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There was deep uncertainty as to what the events of Jan. January testify about the trajectory of our great friend and ally

And there was concern – verging on fear – about what will happen in the next 12 days while US President Donald Trump remains in the White House

The live vision of the Capitol mayhem spread across social media and television as Australians woke up Thursday morning to show Senators and Congressmen barricading themselves behind doors while armed protesters demolished offices and posed for bizarre selfies

Backbenchers on both sides of the aisle also used social media to condemn the madness

“A shameful, shameful attempt to forcibly reverse an election result suggested by ruthless political leaders and thereby violate the fundamental principles of democracy,” wrote former diplomat and Liberal MP Dave Sharma

“As President-elect Biden said, this is not a protest – it is a riot A dark and shameful day”

That sense of shock also rebounded among Australian foreign policy analysts and experts trying to grapple with the full ramifications of the political psychosis that now seems to be gripping millions of Americans

Former Australian intelligence chief and senior bureaucrat Allan Gyngell has spent decades watching US politics – but he immediately admitted that he was a bit baffled by what happened Thursday morning

Mr. Gyngell now believes there is evidence that the increasingly unpredictable Donald Trump has been “detached from reality”

Mr Trump has been suspended from social media sites for inciting violence and is being requested to take part in the 25th Change is charged or even forced out of office

Even if there are no more major disruptions and President-elect Joe Biden on Aug. January is safely taken into office, big questions remain unanswered

And large numbers of Americans now seem trapped in a vast disinformation ecosystem fueled by nativism, conspiracy theories, and paranoia

“US allies will welcome Biden’s arrival but how much do you depend on the United States if you believe the fever has not broken and we risk a return of Trumpism in four years? ”Mr Gyngell asked

“Can Australia now depend on a United States return closer to what we know, or is there a chance four years from now that we will be back with Trumpism, either Trump himself or some variant of it?”

The Australian government will be relieved when a knowledgeable and well-known team of US foreign policy makers returns to the White House after four unpredictable years under Trump

But the deep political divisions in Washington and the United States will inevitably destroy the energy and political capital of the new administration

The turmoil in Congress – and the fact that roughly half of Republicans remained ready to contest Mr Biden’s election, even after the mess created by Mr Trump – illustrates the scale of that challenge

Mr Gyngell said foreign policy will inevitably be a “second-order problem” for the Biden administration as it deals with problems at home

“You won’t have much time to think about the rest of the world. Dealing with the pandemic, the economy that deals with the dysfunction of the political system, will take tremendous energy and effort,” he said

Will the damage to US reputation undermine the new administration’s efforts to restore multilateral diplomacy in Asia? Will the Biden government have the will or focus to rebuild the regional coalitions that are vital to balancing a resurgent and increasingly authoritarian China?

These are tough and tough questions, ones you’d rather not pose about a country that is not only your stronghold of security but also your most important global ally

So far, Scott Morrison has walked a fine line, repeatedly voicing his distress and concern about the violence in Washington, while at the same time emphasizing his trust in US institutions and being careful not to criticize Mr. Trump directly

“It is not my job to comment on other leaders. I am not doing this out of respect for these nations,” he told reporters in Canberra

“I have expressed my great concern and concern about what has happened in the United States, as have other leaders of the world’s democracies, and I agree with their view”

Some Labor MPs were quick to label his response weak, accusing Mr Morrison of getting too close to the US President

But government insiders point out that very few world leaders have condemned Mr Trump directly, and they argue that Australia has nothing to gain if it gets involved in a vicious partisan brawl in the US

The question then arises whether the Australian Parliament could be vulnerable to some of the political pathologies that have hit the United States

Labor has repeatedly attacked a small handful of coalition MPs who got a grip on some of the pro-Trump conspiracy theories circulating online

On Thursday, Mr Morrison was asked by reporters if he would condemn Backbencher for spreading discredited allegations of the theft of votes in the US election

Mr Morrison wiped the question off and simply said Australia was a country with free speech

This sparked a sour reaction from Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, who said the prime minister reacted more to Australia Post’s reveal of buying Cartier watches for its executives than to domestic misinformation

“Morrison is outraged by Cartier watches but has nothing to say about the dangerous and unfounded conspiracies being pursued by the coalition backbenches,” Dreyfus said in a statement

And while foreign policy watchers do not believe that the disinformation campaigns plaguing the US will find the same fertile soil here in Australia, they are on high alert

As a source noted Thursday when the US Capitol fell into chaos, “we need to watch this stuff very, very closely”

“With the [information] ecosystem we all have now, things can change in an instant

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World News – AU – Fear borders on fear as Canberra watches US drama