On January 6th, the US made a fool of itself – this is how it must affect autocracies like Iran or China. The inability to deal with Trump and his mob is likely to have consequences for the role as a world power.
America has the second failed impeachment against Donald Trump behind it and is more than ever divided, bad enough. By the way, America is still an indispensable superpower, and so we should now ask ourselves a crucial question: What does January 6th mean for the influence of the USA on world events?
1. Joe Biden wants to regain trust and thereby stabilize supremacy in all alliances in the West. NATO and the European Union, the UN and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund or the WHO breathed a sigh of relief after his election and looked forward to a fresh start. But only half of America is following the new president on these tracks. As fragile and unpredictable as this country is, a Republican president can flip the switch again in four years.
And then? Trust demands duration. Trust needs reliability. We can only hope to a limited extent from America.
Biden distances himself from Saudi Arabia – is that really smart?
2. The fact that the projection of power, which America used quite arrogantly, has lost its strength, has not been overlooked since the Iraq war. The civil war in Syria and the associated struggle for hegemony in the region drag on without the superpower America being able to influence it. The new alliance that Israel has entered into with the Gulf States is paradoxically thanks to Donald Trump. For this reason, Biden is correcting the changed status quo by distancing himself from Saudi Arabia as long as the war in Yemen continues. But is that really wise? Saudi Arabia is actually the most important ally in the conflict with Iran.
US President Joe Biden speaks at the Pentagon: Biden wants to revive multilateral alliances. (Source: Carlos Barria / Reuters)
America is no longer a power of order in the Middle East. It is quite possible that Iran’s propensity to tie in with the nuclear deal, which Trump unilaterally terminated, is not particularly great. And that would be a big blow to Biden.
World power and humility do not go together
3. America has always seen itself as a beacon of freedom, a torch of democracy, called by history to carry its model out into the world. This self-empowerment had messianic features right from the start and had been a grotesque presumption since Vietnam at the latest. On January 6, 2021, however, the self-ideal burst into a thousand pieces. This was ensured by the Trump Soldateska, who quietly penetrated the Capitol, hunted down MPs and quietly dismantled the offices when she did not get her hands on either Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi. And the country of the many secret services, the highly powerful military, the national guard, the many special units and the many police forces let them go for hours. A democracy that thinks of itself as big as America couldn’t be more ridiculous. And to top it off, she can’t even bring the man to account for whom the mob went to the field.
January 6, 2021: Trump supporters storm the US Capitol. (Source: Leah Millis / Reuters)
Humility would be appropriate, it would be true. But world power and humility do not go together, they are an internal contradiction. And the world actually needs a self-confident, non-messianic world power America.
China will be less irritated than ever
4. How do you think, for example, the Chinese leadership looks at American drama? It can only understand the storming of the Capitol as a weakness, as the inability of democracy to deal with its enemies. What January 6, 2021 is for America, June 4, 1989 was for China. On Tiananmen Square (from the Communist Party perspective) numerous enemies of the state who wanted democracy gathered, an unprecedented event. It took a couple of days and then the tanks rolled. After a brief period of weakness, a demonstration of brutal strength that reverberated over decades.
The Chinese leadership has staying power and has no problem using violence, inside or outside. In her claim to replace America on the world stage, she will be less irritated than ever. America is just a paper tiger, so they are likely to interpret the events in Beijing and draw conclusions from them.
The US remains vulnerable
5. On the one hand, Europe is relieved that a sensible, understanding man like Joe Biden is sitting in the White House, a well-known figure. On the other hand, self-reassurance and passivity are inappropriate. America remains vulnerable, preoccupied with itself, that is inevitable. America also needs support for political and economic conflicts with China, which are likely to intensify in the near future. That is why Europe has even more reasons to strive for a stable role out there in the world – for self-protection and as a solid ally of America. Emmanuel Macron envisions a sovereign, united Europe. Working on it now is an obvious one.
What becomes of America, whether it paralyzes itself or reinvents itself, concerns us all. But America no longer depends as much as it does just now. It would only be logical if Europe became more independent and important.