US PRESIDENT GW Bush will be one of the three former presidents — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are the other two — who would be present in the inauguration of the president-elect Joe Biden on January 20. Twenty-five thousand members of the National Guards, a part of the US Army and Air Force, would be present to secure the premise and ensure the safety of the event from threats of domestic terrorism that are real. The terrorists have already given a preview of what they are capable of doing on January 6 by attacking the Capitol, not in small terrorist cells, but thousands. They have threatened a repeat of their terrorist acts not just in Washington but in the 50 state capitals leading to the inauguration.
Bush should spare himself some thoughts while sitting through the inauguration with the world watching. He should ponder whether the capitals of the countries where he had sent the US and coalition troops to fight his infamous war on terror on, in case of Iraq, false intelligence, would look any different if the inauguration was to take place in any of those capitals and not Washington DC. The US capital has turned into a war zone. Its appearance is surreal. Troops are now sleeping on the floor of the Capitol while legislators are carrying out their official activities. The troops are there to protect and secure the inauguration of a US president. Such events in the past have flagged the county’s unquestioned ability for a peaceful transition of power and also a day of national celebration.
The sworn enemies of the United States could not have done a better job in painting a more damning picture of the country’s image than what the National Guards in particular and the law enforcement agencies working with them are being forced to paint to secure the inauguration of a new US president. They are securing and ensuring a US presidential inauguration against no fear of ISIS or al-Qaeda or any of the known or unknown foreign terrorist groups but against domestic terrorism and terrorists who are predominantly white and cult-like followers of the president.
Loads of video footage have now flooded the mainstream media of the fateful day in the Capitol. These footages together with what the world watched on January 6 have established a narrative fit for a horror tale. These video footages have documented an open and shut case about president Donald Trump inciting an insurrection with his white supremacist supporters to stay in power through domestic terrorism. The mainstream media that he had called ‘fake’ every day of his four years in office have gathered the evidence, a great deal of which are graphic, that leaves little for imagination.
Yet, 197 of 211 Republican house members turned a blind eye to what the world saw as clear as daylight, namely president Trump using his followers to lay siege to the Capitol, the temple of US democracy, and commit acts of domestic terrorism to pressure the Republican members in the congress to give him a second term. They voted against impeaching him. Some of these enablers are now spinning their acts of domestic terrorism masterminded and incited by the president as acts carried out by Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement. These enablers are following the same political strategy that they learnt from their leader which is the failed strategy of Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels who preached that ‘if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.’
If Goebbels had been alive today, he would have been astounded by the extent to which president Trump’s enablers are extending his ‘big lie’ theory to distort the truth even as more damning evidence are emerging from the large number of closed-circuit television cameras that captured the five-hour sordid terrorist drama inside the Capitol, frame by frame. A security expert compared these video images to the terrorist attack inside the US embassy in Benghazi in 2012 that Americans have seen over and over again the same way they are now seeing the siege of the Capitol. The president, silenced by Twitter that has banned him for life, released a video, meanwhile, in which he claimed that he believed in non-violence. Everyone, outside his base and enablers, thought that it was a joke that they believe his lawyers forced upon him for his defence from prosecution once he left the office that most experts believe would likely occur.
The ball of not just America’s path out of the abyss into which president Trump has pushed the country but also reclaiming the country’s lost credibility as ‘a champion of democracy’ and not terrorism or follower of Goebbels’s big lie theory would depend on the senate. The president will leave the office with his second impeachment, the first president in US history to be impeached twice but without punishment because the Republican-dominated senate led by senator Mitch McConnell declined to try him. He will now be tried after the new administration takes office and the Democrats gain control of the senate.
That new senate would need 17 Republican senators to punish the president to deny him the privileges of a former president because he would be out of office. The Democrats would then by simple majority be able to ban him for life from holding an elected office ever again. There is no certainty that the Republicans in the senate would come on board because president Trump has successfully turned the Republican Party into a cult, with a huge part of the party’s supporters following him as their cult leader, during his four years in office. They are afraid to punish him because they are afraid that he would turn his followers against them to jeopardise their political ambitions leading to the 2020 and 2024 as the 197 Republican members in the house were afraid to impeach him. And many of them are afraid that the wrath of the president’s followers could also endanger their lives and those of their families.
America is at a dangerous crossroads, with its future facing many questions made even more complex by the raging pandemic that has attained its present extremely alarming posture because president Trump trivialised it and allowed it to get out of hand. Thus while president GW Bush sits at the inaugural, amid an utterly surreal environment, he should do some soul searching to answer in his mind if the curses of the souls of the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children who died in the war on terror he inspired and led in Afghanistan and Iraq are somehow responsible for the shame a successor of his, one belonging to his party, has brought to his country. Perhaps, he should write another book to supplement his 2010 Decision Points and seek divine forgiveness for his country. Neither Trump nor his Republican enablers in the congress appear prepared to do so.
Postscript: Systemic racism has always been an integral part of American politics and governance. The siege of and terrorism in the Capitol on January 6 only established that truth, clear as daylight, on the United States’s political platform. The fateful day has also further established that unless it is addressed, not only would the country slide further into the abyss, its claim as the leader of the free world, already weakened seriously by four years of president Trump, would no longer be taken seriously.
M Serajul Islam is a former career Ambassador. He writes from Maryland, USA.