Joe Biden, who has made the defense of the democratic model one of his priorities, appeared aware of the damage inflicted on the image of the United States during a solemn address Tuesday evening at the White House, after returning from a tour diplomacy in Asia.
“What struck me during this 17-hour flight, what struck me, is that it’s rare for this kind of mass killing to happen anywhere else in the world,” said the US president, who had visited the site of a racist massacre in Buffalo, in the northeast of the country, 10 days earlier.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who rarely speaks on US internal affairs, said he was “appalled” by the death of 19 children and two teachers by the bullets of an unbalanced teenager, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is at war, deemed the drama “terrible”.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he shares the “anger” of those who oppose the proliferation of firearms in the United States.
Some have politely asked why in the United States, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution and defended by a powerful gun lobby, it is impossible to tackle gun violence, which has claimed 111 lives per day in the country.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, visiting the United States, noted that her government had tightened regulations on the sale of arms after a racist shooting that killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.
“We are a pragmatic people. When we see something like this happen, everyone says never again,” she noted on CBS.
– “Hard to imagine” –
In Australia, where semi-automatic weapons were banned shortly after a mass shooting in 1996, a minister in the new Labor government denounced “a new senseless act of armed violence in the United States”.
“It’s hard to imagine that a great country like the United States could continue like this, with this armed violence, these massacres,” Budget Minister Jim Chalmers told reporters.
As they did during the attack by Donald Trump supporters on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, or during the riots that followed the killing by a white police officer of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, the adversaries of the United States United seized the case.
China, regularly accused by Washington of human rights violations and “genocide” of the Uighur minority, has deemed it “unacceptable” that the United States fails to curb armed violence or racism.
“How can we expect the US government, which does not even care about the rights of its own people, to care sincerely about the human rights situation in other countries”, asked the spokesperson of the diplomacy. Chinese, Wang Wenbin.
The Chinese daily Global Times estimated that the Texas massacre highlighted “the failure” of the United States, “the most dangerous place in the world”.
– “Dysfunctional” democracy –
The United States has long been accused of hypocrisy in its defense of democracy.
During the Cold War, the USSR liked to denounce the racist laws known as “Jim Crow” and more recently, the United States has been criticized, including by its allies, for being the last Western country to apply the penalty of dead.
For Jeremi Suri, from the University of Texas at Austin, authoritarian regimes like to highlight the security of their countries, as Russian President Vladimir Putin does in particular.
But given the level of gun violence, it’s hard to treat the problem as “one of the quirks of American society: We’re cowboys and we carry guns,” he adds.
“The inability to provide minimum security to our citizens reinforces (…) the opinion of some foreigners who believe that democracy is a dysfunctional form of government”, adds this professor of political science.
“Although we have never been perfect at home, defending democracy is an important part of our identity abroad and all this undoubtedly has an impact,” he concludes.
Former French Ambassador to Washington Gérard Araud called gun violence in the United States “madness with no prospect of improvement”.
“Nothing. Nothing will happen. And there will be more massacres,” he tweeted.