‘Worse than a crime; a mistake’
The mob of yahoos and cretins that broke into the United States capitol this week was not a spontaneous act of violence. Quite the contrary, it was a carefully planned criminal uprising designed to terrorize congress and prevent the election of president-elect Joe Biden.
It was clear orders had been given to the local security forces to largely disarm but accommodate the rioters, and allow them into the capitol buildings. By whom? Clearly by President Trump or his minions. There will probably be no written record. Trump, who grew up rubbing shoulders with gangsters and union thugs, certainly had learned the lesson taught by the late criminal lawyer Roy Cohen to always skirt the law and never leave a clear trail.
It’s also very likely that Trump tried to organize a military coup against his own government, what Latin Americans call an ‘autogolpe.’ That’s why ten former US defense secretaries, including the far-right Dick Cheney, felt compelled to issue a joint letter warning Trump not to involve the military in domestic politics. Draft-dodger Trump fancies himself a potential military genius. His effort at Bonapartism quickly failed.
A mob of low-IQ thugs waving Confederate flags was not enough to take over the US government. For this, military or paramilitary forces would have been needed to seize the Pentagon and major military bases, the major media, airports, telecommunications, the Treasury, and police HQ.
And yet there had been open talk for weeks of some sort of coup attempt by Trump supporters. Americans were so absorbed by the game of politics that they almost ignored the looming threat of a coup attempt by denizens of the far right, driven to a frenzy by Trump’s crass falsehoods about the election being stolen.
It’s interesting to compare Trump’s coup attempt with events in the Soviet Union in 1991. A cabal of die-hard communists, including Defense Minister Marshal Yazov, sought to overthrow the reformist government of Mikhail Gorbachev. They mounted a poorly-organized coup to seize state organs in Moscow and isolated Gorbachev at his retreat in Crimea.
The two Soviet mechanized divisions tasked with seizing Moscow went to the city center, then remained inactive due to lack of orders. Marshal Shaposhnikov refused to order his transport aircraft to bring more troops to Moscow to aid the coup. Special KGB ‘Alpha’ units refused to fire on insurgent leader Boris Yeltsin. In all, the highly patriotic Red Army refused to engage in the coup.
The coup failed and its leaders, most of them drunk on vodka, were rounded up and arrested. But this event, and the anti-Yeltsin coup two year later, marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.
The coup leaders were initially jailed, then released. Stalin would have had them shot. The Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, never recovered.
Trump’s encouragement, and then refusal, to halt the storming of the capitol, will likely mark the end of his political career. He could be censored, or even jailed for his act of insurrection. His plans to run again for president in four years look highly unlikely to succeeded after his act of political arson. His supporters, who are large in numbers, should be deterred from advocating violence, Christian political extremism, extreme Zionism and environmental backwardness. The Republican Party needs a huge enema.
Americans deserve to be deeply embarrassed by this week’s events. Scenes of rioters inside the capitol waving Confederate flags conjure fears of a second American civil war: many of the states that voted for Trump were also part of the old civil war Confederacy.
As a New Yorker and life-long Eisenhower Republican, I was horrified by events in Washington. Trump was flying B-52 bombers over Iran while hooligans were trashing the capitol.