‘American Exceptionalism’ on the Line After Capitol Hill Stormed

U.S. democracy survived the storming of the Capitol building. What has come to be known as American exceptionalism may not.

The idea that the U.S. for reasons of its history and seemingly rock-solid democratic institutions is uniquely advantaged has long rested behind American claims to global leadership, as well as the expectation — at least among allies — that it should exercise it.

The concept is riddled with contradictions, underpinned by crude military and economic strength and rejected by many including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and America’s outgoing leader Donald Trump, who directed his supporters to Capitol Hill to protest certification of his election defeat — by 7 million votes — in November.

While it has eroded over the years, the soft power of what former President Ronald Reagan liked to call “a shining city on a hill” has at times been powerful. On Wednesday it suffered a body blow.

“Yes,” said Howard Dean, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, when asked on Bloomberg TV whether Wednesday’s spectacle marked the end of American exceptionalism. “It was probably over the day Trump took office.”

The fallout could include a weakened ability to confront and compete with fellow superpower China, or to call Russian, Turkish, Saudi or other leaders out for democratic and human rights abuses, including smaller economies in Africa and Latin America.

“It is not just it will be a long time before we can credibly advocate for the rule of law,” Richard Haass, a former U.S. diplomat and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, said on Twitter. “It will also be a long time for us to persuade allies to rely on us or lecture others they are not stable enough to have nuclear weapons.”

China quickly used the events in Washington to drive home a narrative of U.S. hypocrisy, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying drawing a directcomparison to the U.S. endorsement of pro-democracy protesters who stormed Hong Kong’s legislature in 2019. The U.S. under Trump has frequently linked trade with political actions, penalizing Beijing for its crackdown in Hong Kong and its treatment of its Uighur Islamic minority in Xinjiang province.

@globaltimesnewsChina state-affiliated media

Similar scenes in Hong Kong and Washington DC, a blatant display of double standards:
-“Beautiful sight” vs “Violent riots”;
-“Heroes” vs “Rioters”;
-“Defense of democracy” vs “Assault on democracy”

10:30 AM · Jan 7, 2021


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