US President Donald Trump at a Security Council meeting. Credit: United NationsUNITED NATIONS, Jan. 8 (IPS) – The storm of Capitol Hill in Washington DC by an unruly mob is reminiscent of a riot in a “banana republic” – as hilariously portrayed in the 1971 Woody Allen comedy “Bananas” a riot in a fictional Latin American country.
However, given President Trump’s disastrous four-year tenure, such a description is an insult to all banana republics.
Trump’s presidency was marked by bad government, corruption, lies, xenophobia, nepotism, arrogance and ultimately contempt for the country’s democratic electoral process.
America has long been the world’s self-proclaimed policeman who ousted dictatorships and overthrew authoritarian regimes (read: Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan), who upheld human rights and preached peace – even when he sold millions of arms to conflict-ridden countries.
As the New York Times pointed out, what happened in Washington DC was “one of the heaviest incursions into the Capitol” since the British invasion during the War of 1812 when it burned down.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who had long criticized Trump inside his own political party, expressed his denunciation in one sentence: “What happened here today was a rebellion instigated by the President of the United States.”
As the Cable News Network (CNN) pointed out, a growing number of Republican leaders and cabinet officials believe Trump should be removed from office before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, even if that means the 25th Amendment is in effect made or Trump is excluded from participation again office.
The 25th amendment to the US Constitution provides procedures for the replacement of a president or vice president in the event of death, recall, resignation, or incapacity for work.
Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, told IPS the shocking spectacle of the mob attack on the seat of the American government with the apparent encouragement of the president and efforts of some Republican congressmen to block the certification of the electoral college shows that a significant faction of the conservative movement in the United States has become explicitly anti-democratic.
“While events on Wednesday are likely to backfire politically, it serves as a warning that there are real authoritarian tendencies in this country, led by people willing to use force to take power.”
Despite clear signs that there would be a serious attempt to storm the Capitol, security was minimal and the Capitol police force was quickly overrun, he added.
This contrasts with the massive and intimidating troop presence around the Capitol and other government buildings during the largely non-violent protests for racial justice last spring, despite the lack of such realistic threats.
This poses serious problems related to racism and ideological bias in politics and related security measures in Washington, Zunes said.
He pointed out that the shock and dismay over Trump’s support for a de facto coup and his general authoritarian tendencies are well founded.
At the same time, it must be recognized that the presidential administrations and the leaders of the Congress of both parties have long supported autocratic regimes and armies of occupation elsewhere through arms transfers and other security measures. Indeed, the United States is the world’s greatest supporter of such anti-democratic governments. ”
Support for democracy should not stop at the water’s edge. “If Americans are serious about defending democratic institutions, we must apply such principles to our foreign policy too.”
The protesters on Capitol Hill have been largely described as right-wing extremists and white supremacists who are ardent supporters of Trump. At least four died in hand-to-hand combat.
Meanwhile, some of the US allies in Europe, including France, Germany and the UK, have expressed shock and revulsion at the insurrection in one of the world’s “model democracies”.
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, professor of international relations at New York University’s (NYU) Center for Global Affairs, told IPS that Wednesday January 6th is a day that will live on in shame. A day on which the President of the United States called on a mob to storm the nation’s capital, on which Trump perpetuated lies and falsehoods about the elections to denounce his betrayal of the country, the constitution, his office and the foundations of this democracy to justify republic.
He said the world watched in horror as the far-right crowd managed to breach security and successfully enter the Capitol. Apparently the violent demonstrators were not repulsed with adequate force or they would never have found their way.
“Had the mob been made up of left-wing agitators instead, black and brown bodies instead of white bodies, the news would be very different – in fact, it would be more than likely that the protesters would never have made it, if that had been the case at all inside, let alone stay there for more than four hours ”.
Perhaps most shameful beyond Trump’s cynical and selfish incitement is his silence while the mob roamed the Capitol while senators and officials hid until it was safe to return to finish the day’s deal, Ben-Meir said .
When he finally made a statement, it was far from a full condemnation of the chaos and violence that had consumed the nation’s temple of democracy. Rather, he urged the rioters to return home, adding, ‘We love you “- after repeating his false claim that the election was stolen.
In a word, said Ben-Meir, Trump was trying to justify the insurgents, and the reason for this is obvious: he wants to sow as much violence and discord as possible before inauguration.
That way he can point out the unrest and say, “See, this is what happens when you steal an election.” It doesn’t matter that it was just Trump and his fringe supporters who tried to steal an election, and to the credit of this still great nation that has utterly and utterly failed, he explained.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary general was “saddened by what happened in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday”.
In such circumstances, he said: “It is important that political leaders demonstrate to their supporters the need not to use violence and to respect democratic processes and the rule of law. ”
In a statement from Geneva, UN Human Rights Representative Michelle Bachelet said: “We are deeply concerned about the attack on the US Capitol on Wednesday, which clearly shows the devastating effects of continued, deliberate political misrepresentation of facts and incitement to violence and hatred Leader shows ”.
She said allegations of electoral fraud were made in order to undermine the right to political participation. We are encouraged to see that despite serious attempts to disrupt it, the process has continued.
“We call on leaders across the political spectrum, including the President of the United States, to deny false and dangerous narratives and to encourage their followers to do so,” she added.
“We are dismayed to learn that media professionals faced serious threats and property damage yesterday. We support calls from many quarters for a thorough investigation into what happened on Wednesday, ”said Bachelet
In a summary, Ben-Meir said Trump used the power of his office to dismantle everything President Obama achieved and that he stopped at nothing to delegitimize President-elect Biden’s victory.
“All I can say is that you are eating your heart out, Mr. Trump. Obama left the presidency after completing two terms in honor and dignity and with the Nobel Peace Prize. And Trump will leave his post as indicted president with a term that will live in shame. ”
The Democratic leadership, with the few Republicans advocating the rule of law and not bowing to Trump’s whims, should immediately push for either impeachment or the appeal of the 25th amendment to oust Trump from office and prevent him from ever to issue a formal position statement again, he stated.
Follow the IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram
(2021) – All rights reserved