Washington drastically barricaded itself ahead of Joe Biden's nomination -

NSB / Nick Stern / WENN / SIPA

  • This Wednesday, Joe Biden will be sworn in during his inauguration, officially becoming the new president of the United States

  • A normally festive event but one which greatly worries the authorities this year in view of the tensions between supporters of Trump and Biden and the deadly violence on Capitol Hill on January 6.

  • As a result, the city has grown even stronger than usual.

Deserted streets, no one outside except police officers and journalists, the song of birds which alone disturbs the silence ... Washington would almost look like confined cities, if it were not for the some 21,000 members of the National Guard deployed in the center -City, ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration this Wednesday.

By way of comparison, they were only 8,000 for the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017 and 6,000 for the second term of Barack Obama in 2013, proof of the state of exceptional tension in which the country finds itself.

There will be more US troops in Washington on Wednesday than there are currently in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The city is still reeling from the attack on the Capitol on January 6 and fears the worst is yet to come this Wednesday.

“According to the FBI, the risk is maximum.

There have already been eventful investitures in the past, notably those of Richard Nixon in 1969 and George Bush in 2001. But nothing like this had ever been announced ”, informs Romain Huret, director of studies at EHESS and historian of the United States.

Washington in a vacuum

As a result of this risk, Washington has turned in on itself and is now living in a vacuum.

AirBnB canceled all reservations in the city during this week, a step also taken by many hotels in the city.

The bridges that connect the city to Virginia were closed, as well as several subway stations.

The goal?

“Ensure that zealous far-right supporters do not enter the city, making it inaccessible.

Staying in Washington is now almost impossible, ”notes Charles Voisin, specialist in US domestic policy.

A control that even applies to the National Guard.

"In coordination with the Secret Service and the FBI, all the military who arrived were screened," said General Daniel Hokanson, who heads the National Guard Bureau.

In a recent letter to US troops, the chiefs of staff asserted that the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill were "incompatible with the rule of law" and called on soldiers to "embody the values ​​and ideals of the nation ".

The coronavirus, a new change

Should we then be worried about an attack from the National Guard itself?

Little risk according to Romain Huret.

While it is true that the US military is rather favorable to the Republican Party, “it is totally legitimist.

At this stage, and despite rumors, nothing suggests that she will not serve her new chef this Wednesday evening: Joe Biden.

For the expert, the risk comes more from paramilitary groups and militias, estimated at nearly 1,000 across the country.

Another strangeness in the city, the businesses are barricaded, certain streets blocked by piles of cement.

"All of downtown Washington is a ghost town," describes Charles Voisin.

This control situation is nevertheless facilitated in a certain way by the coronavirus.

In the midst of the third deadly wave, the United States has abandoned the traditional crowd gatherings for the inauguration, usually experienced as a day of celebration and celebration.

An austere investiture

The two experts interviewed therefore agree, the risks in Washington are minimal given the security in place.

But Romain Huret is worried: “What will happen elsewhere?

The country is huge and there is no shortage of places to be heard.

For Charles Voisin, the extreme right, dissuaded from taking action in Washington, risks striking in other less protected states.

There remains one last question concerning the nomination, will this hypersecurity atmosphere in Washington not tarnish the image of Joe Biden and start his mandate badly?

Not at all according to Charles Voisin, who indicates: “In view of the health situation in the United States, an overly festive atmosphere would have been badly perceived.

Joe Biden wants to give the image of a president taking the measure of the gravity of his time and the challenges to be met, this nomination is thus coherent and does not take it lacking.

“An investiture placed under the sign of the Covid and the national division, these first two huge projects.


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