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Why Jan. 6 and the fate of U.S. democracy matters beyond America’s borders

The implications of the Jan. 6 attack extend around the world.


On Friday, America marked the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection — when a group of armed rioters tried to stop American democracy in its tracks.

That moment — the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol — was a trauma inflicted not just on the American psyche. It was felt all over the globe, in countries big and small, where the fight for democracy is bloody and ongoing.

When we think about what happened that day, we should consider the implications not just for America, but also the world.

That’s why now seems like a good time to look around and ask the question: How is democracy doing? Is it getting closer or further away?

My mother was raised in a country once called Burma, now known as Myanmar, where the events of Jan. 6 hold powerful resonance. Myanmar is in the middle of a painful and seemingly endless battle for a free, fair, representative government. The kind of place where America and its democracy have long served as a beacon of hope.

Jan. 6 was devastating for the Burmese still fighting for democracy, and especially so because that fight, in the past year, has gotten even more brutal and more deadly. Democracy in many ways seems further away than ever.

This week, Myanmar marked its own national anniversary: independence from British control, 75 years ago. Independence is a tricky word here, because in reality the country has never been free.

“Independence” in Myanmar has always been tied to military rule. And ever since Jan. 4, 1948, that same military has foiled any real attempt at democracy — including today.