We Need 20,000 National Guard Troops For Trump's 'Peaceful' Transfer Of Power
How many deadly invasions of the US Capitol does it take to get Washington officials to take the threat of rightwing terrorism seriously? Just the one, apparently, because the security arrangements for Joe Biden's inauguration next Wednesday will include deployment of more than 20,000 National Guard members to the DC area, including the perfectly normal sight of Guard troops sacked out on rest breaks on the floors of the Capitol itself, while the House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach Donald Trump a second time.
Rep Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) called attention to the weird irony during the hearing:
Rep. Moulton, who was decorated for his service in the Iraq War, could probably identify with the Guard troops resting in the Capitol, like any soldiers might when on a mission to protect an endangered US ally. Particularly since Politico and other outlets are reporting that the National Guard members sent to DC received briefings telling them to watch out for improvised explosive devices that might be used by Trumpers in the nation's capital.
Also, we should add that the Guard isn't actual doing a Bel Bivouac Devoe in the Capitol, as the Washington Post helpfully explains:
The guardsmen were resting between shifts, D.C. Guard officials said in a statement, stressing that they were not sleeping on the floor because of a lack of sleeping arrangements. Local hotels are accommodating the service members, officials said.
We suppose the brass decided something had to be done to politely let people know they can stop offering to send cots and yoga mats to the Capitol. Also, coverage of the Guard in DC has been careful to note that virtually all the soldiers are careful to wear masks, which is more than we can say for roughly half the legislators they're supposed to be protecting.
So here we are, following an attempted coup by followers of a defeated "president" who refused to accept that another candidate won the election. The seat of our legislature looks like a government ministry occupied by invaders, or more accurately, by peacekeepers sent to ensure the orderly transition of power under the recent election — and to protect it from heavily armed insurgents. The real invaders were driven off a week ago, but we have to bring in a show of force, to make sure they don't show up again in an improvised war caravan.
What a country!
This isn't the first time troops have been inside the Capitol; during the Civil War, Union troops were actually using the building, whose dome was still under construction, as a barracks. The sight of those uncouth volunteers shocked some of the more genteel members of the House and Senate.
The troops back then had discipline problems that sound more like some of the vandalism the Trumpers got up to:
Emotions ran high. At one point, they boiled over when soldiers discovered the desk of Jefferson Davis, the former Mississippi senator and newly elected president of the Confederacy.
The men took their bayonets to the wooden workspace of the Southerner, but were stopped by Senate doorkeeper Isaac Bassett, he recalled in his memoir.
"I ran in among them and told them it was not his desk, that it belonged to the government," he wrote.
"You were put here to protect, and not to destroy!" he shouted at the troops. "They stopped immediately and said I was right, they thought it belonged to Jefferson Davis."
Far more civilized than the people looking to lynch Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi.
Oddly, I'm not especially freaked out by the sight of soldiers in the Capitol, and not simply because I'd rather see actual Guard members there than paramilitaries and Captain Moroni cosplayers, like Shartacus here, who think they're part of God's plan:
How have I not seen this guy before? https://t.co/qlmMMSW4bm— Schooley (@Schooley) 1610604125.0
I understand the case for unease over all this: America shouldn't be a place where the Guardia Nacional is needed to make sure the election isn't overturned by a bunch of armed thugs. And especially not when those armed thugs have been called to DC by the candidate who refuses to accept the results of the vote. That stuff belongs in Graham Greene novels, not on the cable news. (Also, yes, I recognize just how absurd it is to use terms evoking "banana republics," most of which came into being with the help of US imperialism in the first place.)
I guess part of my lack of freaking out is the sense that Donald Trump's dreams of becoming a strongman — like his pals Rodrigo Duterte and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — were thwarted, and because there's at least some certainty the National Guard will pick up and go home once Joe Biden is sworn in.
At least, assuming those IED briefings were only preventative measures, and we don't see something even more horrible than the January 6 invasion happen next Wednesday, or this weekend. The whole idea here is to have plans in place, like road closures and all those National Guard people, to discourage domestic terrorists who were able to waltz right into the Capitol last week. (Those guys are terrible dancers.)
The Washington Post offers some encouraging evidence that the Trumpistas, for all their talk of coming back to DC to stop Joe Biden from taking office, may be paying attention to the presence of the Guard troops:
Officials and analysts monitoring online posts and message threads said some far-right groups appeared to be backing down from plans to come to Washington in coming days, at least in part owing to the National Guard and law enforcement presence.
Some rightwing groups are even using their most potent improvised bullshit rhetoric to warn followers away from DC next week, the Post says, by claiming that "protests planned for Sunday in D.C. and in state capitals are part of a 'false flag' operation meant to lure them into the hands of law enforcement." The Post helpfully adds that that's not really true.
Still, let's hope that represents some kind of trend, and that the same people who went from bragging about how they were going to defeat communism by overthrowing the election will now think twice, without having to actually face federal charges, or, now, National Guard troops with loaded weapons. And let's hope none of those weapons are needed for anything but being there as a last resort.
Ultimately, cheesily patriotic though it sounds, I'm also glad the Guard is in Washington because its members are on America's side. Look at these fine young Americans!
Other guardsmen marveled at the decor and munched on pizza delivered by lawmakers. Some Black troops posed for a photo in front of a statue of Rosa Parks in the Capitol Rotunda.
Just look at them, in this photo posted to Twitter by the New York Times's Emily Cochrane.
That's pretty good shorthand for the exact opposite of what last week's traitors wanted.
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