The United States’ notoriously cantankerous foreign policy is once again resetting global peace and harmony back to tenterhooks with mischievous efforts that’ll lead to a divided world.

On December 9 and 10, the Biden administration will be hosting a very controversial so-called “Summit for Democracy” wherein some 110 countries have been invited.

But the main attraction to this developing story is who has Washington elected not to invite to the summit where the main purpose is purported to be “renewing shared purpose” and to help stop “democratic backsliding and erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide”.

Notably, and perhaps most curiously, the US has not invited China and Russia to the summit. Also snubbed are Turkey and Singapore, both influential powerhouses in their regions. In Asia, the US has also adopted a peculiar pick-and-choose approach. For example, Bangladesh has been ignored ahead of the invited Pakistan, and so is Sri Lanka snubbed but neighbouring India will attend the virtual summit. It was unclear what criteria the US has used in determining the participants. But so far the invite seems to be a certificate of approval of some sort. And, if indeed the certificate is more important than the summit, the hand-picked “democratic states” could prove to be a big meaningless virtual gathering.

Writing in the Global Times, Yury Tavrosky, head of Russia Dream-Chinese Dream analytic centre of the Izborsk Club, minced no words as he opined: “Only a blind person cannot see that this summit, first and foremost, aims at China, at its successful development, and at its ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ model. This, in turn, is only a packaging for the creation of several new trade and military blocs with the further aim of uniting them into a global chain for containment and encirclement of China.”

More than any other country on earth, China single-handedly threatens America’s unipolar position that it has occupied since the end of the Cold War. For far too long the US has basked under the glory of being described by international relations scholars as the “world’s only remaining superpower” in the post-Cold War era. The description has seen one US administration after the other abuse its powerful global status by venturing into acts such as unilateral imposition of punitive economic sanctions against opponents. In the latter days, America’s penchant to invade sovereign states and implement its regime-change agenda has dominated international news and left in its wake destruction and death. International relations literature is littered with examples of America’s dangerous unilateral foreign policy that Donald Trump referred to as “Make America Great Again”.

Incumbent White House occupant, President Joe Biden, has done very little to veer off from Trump’s “my way or the high-way” attitude, except to alter only his public posture commensurate with a career politician. Since ascending to the Oval Office just over a year ago President Biden has campaigned to reposition the US as the welcome return of the leader of the Free World. His sly and cunningly antagonistic foreign policy is laced with pretentious utterances of diplomatic engagement. Yet, beneath the surface, it is very clear he has dressed up unilateralism to shield it from global scrutiny and condemnation.

Global economists and socio-political scientists unanimously agree that in the not-so-distant future China is destined to overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy. It is this threat that the US under Donald Trump and now President Joe Biden seeks to counter “with a little help of my friends” from the 110 invited nations to a summit that raises more questions than answers.

But then again, America hardly ever goes to war alone. It only causes wars alone, but typically drags vulnerable allies into the bloody mess. For example, when US President George W Bush decided to invade Iraq and oust its leader Saddam Hussein in 2003, with the little help from Britain’s then Prime Minister Tony Blair, they cobbled up what they termed a “Coalition of the Willing” after unsavoury done-in-the-dark deals to rope in gullible leaders in exchange for economic rewards and political protection.

Also, during the Korean War of 1950-53, Washington assembled troops from 15 nations to fight on the side of the US army. And again, during the Vietnam War of 1965-73, America managed to rope in eight other nations to enlist their national armies to fight on the side of the US. There is a school of thought that argues the “Summit for Democracy” is an endeavour to establish a kind of “anti-China International” to fight back the rapidly-growing impact and influence of Beijing around the world, which serves to disrupt impactful unipolar authority of the US over the international community.

Inside Washington’s surreptitious agenda against China lies Russia which falls within the US’s geopolitical catchment target. Russia’s economic decline in the advent of the end of the Cold War has resulted in less headache for the US. “They can’t fight when they cannot feed their own”, is the widely-held logic in Washington’s diplomatic circles.

The Biden administration’s foreign policy advisers are pretty much aware of the waning influence of America on the international stage. Apart from the well-documented diplomatic shortfalls and blunders over the years, America’s recent grand fiasco in Afghanistan has left many nations wondering if at all it is still worth depending on the so-called leader of the Free World. Twenty years after turning Afghanistan’s population’s way-of-life upside down in an attempt to westernise, nay, civilize the south Asian nation, the US left millions of “converted” Afghans in a lurch and at the mercy of the traditionalist Taliban administration. It was a war the US lost in full glare of the international community. As part of punishment to the Taliban, the US forces reportedly fled out of Kabul international airport with bags filled with an astronomical amount of cash, leaving behind a bankrupt new regime. They also destroyed everything they could find a moment to dismantle and leave dysfunctional, including the vehicles that they left behind in haste and fright. That is the legacy of the US foreign policy: If you can’t forcefully “liberate” the invaded nation, simply cut and run, and leave behind untold misery. And then, no wonder in the eyes of the international community, more and more countries are losing faith in the stumbling and unreliable leader of the Free World.

Under President Biden, the US is attempting to salvage whatever is left of their battered image and declining influence. Hence, the Summit for Democracy. Only the Americans have set the agenda. More than a hundred heads of state, including our own President Cyril Ramaphosa, are set to attend the two-day Big Brother’s session to win them over in a rapidly-changing international order that appears more and more illiberal.

My guess is that the poor heads of state are going to be lied to about how special each one of them is. They will be promised loads of money in developmental funding and assured of Big Brother’s protection against the “bullies” – China and Russia. It’s a desperate strategy, fraught with moral bankruptcy and lacking universal legitimacy. After Trump’s four years of inward-looking, the Biden administration is trying to make for lost time and space abroad.

Methinks the Summit for Democracy is set for a spectacular failure. The world has changed drastically since the waning years of the US singular domination of the international agenda and programme of action.

The reality is that today, Russia is ever so ready for conflict with the US. Apart from the Kremlin’s authorisation of massive military drills on the border with pro-Western Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has also activated his country’s nuclear state of readiness in response to NATO’s regular drills on Russia’s doorstep.

As for China, more and more countries – developed and developing – are staking their current and future welfare on economic ties with President Xi Jinping’s flourishing country. No regime in its right mind, no matter how flattered by Washington, will fall for adversarial relations with China. This is because such a posture will be tantamount to economic self-harm.

If the developers of the summit idea thought the US could galvanize a large section of the international community against China and Russia akin to the Cold War, I bet that was a huge miscalculation. Russia and China never embark on regime change against their opponents or invade sovereign territories. They preach and practise multilateralism.

In addition, there is more bad news for the US: Russia refuses to be lured into any form of the anti-Chinese bloc. In fact, bilateral relations between Moscow and Beijing are at their best in decades. The two have recently issued a rare joint communique criticising the imminent summit.  But even more importantly, China and Russia are on the brink of officially announcing a military-political alliance.

Now, no summit can stop the two nuclear powers from pursuing their brand of rule that bears the hallmarks of both Russian and Chinese characteristics respectively. An exasperated Russia is no good for world peace. And the rise of China is our new reality. The US must learn to live with it in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence and conviviality. Period.