The U.S. failed to police itself. Can it be trusted to police Latin America?
On Saturday, the police of the world failed to convict the leader of an insurrection on its own capitol. After voting not to convict, Mitch McConnell said Donald Trump was guilty.
On Feb. 13, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 42 other Republicans voted to acquit former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.
“Former President Trump’s actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said. “Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” of Jan. 6.
The speech, coming from the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill, was fittingly scathing, but after a vote to acquit, many pointed out the blatant hypocrisy, as McConnell had considered voting to convict the former president as a means of expelling Trump from the party.
However sources say McConnell concluded he couldn’t side with his party’s minority, as leader.
Instead, he used his influence and status to discredit Trump’s allegiance to his party, and place the blame of insurrection on him after the verdict, saying Trump forfeited his responsibility as President when the insurrection struck and refused to refute his claims of fraud.
“Whatever reaction he says he meant to produce by the afternoon, we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us,” McConnell said. “A mob was assaulting a Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him.”
Again, some called it a hypocritical act, and others called it disgraceful, but in the end, the last month has been embarrassing on all fronts.
On Jan 6, the rising tensions in the United States and subsequent inability to deal with the transgressions were put on full display for the world to see
The U.S. has started 2021 with a host of unprecedented situations — an insurrection, the highest total COVID-19 death tolls in the world, a second impeachment trial, and a subsequent acquittal.
It also started off the year with a new administration and President at the helm of the nation.
For those familiar with the U.S.'s role as the police of the world, major skepticism at its capacity to perform the self-appointed role is warranted.
It’s a role that’s persisted since the Second World War, when the U.S. economy was larger than the four next-largest economies combined. After the fall of France in 1940, U.S. leaders became convinced that intervention in foreign matters would benefit the nation.
At the end of the war, and following F.D.R. and his successor Harry Truman, the U.S. proceeded to expand its foothold throughout the world.
Since then, the U.S. has been relentless in its pursuit of securing its interests via intervention in foreign entities. Today, the Pentagon controls over 700 bases in about 80 countries around the Globe, mentions the New Yorker, in a piece dissecting the problem and potential of the 70-year superpower.
It’s a history that President Biden will seek to uphold, but following Trump’s acquittal, the world is watching closely.
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies,” he said.
Embedded within his statement, perhaps is a code for what he intends for the United State’s foreign interests. To return to a power that is “vigilant” of all others, and will fight “extremism.”
Biden has already promised to move away from his predecessor’s alienating policies, and towards cultivating allies. He recently announced he would be visiting the G7 virtual summit, and he also joined the World Health Administration within his first days in office.
Still, U.S. supremacy is in crisis — one that’s been in the making for decades by way of polarizing politics in Congress, conspiracy theories, exposés of foreign interests, and a shrinking economy, which isn't nearly where it was in the 40s.
But it’s one thing to be unable to govern the world, and another thing entirely to question whether the U.S. should in the first place, especially in the context of the aftermath of Trump’s acquittal. It sets a dangerous precedent that the Biden administration, and those that follow it will need to govern.
With acquittal, Trump is now allowed to play a part in any future elections he chooses, and his most prominent followers and vocal supporters before insurrection in Congress — Marjorie Taylor Green, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley are left without facing any consequence apart from general bipartisan disdain.
It has resulted in a sense of uneasiness and fragility that wasn’t as overtly present as it was before Trump’s presidency.
The police of the world failed to convict for treason, and it has ousted foreign leaders for less.
No one knows the U.S.’s police tactics better than Mexico and Latin America.
Trump’s presidency saw a more hands-off approach than his predecessors, though his administration still intervened extensively via backing a presidential coup in Bolivia and recognizing an illegitimate president in Venezuela.
In response, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and Latin American Leaders have adapted their policies to account for the United States’ absence. On the flip side, residents of these countries have also ventured to take back power into their own hands.
Mexico has a self-proclaimed leftist at the helm who has outwardly expressed his own disapproval of his perceived censorship of elected officials like Donald Trump, and pointedly delayed his congratulations of Biden’s victory for weeks.
Then, in mid-January, AMLO’s government exonerated a Mexican general and former defense minister, Salvador Cienfuegos, who was previously arrested in the United States for collaborating with a drug cartel.
This is without mentioning the issue of immigration, which apart from border wall efforts, was largely untouched by Biden’s predecessor. This distance also gave way to large-scale calls for social change in Latin America.
Demonstrations broke out across South America in 2019, and well into 2020 until they were partly dissipated by the global pandemic.
Across Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador, protestors took to the streets, at times with violence, to express anger at elites and economic inequities that keep them at the top. In Peru, residents protested a corrupt presidential election,and in Bolivia a U.S.-backed coup led to an uprising.
There are two sides: that the United States’ distance over the last four years has resulted in the class uproars, and the other — that it is because of the distance that these nations are able to manifest themselves.
But Biden wants back in.
The former vice president is known for implementing U.S. policy in Guatemala, and Colombia, and maintaining ties with one of our closest neighbors, Mexico.
In Guatemala, then-Vice President Biden pushed former president Molina to accept the U.N.-backed International commission against impunity (CICIG) to investigate corruption and allegations of bribery. In the end, Molina and his Attorney General were ousted and jailed.
In the 90s Biden’s career as a senator saw him play a key part in the Plan Colombia, an anti-drug-trafficking, anti-violence financial and security package that, while it had strategic interest, has seen general praise.
There’s reason to believe that Biden at the helm will restore a sense of the U.S.’s prior foothold in Latin America, but this was before Jan. 6. Unfortunately for the president, this was out of his hands, and the fault of the nation’s broken system of justice.
It’s been widely said that Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell demonstrated his true colors on Feb. 13, but in reality, it was the United States.