What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Insurrection at Capitol draws condemnation across the globe

For years American adversaries argued democracy is too messy to be trusted, and Wednesday’s events gave them new ammunition. But while many U.S. allies lauded that democracy has prevailed after Joe Biden was certified as the next president, some were worried about the fragility of freedom. Nick Schifrin reports on reactions to the Capitol attack from around the globe.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The events of yesterday also reverberated around the globe.

    Nick Schifrin reports on the world's reaction.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    For years, America's adversaries have argued democracy is too messy to be trusted. Yesterday gave them ammunition.

    In Russia, where Vladimir Putin claims only a strong government can keep Russians safe, state TV said the U.S. was no longer credible.

  • Man (through translator):

    The United States lost all the rights to pursue the democratic path and lost their rights to impose it on other countries.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In China, the nationalist tabloid Global Times accused the U.S. of double standards, for calling yesterday a riot, but praising Hong Kong demonstrators who in 2019 broke into the legislative council.

    That was repeated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who singled out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

  • Hua Chunying (through translator):

    Pompeo said that he wanted to free Hong Kong people from oppression. He should open his eyes and look at the people in China and Hong Kong today. We are living a good life. It is the American people who should be liberated and rescued.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Never mind that Chinese President Xi Jinping stifles all domestic dissent.

    And just yesterday, Hong Kong police, on Beijing's behalf, arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists, and accused them of subversion. Yesterday's failed insurrection provided the opportunity for countries to deflect and present the U.S. as weak and hypocritical.

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:

  • President Hassan Rouhani (through translator):

    What we saw last night and today in America firstly proved what a failure the Western democracy is and how fragile its foundation is.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In Europe, there was hand-wringing and shock. In French, "A Fractured Democracy and Chaos in Washington." In Italian, "The End" and "Day of the Coup."

    Many leaders expressed faith in America long-term. French President Emmanuel Macron:

  • President Emmanuel Macron:

    What happened today in Washington, D.C., is not America, definitely. We believe in the strength of American democracy.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

    All my life, America has stood for some very important things, an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy. And all I can say is, I'm very pleased that the president-elect has now been properly, duly confirmed in office and that democracy has prevailed.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel (through translator):

    I am very relieved that we have just received the news that the certification has been made in Congress, that Joe Biden will be the next president. Democratic forces have prevailed. I always knew and expected that of the United States of America.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Of all leaders, Western European leaders are perhaps most looking forward to a reset under Biden and the end of the Trump administration.

    Many painted President Trump as the problem. A French TV correspondent accused Trump's supporters of being brainwashed.

  • Jean-Bernard Cadier (through translator):

    They are Donald Trump supporters who follow Donald Trump like members of a cult.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But many U.S. allies are worried about the fragility of freedom post-Trump. They fear, if it can happen to the U.S., it can happen anywhere.

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen:

  • Ursula von der Leyen (through translator):

    Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but every democracy has to stand up and prove its resilience as well.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison:

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison:

    This is a difficult time for the United States, clearly. They are a great friend of Australia and they're one of the world's greatest democracies.

    And so we just — our thoughts are with them, and we hope for that peaceful transition to take place.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Those thoughts and prayers aren't repeated in the countries where the U.S. has tried, but largely failed to impose democracy.

    Ali Abdulla lives in Baghdad.

  • Ali Abdulla (through translator):

    They claim that they have democracy for their own people, but it's only a theater. It doesn't exist. They tried to show a false image about Arab countries, saying that we are disorganized. But look at them.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In the end, U.S. democracy was delayed, not denied. The world will soon have a new American president.

    But America at its best has always been a beacon on the hill. And for allies and adversaries, that light has been dimmed.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

Listen to this Segment