As we head towards the end of the year, it is most probably charitable to say that the free world has a, at best, shaky hold on freedom.

Witness the freedoms still being denied Australians, proving the validity of George Orwell’s observation, “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it”; and remember, it was also George Orwell who said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Yet here we are in an alleged democracy, where Australians are genuinely frightened to say what they think.

How much is this going to be improved by the cognitively deficient, Joe Biden, calling for a Summit for Democracy next week, December 9 and 10.

Far from reducing tensions within the democracies, this looks likely to worsen what is already a fragile geopolitical environment.

Why would the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia be invited, and not Singapore or Thailand?

Why would India and Pakistan make the cut, but not Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, South Asia’s oldest democracy.

Here is China surveying its prospects of expansion in the Indo-Pacific and Biden is splitting up the same geographical region in the most arbitrary way.

As the Rand Corporation’s Derrick Grossman said, the Biden Administration “basically blew up its Indo-Pacific strategy overnight”.

It is not a tiresome question but does Biden even know what he said last week?

He recently told South-East Asian allies that the US-ASEAN relationship was vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific; yet now he has called a Summit for Democracy and excludes two-thirds of the ASEAN members.

But what does a summit for democracy mean when some nations on the list pay lip service to the concept ignoring festering corruption and human rights abuses.

Biden is emerging as a dangerous player with the left clearly in the ascendent.

Singapore and Thailand have been both security partners and regional allies of America and are excluded.
And what of China?

Biden has invited Taiwan, a move welcomed in Taipei while China has said it is preparing to sanction any Taiwanese who supports formal independence for Taiwan.

A spokeswoman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office has said, “we will punish them in accordance with the law”.

Of course, Taiwanese are overwhelmingly opposed to being governed by Beijing; but China’s Xi sees Taiwan as unfinished business from a more than 70-year-old civil war.

Simply, on the question of freedom and democracy, it’s not clear what Biden seeks from such a Summit.

Reportedly, it will be about defending democracies from authoritarianism while discussing how to reduce corruption and promote respect for human rights.

How any of these goals are achieved by a President calling a Summit which splits Asia when some of the excluded countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are now being wooed by Beijing.

No wonder the Democratic Party itself, following its defeat in the Virginia’s Governor’s election has admitted it is a “weak national brand” that is not doing “anything to address the big issues”.

If one of the big issues is dealing with China, one wonders what Biden’s so-called Summit for Democracy is likely to achieve when Biden, as I said, snubs two thirds of the ASEAN membership from next week’s gathering.

This is the price you pay when the leader of the free world most probably can’t remember what day it is; and his public utterances prove it.

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