US capitol building with police tape

Attack on US Capitol Lifts the Veil on the Model for World Democracy

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After losing out in the 2020 US presidential election, President Donald Trump has fought tooth and nail to cling on to power. The attack on US Capitol on Wednesday by hundreds of his supporters was the culmination of Trump and his allies’ weeks spent discrediting the election.

The violence and damage has been condemned by several world leaders forcing evacuation, leaving five people dead and a nation shocked.

“What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent; it’s disorder. And it must end, now,” President-elect Joe Biden said from The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Delaware. Quick to condemn Wednesday’s riot, Biden called the action an “insurrection” and urged Trump’s supporters to end the siege. “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are”, he continued. Doesn’t it, when this is exactly what has been advocated and engineered overseas?

Known as the only country with continuous democracy for more than 200 years, the United States has prided itself as a beacon of democracy and the rule of law. The US is one of the biggest critics of world leaders with other styles of government and those who don’t share the country’s view on governance.

A 2014 report suggested that US was involved in 134 wars, given the presence of its special operation forces in those countries. These include the unrest in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. One of its major reason for this action is trying to “promote democracy”. Unfortunately, this effort has left most of these countries in worse shape afterwards than they were before in their domination by the ‘world’s policeman’.

In Libya, for instance, thousands of people, including civilians, lost their lives and tens of thousands were displaced. The unrest led to the death of the country’s flamboyant leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. Its economy and security were also left in ruins, leaving the country in a decade-long struggle for recovery. The same can be said of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen.

While most people want democracy to thrive across the world, the involvement of the US and its impacts on many of these countries begs the question of whether they want the American version of it. The recent developments trailing the defeat of the outgoing US President Donald Trump has further put the country under a magnifying glass, with many questioning whether it practices what it preaches.

The Pro-Trump mob gathers outside the Capitol building on Wednesday [Image: The Guardian/Reuter, Leah Millis]

Wednesday’s events have drawn reactions from several US allies, all echoes of each other. The UK, Canada, and Germany’s leadership all spoke of the rules of democracy in the abstract. Angela Merkel, outgoing Chancellor of Germany stated ‘winners and losers, both have to play their role with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner.’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted that Canadians were ‘deeply saddened’ and ‘Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be.’ UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted ‘The United States stands for democracy around the world,’. The PM said it was ‘vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power’, despite staying largely quiet on his actions over the last four years.

These comments are stark reminders of the importance of the continuance of ‘government’ and ‘state’ power. Distancing from mentioning Donald Trump the man, and condemning the violence of individuals, allows them to preserve ideals rather than talking about what led to them and the hypocrisy at the heart of American policy at home and abroad.

Non-allies of the US were quick to point this out, however. Many of these countries have been under US-imposed sanctions for violence against protestors or crackdowns on any opposition.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday referred to Trump as a ‘sick person’ who had disgraced his own country. ‘What happened in the US shows how fragile Western democracy is,’ he said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned its citizens to be wary of potential further violence. “We believe that the US will overcome this domestic political crisis in maturity. We recommend that our citizens in the USA stay away from crowded places and places where shows are held.”

Pro-Trump supporters entering the Capitol building, many brandishing flags and far-right slogans [Image: Getty, Win McNamee]

While Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has always opposed American “unilateralism” as the world’s leader hasn’t made any comment on the chaotic developments, some of his lawmakers couldn’t hold back.

‘The celebration of democracy is over’ the chairman of the Russian upper house of foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook Thursday. ‘America no longer defines the course and therefore, has lost all right to set it. And even more so to impose it on others.’ Leonid Slutsky, Russia’s foreign affairs chief stated the ‘boomerang of colour revolutions has turned on the United States’, citing the countries support of uprisings in Ukraine.

When Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people in his Gettysburg Address in 1863, not in his wildest imagination would he have thought that the same democracy would one day be considered to be under threat in his own country.

Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Democrat candidate Joe Biden by a wide margin – 81,281,888 to 74,223,251 and 306 to 232 electoral college votes. The election saw some of the traditional Republican strongholds, including Georgia, turn from red to blue.

Unsatisfied by the result, Trump raised several allegations of election rigging, prompting his supporters to embark on protests. He and his supporters also lost more than 50 lawsuits seeking to overturn the election result, due to lack of evidence.

On Wednesday, January 6, President Trump had pressured his vice Mike Pence to overturn the results while presiding on a joint session of Congress to certify the election. “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, because if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country, because you have sworn to uphold the Constitution,” Trump said while speaking to a large crowd of supporters outside the White House.

He was also caught on tape last weekend asking Georgia Secretary of States Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat.

President-Elect Joe Biden condemned the mob violence [Image: CNN video]

Developments trailing the November 2020 polls have considerably battered the image of the United States. The riot has led to the resignations of some government officials, including Education Secretary Besty DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Choa, the only two women in President Trump’s inner cabinet.

As more staff and government representatives seek to disassociate themselves from Trump and his policies, it remains to be seen if the Republican party can heal and what will be the fate of the country. Despite the deadly attack, Congress eventually resumed the session on Thursday morning to certify Biden’s victory, clearing the way for Biden to be sworn in on January 20.

How will the United States under Biden now lay its claim to being a world power? After years of decrying foreign oppression and potential threats, and the threat finally coming from the nation itself, the world will wait to see the President-Elect restore order or enact change.

[Header Image: Andy Feliciotti, Unsplash]