America's Adversaries Revel in Capitol Chaos, Say It Shows Failure of Democracy

Countries often on the receiving end of criticism by Washington for falling short of democratic ideals have used the chaos in the Capitol as an opportunity to tell the U.S. it should practice what it preaches.

After supporters of President Donald Trump broke into and ransacked the government building, scenes of the clashes, tear gas and bullets fired led officials in Russia, China and Iran to question how the U.S. could still consider itself an exporter of democracy.

Russian foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on her Facebook page a comment by a user that said: "The United States will never again be able to tell the world that we are the paragon of democracy."

Zakharova then started a Facebook post by saying it was no business of the Kremlin to comment on the internal affairs of the U.S.—before going on to do just that.

Capitol protests of Trump supporters
Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Foreign leaders have reacted with dismay to the scenes of chaos at the heart of American democracy. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

"We reiterate that the electoral system in the United States is archaic, it does not meet modern democratic standards," she wrote in the post, adding that such a system "creates opportunities for multiple violations, and the American media has become a tool for political struggle."

"This was largely the cause of the division of society now observed in the United States," she added.

Earlier, Russia's first deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, described the scenes as "Maidan-style," referring to the popular uprising that ousted the Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 which Putin claimed was sponsored by the U.S.

"Some of my friends ask whether someone will distribute crackers to the protesters," Polyanskiy tweeted, a mocking reference to then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland who offered food to demonstrators in Kyiv.

A sentiment of "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" also seemed to shape the reaction from China. It compared Wednesday's unrest to the protests in Hong Kong in 2019 when crowds stormed and vandalized the legislative building in the city.

Relations between Beijing and Washington have worsened under the Trump administration over disputes, including China's heavy crackdown on Hong Kong.

Foreign affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that while events in Hong Kong in 2019 were more "severe" than those in Washington, at least "not one demonstrator died."

She also referred to remarks made by the U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi who once called the Hong Kong protests a "beautiful sight to behold."

Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times tweeted how people should reflect on why the media in the U.S. gave a "different narrative" on the social turmoil in Hong Kong in 2019."

Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran which has suffered under U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, said in a televised speech, according to Reuters, that the chaos in Washington, D.C. "showed what a failure Western democracy is," adding, "a populist man (Trump) damaged the reputation of his country."

Jorge Arreaza, the foreign minister of Venezuela, a country also subject to U.S. sanctions and criticism over its human rights record, said that the U.S. "is experiencing what it has generated in other countries with its policies of aggression."

He said in a statement that the violence "does nothing but reflect the deep crisis that the United States political and social system is currently undergoing."

The graphic below by Statista shows how Americans feel about the use of violence to promote political goals.

Statista graphic on political violence
Graphic on how U.S. adults feel about using violence to advance political goals. Statista