chinese Presidents, not only to chart out a mechanism to make the world a more harmonized and integrated place but also to give a message to world countries and authoritarian regimes that humanity now needs to come out of the blood-thirsty malevolent. The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad covering South Asia/ Central Asia.