Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
If a history film titled “Fall of the American Empire” is to be made in the 22nd century, the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol would be the climax scene.
A mob incited by the outgoing President’s call for denial of the election result gathered into Washington D.C., forced themselves into the US. Capitol building and vandalized it.
It was as if the Occupy movement in the Wall Street a decade ago moved to Washington D.C. and transmuted from the far-left radicalism to the far-right white supremacy movement.
Actually, for the U.S. homeland security officials, White supremacists’ terrorism have been watched as a primary security threat at least since 2019. Documents and reports of the Department of Homeland Security have cautioned about possible aggressive actions by the White supremacists. That fear was realized in the worst possible way at the center of the U.S. politics.
The sight of the turmoil is the most delightful for competitors and adversaries of the U.S., particularly Russia, China and Iran. For them, the riot on the Capitol Hill signifies incurable malaise of the U.S. society and dysfunction of the U.S. political system, which are the best sources of vindication of their oppressive rule.
For the U.S. allies all over the world, the confusion and tension at the Capitol are sources of anxiety and uneasiness about the future.
Mr. Trump took office 4 years ago pledging to “drain the swamp” of the rule of the policy establishment and at the end of his tenure. At the end of his term, elites and experts in the U.S. government are trying hard repairing the breach.
One of the efforts is the release of the sensitive national security documents titled “United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” which was approved in February 2018 and had been implemented since.
The documents were declassified on January 5, on the eve of the D.C. turmoil caused by the insurrection, and made widely public on January 12, the day the U.S. House of Representatives voted for calling on Vice President Mike Pence to declare “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”
The release of the documents on the Indo-Pacific is widely understood as an effort to reassure U.S. allies in East Asia and South East Asia on the U.S. unwavering commitment to sustain status quo against increasingly assertive China. Mr. Trump may go, but U.S. policy establishment will stay and pick up the pieces of the mess Mr. Trump left behind.