Biden’s Democracy Summit, Russia’s Military Buildup and More

Biden’s Democracy Summit, Russia’s Military Buildup and More
President Joe Biden speaks from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex for the opening of the Summit for Democracy, Washington, Dec. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Hi, everybody. I’m Judah Grunstein, WPR’s editor-in-chief, and this is our Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, recapping the highlights from our coverage this week and previewing what we have planned for next week.

Two major stories dominated the news this week, both putting U.S. President Joe Biden in the spotlight. The first is his Summit for Democracy, a two-day virtual gathering of leaders from 100 countries that began Thursday and will focus on promoting human rights, resisting authoritarianism and fighting corruption. The second is the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe due to a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine amid reports of a planned Russian invasion. Both highlight the challenges Biden will face as he tries to act on the foreign policy themes he campaigned on during the 2020 presidential election.

The Summit for Democracy represents the fulfillment of a campaign promise Biden made to hold such a gathering in the first year of his presidency. It underscores a narrative Biden has emphasized as a foundational principle of his foreign policy, what he sees as a global battle between democracy and authoritarianism. Biden has embedded this clash of governance systems and the values they represent into his approach to great power competition with China and Russia, as well as to U.S. partners—at least rhetorically.

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