A year later, what do we know about the Capitol riot? How did it start? Where is it leading? Kazakhstan: Russian paratroopers arrive to quell unrest.
A year later, what do we know about the Capitol riot?
Many questions remain about what led to one of the darkest days for American democracy in over a century. Its effects, however, have become pretty clear.
Numerous polls are out showing that Americans remain deeply divided in their attitudes to the events of Jan. 6, 2021. A sizeable (mostly Republican) minority support the rioters’ goals, or believe the rioters were Antifa rather than MAGA.
Most disturbingly, 30% of Republicans think that violence may be necessary to “save” America and only 4 in 10 Republicans agree that the attack was very violent. This suggests that a growing number of Republicans believe that even more extreme violence may be necessary and even justifiable in order to advance their goals.
So the attack itself as increased both the threshold and thirst for political violence in America. But what led to the attack?
How deep (or high) did it go?
This is one of the key questions that the Jan. 6 Congressional committee is wrestling with. Prominent members have hinted that their ultimate goal is to prosecute Trump for attempting to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election. So far, the committee has not made public the full facts or the rationale behind their case.
To fill in these blanks, Sydney Blumenthal has laid out a thorough case for a high-level campaign to overturn the election (all the way to Trump himself).
In Blumenthal’s view, the attack on Congress was merely an offshoot of a wider conspiracy to subvert both the popular and electoral college vote through a political coup. He further insinuates that certain members of Congress helped to plan the attack. For instance, he hints that the rioters had advance knowledge of the most vulnerable access points to the Capitol which must have come from an insider.
Blumenthal alleges that a cadre of right-wing Washington power players mapped out and coordinated the coup plot months in advance. The coup met its demise when the Pentagon staunchly refused to play ball, and a few key political players decided at the pivotal moment not to act out the well-rehearsed roles laid out for them. The violent insurrection, Blumenthal says, was not the main event. It was merely a pressure tactic to strongarm those fence-straddling politicians into doing as they had been told.
It must be noted that Blumenthal, a Democrat, is himself a consummate D.C. insider and well-versed in political machinations. That said, his facts as stated are in order and are corroborated with media reports. Only the way he connects his dots is up for debate.
What does the future hold?
Blumenthal stops short of implying that Trump directly ordered the attack. But maybe Trump didn’t need to. Events seem have largely moved forward under their own steam. In the aftermath of Jan. 6, a picture is coalescing of a democracy in crisis, whatever your political leanings.
A recent poll shows that 91% of Republicans do not accept the outcome of the 2020 election. And Trump allies are running with this view by moving to take over state and local level election boards to make it easier to steer elections. Add to that dozens of states passing voting restrictions, gerrymandering efforts currently underway, and moves to curb civil liberties, and you have a recipe for a failed democracy. This has prompted fears that the U.S. could be under a right-wing dictatorship by 2030.
Three retired generals are even warning that key members of the military could be co-opted to support a coup in 2024. The prospect is alarming, since Blumenthal reckons that the military’s stand last year was key in preventing the invalidation of the 2020 election and a declaration of martial law. Tellingly, these generals no longer see as farfetched the notion that the U.S. could join the ranks of countries that have fallen to military dictatorships in recent years. Only time will tell if we can avert such a crisis.
Russian paratroopers enter Kazakhstan to quell unrest
This week, widespread unrest has overtaken much of the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan. Rioters gathered in several of the country’s major cities and stormed government buildings. The catalyst for the uprisings is the price of gas. The price has doubled over a few days since the government lifted the price cap on Sunday. But the scope of the protests has grown to encompass other political strife.
Yesterday, the country’s government resigned and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed an interim prime minister. Internet has also been cut throughout the country to suppress gatherings.
Tokayev requested Russian “peace-keeping” troops to enter the country to help restore order. Kazakhstan shares a border with Russia and was part of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan’s own security forces have already killed dozens of protesters in Almaty, the largest city. Twelve security officers have also died in the violence.
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