- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Stunned U.S. allies and adversaries alike weighed in on the chaos that engulfed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as images of the confrontation between President Trump’s supporters and law enforcement led virtually every news website around the globe.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among the world leaders expressing alarm over the scenes of violence and vandalism emerging from Washington, which Mr. Johnson denounced as “disgraceful.”

“The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” Mr. Johnson wrote on Twitter.

For many international observers, the idea that a challenge for an election in a bastion of democracy was both disorienting and unnerving.

“We’re used to seeing this kind of mayhem in the Middle East, but to see it now playing out IN Washington, it’s just very shocking,” said one producer at a leading Arabic-language news outlet overseas on Wednesday afternoon.

The Australian, one of the U.S. ally’s leading newspapers, topped its website with a photo of a policeman wearing a gas mask inside the U.S. Capitol, under a headline describing the chaos as being “as close to a coup as anything” that’s ever happened in America. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas compared the day’s events to scenes from his country’s Nazi past, predicting on Twitter that “the enemies of democracy will rejoice at these inconceivable images from Washington, D.C.”

“Seditious words turn to violent actions — on the steps of the Reichstag, and now in the Capitol,” he added. “Contempt for democratic institutions has devastating effects.”

Those who have felt the sting of criticism from the U.S. over their own political systems also could not resist taking a jab at the day’s events.

“Quite Maidan-style pictures are coming from D.C.,” Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter, a reference to the U.S.-backed protests in Ukraine that drove a pro-Russian president into exile in 2014.

The Foreign Ministry of Venezuela, whose socialist government has clashed bitterly with the Trump administration for four years, said Wednesday’s events exposed the sham of American policies.

“With this pitiful episode, the U.S. is suffering exactly what it has caused in other countries with its aggressive policies,” the ministry said in a statement. “Venezuela hopes these violent events will soon cease and that the U.S. people will finally be able to find a new path towards stability and social justice.”

On the Russian state-backed RT news site, senior writer Nebojsa Malic wrote in a column, “Perhaps the U.S. ought to take a long, hard look at its own house before it continues calling out, sanctioning, regime-changing or bombing other countries over their supposed lack of ‘democracy.’”

A number of U.S. lawmakers and ex-officials openly worried that the Capitol protests were harming America’s image abroad. Rep. Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin Republican, warned on CNN as the events were still unfolding that the whole world, including “the Chinese Communist Party,” was watching.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden made the same point in demanding Mr. Trump order his followers to stand down: “It’s not a protest; it’s insurrection,” Mr. Biden said. “The world is watching.”

Other U.S. adversaries were also initially guarded in their coverage. English-language versions of Iranian state media, for instance, had not mentioned the developments as of early Wednesday evening.

But many European news outlets weighed in, including a number that were already critical of Mr. Trump’s determination to challenge the results of the presidential election and encourage his followers to keep up the fight.

Le Figaro Washington correspondent Adrien Jaulmes wrote Wednesday wrote that “the scorched-earth strategy practiced by Donald Trump since the ballot on November 3, by refusing against all odds the result of the ballot, has brought American democracy into a serious constitutional crisis.”

“The strategy has so far only succeeded in fracturing the Republican Party and stoking resentment and mistrust in both parties.”

An analysis in the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian described the scene thus: “The U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy, has been stormed by a pro-Donald Trump mob, egged on by the president in a desperate and violent effort to overturn the results of the election.”

Images of protesters storming the Capitol building were also front and center on the websites of other major European outlets, including Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais and the BBC.

• David R. Sands contributed to this report.

• David R. Sands contributed to this report.

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