“No Motive for Arrogance”: Hard Love for America at Pro-Democracy Conference

Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Prime Minister from 2015 to 2018, replied: “We are”, when asked in an interview if the allies are worried about the United States.

“The United States is by far the most important of the Western democracies. … We all have a vested interest in the health of American democracy. So yes, I think that’s a real concern, ”he said.

A bipartisan group of six senators in attendance – three Republicans and three Democrats – will now carry the message they’ve heard loud and clear to Washington, where the hyperpartisan is already jeopardizing top national security priorities as threats emanating from the great powers have crystallized.

“I feel like there is no reason to be arrogant. Sometimes a little humility actually allows you to build better relationships with other nations because we’re not really able to lecture, ”said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), member of the Senate for Foreign Relations and Armed Services. committees, said in an interview. “We are able to dialogue, share experiences, share best practices, recognize areas in which we need to work together. “

“We can’t really go and lecture” other countries about political turmoil and corruption, Kaine added. “But it actually sometimes means the conversations are more candid and a little more authentic and a little more productive.”

This year was the conference’s first gathering since Donald Trump stepped down, and Biden took over with a renewed commitment to building the strategic alliances his predecessor often avoided. It was supposed to be an exit party for the United States after four years of Trump’s anti-democratic measures rocking the allies. But in the 10 months since Biden took office, the United States has faced cascading crises at home and abroad that have caused Western allies to question the promises of the United States. ‘America.

One of the main goals of the three-day conference was the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, which many foreign officials here saw as a betrayal of Washington’s commitment to the country’s struggling democracy. Sabrina Saqeb, former member of the Afghan parliament, told an audience: “We have been sold to terrorists.

“Members of our delegation recognize that the United States has let down its partners in a number of aspects,” including in Afghanistan, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), member of the Armed Services Committee and veteran , said in an interview. She added that the United States must work to “live up to our commitments”.

Some of these crises have been brought up organically by lawmakers themselves. During the panels, Kaine and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) Spoke about the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill and its impact on American democracy. Specifically, Kaine said the United States has a problem with its “immune system,” which he called America’s ability – or lack of it – to respond to pressures on its democracy.

Coons, meanwhile, said the best way for the United States to counter China’s escalating predatory behavior – a major focus of the conference – is to “take decisive action to heal our own democracy.” He said the January 6 attack “emboldened Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, autocrats around the world, those who wish us harm.”

“Heads of state or foreign relations ministers of other countries often raise concerns about the state of our democracy and the impact on them of January 6,” Coons said in an interview. “So I think it’s very appropriate to talk about it, and I frankly think there’s a lot more specific work that we need to do to strengthen our civic culture.”

Turnbull, the former Australian Prime Minister, strongly agrees. Disinformation and extremism on the American right “led to the attack on Capitol Hill. This led to an attempted coup, ”he said. “The rest of the world watched Jan. 6 and was shattered.”

“When you see the absolute essential foundations of democracy being challenged from within, and when you see a political party, the Republican Party – not all, but many of them – challenging the constitutional institutions on which this great democracy of well over two centuries depends, which is what really undermines the international public confidence in American democracy, ”continued Turnbull.

Some also expressed doubts that the United States would act to stop the aggressive actions of the autocrats, namely the gathering of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.

Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, said in an interview that the West – led by the United States – must send more “deadly defensive weapons” to his country, push Ukraine to become member of NATO, reverse its position on the Nord Stream 2 Russia-Germany pipeline, and target Moscow with tougher sanctions. If the United States and its allies fail to take these steps, it will “increase the likelihood” of Putin launching a second major incursion from neighbor Russia.

Europeans are also increasingly concerned that the American shift to the Indo-Pacific, and competition with China in the region, will take Washington’s gaze away from Europe.

The idea of ​​an emerging “strategic autonomy”, though still ill-defined, has taken hold in NATO deliberations on how to deter and contain Russia.

“I think strategic autonomy is about the fact that in Europe there must be more military capabilities available which are now only available in the United States,” said Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, head of the NATO Military Committee and the highest ranking officer in the alliance. military officer, told a small group of reporters on the sidelines of the event.

“If European nations and Canada are able to take on some of the roles that only the United States can now take due to its capabilities, then the United States would be able to prioritize and do more in the Indo-Pacific, ”Bauer said.

Senators will now return to Washington after the Thanksgiving recess with several urgent agenda items.

Congress is already at risk of failing to pass a defense licensing bill for the first time in six decades – a concern that foreign counterparts have expressed directly to lawmakers here. And Senate leaders are hoping to confirm Biden’s diplomatic candidates who have been the subject of a GOP-led blockade that prevents more than 50 nominations from being promptly confirmed.

Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, was asked about the blockade here and said he was working to break it, adding, “I was governor. I understand that you must have a team in place to govern.

Lawmakers were particularly concerned about the perception that they are unable to work together to help solve pressing problems. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), who co-led the Senate delegation alongside Risch, said there were “legitimate questions based on what people read” about the tensions between Republicans and Democrats in Washington .

“We haven’t seen anyone for almost two years,” Shaheen said in a brief interview. “And so I think it’s not unexpected.”

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