Military police officers restrain a protestor near the White House on Monday as demonstrations against George Floyd’s death continue. Photo: AFP
US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he will deploy the military to restore order if states cannot quell the chaos quickly. Earlier the same day, Republican Senator Tom Cotton threatened in a tweet that the US could sent “the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry – whatever it takes to restore order,” adding “no quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.”
The riots in the US have lasted just a week, efforts for reaching a peaceful solution have barely been made, yet, Trump and Cotton have blatantly put their chips – sending troops to quell protests – on the table. This could be argued as the most extreme response to disorder among governments across the world.
Then why did Washington arrogantly and unreasonably accuse other countries of quelling riots? Why did politicians in Washington overbearingly portray the US as the beacon of democracy and human rights? Have they really not anticipated that the US could one day confront the situation as it does today and that their previous big talk could become a slap on their face?
People see the US falling into disgrace. As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the world, the US ranks No.1 in terms of confirmed cases and deaths. As anti-racist protests surge, the government and Congress should have taken quick action to comfort their people, but have instead exacerbated confrontation and led to the spread of the chaos. What is more irritating is that US political elites have played hypocrisy and barbarism. The hooligan nature of Washington makes it a complete nuisance.
But this set of tactics by Washington can hardly work now. One needs hard and soft power and overwhelming deterrence to play double standards, but now the US doesn’t have enough of such power.
Equally importantly, US interests are gradually falling apart from international society. Washington selfishly puts its own interests as priority and seeks “America first” brazenly. Its appeal and ability to defend itself are shrinking.
Many people around the world are making a comparison of riots in Hong Kong and those in the US. The US was still aggressively calling on its allies to put pressure on Beijing over the Hong Kong affairs last week. Trump announced measures to sanction Hong Kong for the Chinese central government’s decision to enact a national security law for Hong Kong. But it’s noticeable that there is not much substance in Washington’s decision and US allies were not enthusiastic in following suit.
The US remains the strongest power in the world, but its strength is not enough to support its ambition of reshaping the global order. The country has too many urgent domestic issues. US failure in containing the COVID-19 epidemic has exposed severe deficiencies in the country’s governance. The ongoing unrest exposes the deep-rooted problem of inequality and a lack of justice, reflecting the anger of the people at the bottom and the destruction when such anger is vented in the internet era.
China has shown patience toward the Hong Kong riots. Enacting a national security law for the city is one of the fundamental measures to solve the problem. Does the White House believe that deploying the military can solve its deep-seated problems? This is wrong. If the US cannot even contain the novel coronavirus, how can it soothe people’s rage toward racial discrimination and social injustice that are everywhere?
The US political elites should be realistic and stop arbitrarily escalating external confrontations and playing party politics. They should figure out what the American people really need and help them fulfill their wishes.