The Financial Express

Acid test for American democracy

An explosion caused by a police munitions at the Capitol Building in the United States on January 6 –Reuters file photo An explosion caused by a police munitions at the Capitol Building in the United States on January 6 –Reuters file photo

Time hasn't yet arrived to portray the ugly violence targeting the US Capitol on January 6 as even the first nail driven on the coffin of American democracy. The institution is too great and strong to crumble down in the face of an hours-long mayhem on the soil on which democracy has been nurtured for four centuries. But the whole episode on that day was atrocious. Dust has settled down for now. But ominous signs are there; a blind and deaf genie has been incited to come out of the bottle in the shape of a wild mob. Once out, the blind demonic force will make attempts to stage comebacks. There lies the fear. To the wise people, the assault on the Capitol, the revered edifice and the symbol of the American ethos, and that of its democracy, could indeed be interpreted as a dread. The sad aspect of the whole episode is the US as we knew before the frenzied mob attack on the Capitol, may not be the same in the coming days. The ugly incident will stay on in the conscience of the otherwise great nation as the dead albatross around the neck of the ancient mariner.

For years, decades and centuries to come, the Americans --- along with peoples elsewhere in the world, will observe the day as the darkest moment in that nation's modern history. The shocking elements latent in the occurrence may have surpassed those present in the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln, and President John F. Kennedy. On some counts, it has also surpassed the Watergate scandal.

The doomsters may have begun drafting their arguments in favour of predictions about the eventual decline of the spirit of the US democracy. Some of their points might prove strong and irrefutable. It's because in the late 20th century, a number of administrative dark horses have caused much damage to this multi-racial nation. Those were prompted by their escapades in the form of remedial campaigns, dispatching occupation forces to sovereign nations in the name of reviving democracy but, finally, expediting their descent into decades-long anarchy. There are few signs of these strife-torn countries' return to any semblance of democratic system. The process, however, began in the mid-1950s with the US being stuck in the Vietnam quagmire. Thanks to the unassailable human rights and anti-war platforms and individual non-conformists like Noam Chomsky et al, the world at last could see the end to the Vietnam episode. But the chapter was replete with the ruthless killing of common Vietnamese, the collapse of a poor nation's economy and divisiveness among the people. Ironically, all this was ricochetted by an inevitable consequence. It materialised in the form of a daredevil Vietnamese Liberation Force. The seemingly invincible US army, eventually, had to flee the invaded country being unable to sustain the all-out pressure of the Vietnam's patriotic forces.

Except the hostile stance against Bangladesh during its 1971 birth, the American governments kept themselves from meddling in the Asian theatre for a long period. They came back in full form in 1991 with a view to punishing Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. A brazen territorial misstep on the part of Saddam in his invasion of neighbouring Kuwait (1990) prompted the US to act on Iraq. Saddam Hussein's government emerged as an obsession for the US, as a military coalition led by the US almost crippled the country with economic sanctions, no-fly zones etc. The US revived its hostility towards Iraq on its suspicion of Saddam government's tests on 'weapons of mass destruction' and nuclear ambitions in 2003. In the face of Saddam's denial, another US-led coalition attacked the oil-rich Iraq in 2003. The action was approved by the US Congress.  The devastating Iraq War resulted in terrible casualties on both sides. Factionalism, various forms of feuds and anarchy began eating at the vitals of the country. Eventually, the world and the 'Iraqi people' witnessed the end of the 'dictatorial' Saddam era. It ended completely with Saddam Hussein's execution by the US-led coalition forces. With the war over, Iraq was drawn into a civil war and became synonymous with a dysfunctional state. However, Iraqis can now claim to have overcome those chaotic times. However, global analysts say US Presidents had critical roles in the events unfolding in the Saddam-era Iraq.

American Presidents cannot act on their own when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs. They cannot even remotely think of bypassing the Congress approvals. All of their decisions have to be passed by the majority of the members in the bi-camerallegislature. In the 2021 post-election deterioration in governance in the US under President Trump, the Congress has emerged as the fulcrum of the processes that would lead to the swearing-in of the President-elect Joe Biden. The intransigent opposition of the lame-duck President to Joe Biden, the former's barrage of electoral allegations against him and, finally, the infantile threats to start a battle along with people turned the solemn atmosphere into a buffoonery. The general people in the US and around the globe would have endured the developments up to that point. But a mob is always a mob. It goes by its own rule; what it waits for is a signal of incitement. Upon getting that thumbs-up they went about their routine business on the fateful January 6. This time the target turned out to be the august house of the Capitol. Many were unaware that this building housing the US Congress had shaped their great nation of all races from around the globe through myriad ups and downs and many sleepless nights. Upon getting a picture of the harrowing scenario on that day, the nearly incredulous Congress formally certified Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.

Amid a tsunami of criticism coming from world leaders, the American people and those in other countries now await the swearing-in of Joe Biden as the new President of the US.The saner segments in the world hope the still-unpredictable Trump's post-election activities will not portend fraught times for the country.


[email protected]  

Share if you like