The popular Netflix series “The Crown” impressively depicts the situation from 1968, when a group of financial and media powerful people in Great Britain, dissatisfied with the Harold Wilson’s Labour government, proposed to Lord Mountbatten to lead the organization that would carry out the coup. He explained to them what were the experiences with the coups of previous years in Africa, how many soldiers and police were needed for the success of the coup, and estimated that 150,000 loyal soldiers and 40,000 policemen were needed for a similar action in Britain. In the end, refusing to support the coup attempt, he explained that in Britain, it is not possible to change the legally elected government by force, because democracy is in the first place and there is no greater interest that would annul that fact.
Lord Mountbatten, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and the uncle of her husband, Prince Philip, died in 1979 in an IRA terrorist operation, but if he were alive, there is no doubt that he would give the same advice to Donald Trump in the last days of his presidency. Not to try to achieve a political goal in America with violence and coup, because in it, as in Britain, democracy is the highest social value, which will always have more guardians than opponents.
Not without reason, for the violent intrusion of Trump’s supporters into the building of the American Congress, many said, on the same night, that the coup attempt was led by the current head of state. He called on supporters to protest, encouraging them to use violence (“Be there, will be wild!”), all in order to prevent the Congress from doing its job prescribed by the Constitution, to verify the election results and the victory of Joe Biden. Whether any legal and political action against Trump will go in this direction after his departure from the White House is another, less important question at this moment. What astonished America and the democratic world is the fact that something happened in Washington that was unthinkable so far – an attempt to prevent a peaceful change of government. Until the night of the violence in Congress, something like that was “reserved” only for states with weak democratic institutions, “third world” countries or “banana republics”, as one American congressman called his own country while the break-in into Congress was still ongoing.
In the first days of January, America plunged into the society of those countries where violence against democracy and its institutions is possible. The moment the first protesters broke into the hall of the Congress, in order to prevent its work, the United States entered a new historical period. Those few hours of violence and uncertainty, after which Congress did its constitutional task, and democracy returned to the saddle, put the United States in the same basket with all those countries where it is conceivable that the mob can put democracy on thin ice. This fact will, in the long run, diminish the credibility of the United States and all its governmental and non-governmental political potentials, to tell others where they have gone wrong. Or, as Arwa Damon, a CNN commentator, put it very precisely, “Let’s not look down any longer on nations whose people are fighting and striving for democracy with a moral superiority, but instead with understanding and empathy.”
So, also for Serbia, which was in a very similar situation in July, when its police legally prevented the intrusion of nationalist extremists into the Assembly, while protecting its democracy. But it has received a lot of criticism for the alleged excessive use of force and even violence against the opposition. It would be very interesting if we got a report from Freedom House, or some similar American organization, which would compare the actions of the state in front of the parliaments in Belgrade in July and in Washington in January. We believe that the Belgrade action would now be assessed as flawless. Regardless, no one in the world should rejoice over the events in Washington. For a moment, the world’s largest and most influential democracy was endangered, the values on which the modern world was built were endangered. America has shown its full internal strength and defended democracy, not only at home, but in the whole world. For four years, it was threatened by the policy of an irresponsible man, who renounced everything that makes America the leader of the modern world. He tried to turn it into a closed, nationalist state, abandoning international agreements and strategic partnerships, opening trade wars with everyone, destroying the order that had been built for decades and in which the United States was the undisputed leader. At the risk of sounding like an arrogant author, quoting myself, I will mention that in the book “Two Faces of Globalization – Truth and Deceptions” from 2019, in the chapter “Detrumpization of America”, I predicted everything that happened during the elections in the USA and after them, as the final danger in which the leadership of a man unworthy of that function and the state he led will bring America. At the same time, I wrote about the great importance of America’s return to the system of values on which it rested until Donald Trump came to power. This chapter of life is at the very end and has a happy outcome, although not without scars. They will be a warning of an ugly episode in which it was shown that no democracy, even if it was as big as the American one, is immune to attacks that threaten it with death. But it will also be a reminder that there is no danger that democracy cannot resist, if it is great and rooted in society. Just like the American.