The unprecedented manifestations of violence against the Capitol building in Washington added fuel to flames of the enemies of democracy around the world, from Russia to China, Iran, Venezuela and Turkey, as their leaders raced to score points against the US, ignoring their own countries’ violations of human rights and liberties.
When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed faux concern about the “weak and fragile” Western democracy, clearly to underscore the greatness of the Iranian regime, he conveniently forgot that this same regime excluded half of the candidates in recent elections, most of whom were reformists and conservatives, and that the turnout was the lowest since the establishment of the Islamic Republic due to waning Iranian confidence in the elections and their results. The downplaying of the scale of the pandemic by authorities was not enough to encourage the Iranians to go to the polls.
And when the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, expressed his concern for the US Congress, describing what happened as a “very dangerous” incident “not to be taken lightly,” the Lebanese reminded him that what happened in the corridors of the Capitol was nothing but a mild round of the response of the “resistance” last year to the demonstrators in Beirut public squares and bridges.
As for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under whose rule Turkey set a record for imprisoning journalists and political activists and silencing dissenting voices, he not only gave advice to the US, but extended it to the West in general, mentioning France and calling for self-criticism regarding democracy, freedoms and rights!
On the day that American democracy was shaken, it is not surprising that Erdogan, Rouhani, Nasrallah, Putin, and others rush to attack it. Although the US quickly restored balance and order to what the anarchists attempted to destroy, by approving the election results before dawn on Thursday, the enemies of elections in general will exploit these events every time their people dare raise their voice against fraud and corruption.
The “concern” of these leaders affects neither the outgoing president nor the incoming one who takes office on January 20. However, what happened on Wednesday should be a wake-up call for a superpower that, for many people, is still a dream country.
The events in Washington will reverberate for a long time in American politics. Not only will they be Trump's most significant legacy, but will also affect perceptions of the strength of American democracy around the world.
There is a broad consensus that the “invasion” of Congress is a disgrace to America and the final undoing of a president gone astray, but it is only the latest in a series of flaws in the long-standing American electoral tradition.
Years ago, money began to play a big role in the American election campaigns, and the populist forces hostile to liberal democracy rose to prominence.
And in the White House, we saw a president saying that if he loses the elections, it will be because of fraud. He talked about stolen vote boxes and incited violence to reverse the results of the election he lost. Worryingly, a poll conducted during the congressional attack showed that 45 percent of Republican voters supported the riot, compared to 43 percent who opposed it.
It is not surprising that Trump's term would end in such violent chaos. The last four years set many new precedents for the White House and for an American president who ran his election campaign on the slogan “Make America Great Again” only to end up humiliating the country and himself. However, what this end has revealed will certainly be worrying to real democracies around the world, while we can expect more false concern from the enemies and opponents of freedom.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Lebanese news outlet Annahar al-Arabi.