As violent President Donald Trump supporters occupied the U.S. Capitol building, President-elect Joe Biden gave a speech to the rest of America. “The world is watching,” he said.
Indeed they are: Over the past few hours, representatives of countries all over the world have called for de-escalation and peace in Washington D.C. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. 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.” Keir Starmer, the opposition leader, wrote:
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, tweeted, “The scenes from the Capitol are utterly horrifying. Solidarity with those in [the United States] on the side of democracy and the peaceful and constitutional transfer of power. Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”
Eriksen Soreide, the foreign affairs minister from Norway, made a statement as well. “The situation in #WashingtonDC is deeply disturbing and alarming, and an unacceptable attack on democracy. President Trump has a particular responsibility to ensure that the situation comes under control,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.
Armin Laschet, the head of Germany’s largest state and Angela Merkel’s potential successor, had a similar message: “For hundreds of years US Congress was a symbol of freedom and democracy. The attacks by fanatical Trump supporters on the Capitol hurt every friend of the USA. Who sows populism and polarization reaps hate and violence.” Andreas Michaelis, the German ambassador to the UK and former state secretary of the German Foreign Office, brought up Germany’s own history, wrote:
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez spoke out in support of Biden, writing, “I am following with concern the news that are coming from Capitol Hill in Washington. I trust in the strength of America's democracy. The new Presidency of @JoeBiden will overcome this time of tension, uniting the American people.”
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, tweeted, “Horrible images from Washington D.C. Dear @realDonaldTrump, recognise @JoeBiden as the next president today.” Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, added “Very worrying scenes from Washington DC, I am confident that democratic institutions and principles of the rule of law will prevail.”
In Turkey, the Anadolu Agency, a state media service, reported “Turkey invites all parties in US to use moderation, common sense to overcome this domestic political crisis.” The Turkish foreign ministry added, "We are following the domestic developments with concern that took place after the US Presidential elections and demonstrator's attempt to raid the Congress building today. We invite all parties in the USA to temperance and common sense. We believe that the USA will overcome this domestic political crisis in maturity. We recommend that our citizens in the USA stay away from crowded places and places where shows are held."
Other international figures have commented as well. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, tweeted, “Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security, wrote: “In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege. This is an unseen assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law. This is not America. The election results of 3 November must be fully respected.”
Outside of Europe, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, tweeted, “Colombia has full confidence in the solidity of the institutions of the United States of America, as well as in the values of respect for democracy and the rule of law shared by our countries since the beginning of our republican life.” Marcelo Freixo, a leftist parliamentarian in Brazil, related the situation to Brazil, writing, “Every battle against the coup extreme right is fundamental, on all fronts, on the streets and in institutions. The next one will be for the presidency of the Chamber. We cannot let Bolsonaro advance over Congress. We have to stop him. Just like Trump has to be stopped in the U.S.”
Sebastian Piñera, the president of Chile, condemned the violence as well and tweeted, “Chile rejects actions aimed at altering the democratic process in the United States and condemns violence and undue interference with constitutional institutions. Chile relies on the strength of US democracy to guarantee the rule of law and the rule of law.” In Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza, the foreign affairs minister, tweeted “Venezuela expresses its concern over the acts of violence that are taking place in the city of Washington, USA; condemns political polarization and aspires that the American people can blaze a new path toward stability and social justice.” President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro has not officially commented, but has retweeted several accounts calling the situation a “fascist insurrection.”
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote, “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld - and it will be.”
In many ways, these calls for de-escalation, peace, and respecting the democratic process echo the very same messages the United States has sent in the past, coupled with sanctions and strongly worded rebukes, leading critics to accuse the country of hypocritical political posturing. Now, as armed militants occupy U.S. government offices, those former calls for peace and security ring hollow.