There is no doubt that the storming of the Capitol Building in Washington DC by supporters of President Donald Trump, which was witnessed live across the world, was unprecedented in the most powerful country in the world. The United States of America is a country of institutions, law and democracy. Politicians and journalists lamented the assault and wondered if they were in a third world country, as if they were mourning US democracy.
The mob in Washington stunned the world. How were protesters able to climb the walls of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the most sacred democratic institutions in America? The vandalism and looting that ensued was straight out of a third world playbook, where leaders are changed through coups, not the ballot box.
In the circumstances, it is worth asking who made the third world the way that it is; who introduced military coups as a way to impose Washington-friendly tyrants? America has a place in the annals of infamy for its role in numerous coups around the world. Now its spokespeople are claiming that the US has hit rock bottom.
America has not endured a non-compliant ruler elected through the ballot box for more than four years, and has imposed and sustained tyrants across the third world for decades. Each one hands the reins to another, forcing the people to live in constant oppression and injustice, with America's blessing.
The US has gone against the will of the people and their freedom. It has no right to insult us and ridicule our world, for it is now our turn to mock the global superpower and remind those on Capitol Hill that what goes around comes around.
Despite the poor tactics and direction of the assault on the Capitol, it was not a coup in the real sense of the word, but temporary chaos that was controlled relatively quickly before the democratic process carried on as usual. Neither the armed forces nor any other security agency intervened on either side, and this raises several questions. Why weren't the security forces in place in advance ready to deal forcefully with the demonstrators? That's what happened when the Black Lives Matter protests took to the streets of the Capitol last year after George Floyd was choked to death under the knee of a white police officer. If those who stormed the Capitol Building last Wednesday had been predominantly black, would such restraint have been shown? Would there have only been five people killed?
BLM activists have pointed to the bias of the security agencies towards the pro-Trump rioters which allowed them to enter and ransack offices within the Capitol, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump ordered harsh measures against the anti-racism movement which, bizarrely, some of his supporters around the US are now blaming for last Wednesday's debacle.
The FBI, armed forces, security and intelligence agencies, as well as the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Departments all knew that Trump-supporters planned to head to the Capitol Building last week in a bid to prevent Congress from certifying the election results and declaring Joe Biden's victory. The president himself had urged his supporters to do so, but no extra precautions were taken to protect the bastion of democracy in America.
Was this an error, or a deliberate ploy? Was it meant to burn Trump's last remaining cards by showing the world a president who wants to destroy all the values and principles on which the US was founded by sparking a civil war? It is odd that the government institutions and agencies that allowed these mob scenes, which the American media broadcast widely, are the same institutions and agencies that ended the chaos relatively easily.
Cameras focused on protesters carrying Confederate flags and some carrying Israeli flags; and one Trump supporter sitting with his feet on Pelosi's desk. "Kill the media" was scrawled on one of the doors. Trump has, of course, typically railed against critical media for the past four years. The disregard for open democracy was clear. The reason for the apparent support for Israel from these right-wing thugs was exposed by the "Camp Auschwitz" and "6MWE" ("6 million [Jews killed in the Holocaust] wasn't enough") t-shirts, which reminded us that the far-right doesn't support Israel out of a love for the Jewish people, but because of Evangelical Christian beliefs in the end days and "The Rapture".
Was it Trump's narcissism and arrogance that prompted him to incite his supporters to commit this crazy act as he continues to question the presidential election result and believes that he won? It is true that 75 million American citizens voted for him, more than did so in 2016, and the most that a losing candidate has ever had in America. The vast majority of those voters were white, harbouring contempt, if not hatred, for other races. They believe shamelessly in the supremacy of the white race, and that America belongs to them alone, while the others are not worthy of equality and political rights. This ugly racism has been fuelled by Trump since his 2016 election campaign with the slogan "Make American Great Again" — a euphemism for white supremacy — as he sought the populist vote.
This has created a deep rift in American society, reviving racial tensions and enough to prompt talk of another civil war. The people behind the white militias have been backed by Trump and have been seen on US streets increasingly during his presidency. The attack on the Capitol was another manifestation of this, and if wise and rational individuals on both sides do not pay attention to the seriousness of the slippery slope onto which America is mounting then the once unthinkable Civil War II could result.
Trump is unrepentant and is still addressing his audience in the same populist language: "Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it's only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!"
Critics, including President-elect Biden, call him "the most incompetent president in US history", but he believes that he is coming to the end of the "greatest first term" ever. So Trump has basically declared war, and regardless of what shape that will take, he will not give up. He refuses to accept the result and his supporters can be relied on to create a serious threat to the established order in the US.
Twitter has permanently suspended Trump's account due to the risk of further incitement to violence. Suggestions are that more armed protests are planned, including another attack on the Capitol Building before Biden's inauguration day.
Trump feels betrayed by those around him, including Vice President Mike Pence because he refused to use his position as head of the Senate to obstruct the confirmation of the election result. The outgoing president has attacked the Supreme Court judges known to be "his" judges, because they did not go against the Constitution and declare Biden's victory null and void.
Far from making "America Great Again", Trump has done his country a great disservice. His almost childish refusal to accept his defeat, and the dangerous games that he is playing with other people's lives, have dealt a powerful blow to the image of the United States as a great democracy. Nevertheless, did Trump burn himself, or is he the victim of the deep state in Washington which has had enough of his incompetence? Either way, America is facing difficult times which may have an impact on each and every one of us.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.