PARIS (AP) – For both America’s allies and rivals, the chaos unfolding during Donald Trump’s last days as president is the logical result of four years of global instability evoked by the man who promised to change the way the world viewed the United States. on.
From the outside, the United States has never looked so vulnerable – or unpredictable.
Alliances that had lasted for generations flared to a breaking point under Trump – from his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and Iran̵
And then, by trying to overturn his loss to Joe Biden, Trump asserted the bedrock principle of democratic elections that the United States has tried – and sometimes even succeeded – in exporting around the world. How long these aftershocks could last is unclear.
“It is one of the greatest tasks of the future for America and Europe – to combat the polarization of society at its roots,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “We will only be able to maintain the belief in cohesion, in democracy as the most humane form of statehood and the belief in science and reason, if we do it together.”
But in many ways, Europe has already moved on, continuing the agreement with Iran, negotiating a trade agreement with China at the head of Germany and organizing global actions to protect the environment.
That same day, an angry mob stormed the Capitol to try to overthrow the presidential election won by Biden, a record number of Americans died of coronavirus. Another recent event also showed American vulnerability: the cyber espionage operation, which is still working its way through a myriad of government computers and blaming Russian elite hackers.
World leaders who saw the deadly violence in Washington “will have to consider whether these events are a major event – a ‘black swan’ – or whether these extremist white supremacist groups will continue to make a significant impact. about the direction of U.S. foreign and domestic policy instead of retiring with the end of the Trump administration, ”Soufan Group, a global intelligence and security firm, wrote on Tuesday.
People tend to think of fragile countries “in terms of war as the biggest problem rather than violence, and think in terms of state collapse as the biggest problem rather than states that dissolve internally,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, a researcher in democracy and violence. at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Kleinfeld, like many others, said that the attack on the American Capitol may have come to a head in a few weeks, but that it is years in the making.
And America’s capacity to fight for democracy was already tarnished before the mob, egged on by Trump, tried to topple its election loss. For many, these events were just a confirmation.
Opponents including Russia, China and Iran used the violence to question American democracy more generally.
In an internal note on the Foreign Ministry’s “disagreement channel” obtained by the Associated Press, U.S. diplomats said Trump’s actions had made their jobs harder. “It is crucial that we communicate to the world that in our system there is no one – not even the president – above the law or immune from public criticism,” the note said. “This would be a first step towards repairing the damage to our international credibility.”
Trump, however, showed no contradiction, saying Tuesday that his ardent rally comments to supporters were “perfectly appropriate.”
In Iraq, a country still struggling with the controversial legacy of a US-led invasion in the name of democracy, many people followed the events in Washington with a mixture of shock and fascination.
The then US President George W. Bush boasted that Iraq would become a model for democracy in a region ruled by dictators. Instead, the country fell into protracted war between Sunnis and Shia Muslims, in which tens of thousands of people died. Although it has an active parliament and regular elections, it is a dysfunctional democracy based on a sectarian distribution of power agreement, with corrupt parties talking about ministries and positions so they can give jobs to supporters while putting their own pockets.
Ahmad al-Helfi, a 39-year-old Iraqi political cartoonist, said what happened at the US Capitol is a blow to the democracy it was trying to bring to Iraq and other countries.
“By mobilizing his supporters in an attempt to overthrow the election results, Trump confirmed that instead of exporting democracy to Iraq, America imported the chaos, the non-peaceful transfer of power and the lack of acceptance of the election results,” al-Helfi said.
Anahita Thoms, a German lawyer and trade expert who spent years living and working in the United States, said last week’s events would indelibly mark America’s image abroad. Thoms is a board member of Atlantic Bridge, a think tank that promotes cooperation between Europe and the United States – the kind of organization that was founded in the wake of World War II, when the United States helped rebuild the economies of many Western European countries that had been destroyed by the war. .
Germany was a country that benefited most from these US financial and democracy-building efforts.
Looking ahead, she said U.S. officials may have a harder time promoting democracy abroad.
“The United States remains a country that lives up to its democratic values. But this ambition, which is presented very strongly to the outside world, must not get too many cracks, ”said Thoms. “I think a lot of diplomatic skills will be needed to counter these images.”
The International Crisis Group, which usually focuses on global war zones, wrote its first ever assessment of the risk of election-related violence in the United States in October. Stephen Pomper, who helped lead the work on the report and lives in the DC area, said under the best of circumstances that the United States could eventually point to Congress’ decision to resume certification of Biden’s election after the violation as a first step in successfully protecting its democracy.
“Look, we created these institutions. They became a source of resilience for us. They helped us get through this very difficult period. Let us help you develop the same kind of resilience, ”he said, describing a hypothetical future conversation between the United States and a struggling government. “It would be a positive story to be able to tell at some point, but I don’t think the pieces are quite there yet.”
Pope Francis was more optimistic and told the Italian television station Mediaset: “Thank God it exploded” openly because “we have been able to see why this is and how it can be remedied.”
Associated Press authors Kirsten Grieshaber and Frank Jordans in Berlin, Abdulrahman Zeyad in Baghdad, Matt Lee in Washington; and Frank Bajak of Boston contributed.