Jan. 6 riot weakened Congress’ soft power abroad, experts say

“For U.S. partners in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, however, Washington’s priorities on the world stage must now be interrogated, and any conclusions reached must be held with qualifications rather than confidence,” Jonathan Kirshner, a political science and international studies professor at Boston College, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine. “From now on, all countries, everywhere, must hedge their bets about the United States.”

The millions more votes Trump received in 2020 compared to 2016 “put to rest the comforting fable that Trump’s election was a fluke,” said Kirshner, arguing that foreign countries are likely to act in a more pragmatic, even transactional manner toward Washington going forward as they “don’t have the luxury of clinging to some idealized version of the United States’ national character.”

In a recent interview with Axios, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he was “very shocked” by the attack on the Capitol and called it a “strong blow” to U.S. democracy going forward.

In 2019, Zelenskiy saw the longtime bipartisan congressional support for foreign aid to his government thrown into doubt after Republicans hesitated to condemn Trump’s efforts to hold hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally directed security assistance to Ukraine hostage to his demand for Zelenskiy to order an investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter.

“We’re used to seeing in books, in films, in television, we are used to believe that the United States has the ideal democratic institutions, where power is transferred calmly, without war, without revolutions, power is passed from one presidency to another,” Zelenskiy told Axios through a translator. “After something like this, I believe it would be very difficult for the world to see the United States as a symbol of democracy.”

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