I have criticized President Joe Biden for not doing more for Ukraine, but the United States is sending more aid than any other country — by a wide margin. America’s total commitment to Ukraine – $44.3 billion – is almost seven times that of the second largest donor, Britain. Without US help, Ukraine would probably have lost the war by now.
This is a reminder that the United States remains what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the “essential nation”. But how long can we defend democracy abroad while enduring a democratic crisis at home?
Biden was all too specific in last week’s harsh indictment of “MAGA Republicans” as “a threat to our democracy itself” and flirting with “semi-fascism.”
Independent researchers have come to the same conclusion, finding that the GOP has more in common with authoritarian political parties in countries like Hungary and Turkey than with centre-right parties in Western Europe.
That’s a big problem because the GOP isn’t just any fringe party. As recently as 2018, she controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and she’s still on track to regain control of the House in November, despite some encouraging policy trends for Democrats.
And yet, no matter how much damaging information comes out about Donald Trump, the GOP remains a cult of personality for the disgraced former president. Although the Jan. 6 House Committee showed that the storming of the Capitol was part of a Trump coup attempt, it is still viewed favorably by 80 percent of Republicans.
Even Trump’s unauthorized removal of classified information — he kept more than 700 pages of classified information at Mar-a-Lago — hasn’t tarnished his standing among Republicans. On the contrary, the number of Republicans who expressed a “very positive” opinion of Trump actually rose (from 45 percent to 57 percent) following a court-ordered FBI search of his property.
The same right-wingers who called for Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted for using a private email server for official email are now hastily excusing Trump’s handling of mere “documents,” even when those documents have the potential to compromise highly sensitive intelligence methods or have human sources killed.
Imagine what that looks like from abroad. As axios notes, “In at least 76 countries, leaders who have left office since 2000 have been imprisoned or prosecuted — including in democracies like France, Israel and South Korea.”
However, the de facto Republican position seems to be that their supreme leader should be above the law – just like Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping. Trump has already gotten away with numerous crimes, including likely obstructing justice in investigating his campaign’s dealings with Russia, attempting to use military aid to blackmail Ukraine into political aid, and of course instigating a mob attack on the Capitol.
Now the GOP seems to think he should get away with misusing classified information. This contributes to the perception that America is becoming a banana republic. We are the country, lest we forget, that has had more confirmed Covid-19 deaths – over a million – than any other.
Since the worst of the Covid pandemic has passed, our international reputation has been shattered not only by the uprising in the Capitol, but also by our inability to deal with rising gun violence. No wonder that while America’s international reputation has recovered since Trump left office, few people around the world see our democracy as a model to emulate.
In a Pew Research Center survey of 16 countries last year, 57 percent of respondents said US democracy used to be a good example, but not anymore.
This brings us to the momentous decision Attorney General Merrick Garland may soon have to make on whether to charge Trump with possible crimes such as obstruction of justice and violations of the Espionage Act. Some suggest Garland should be fired for fear of a Republican backlash that would only strengthen Trump. These concerns are real; Violence is likely to erupt if Trump is arrested.
However, if there is enough evidence to charge the former president with a crime and the Justice Department refuses to do so, it would send a dangerous signal of impunity for high-level wrongdoing that will further erode U.S. democracy at home and abroad .
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/defending-democracy-abroad-wont-help-us-at-home-41948585.html Defending democracy abroad will not help the US at home