DES MOINES, Iowa — As protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol, one Iowan and former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia predicted this days ago.
“Well, I’m unbelievably saddened. I don’t think many people would ever imagine there’d be something like this,” Former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth Quinn said.
But Quinn was not surprised by the protests at the U.S. Capitol.
“I predicted that’s what would happen, that there would be violence, that would be aimed at stopping and would succeed in stopping the count of the presidential election results by the House and the Senate,” Quinn said.
As a member of Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1975 and after serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia between 1996 and 1999, Quinn has studied, reported and ran security for many mass protests.
“And the question often came down to, does the…do the authorities shoot the demonstrators or not” Now, in most of those situations it was the authoritarians who shot the protesters who were struggling for democracy. Here, the situation, I guess depends on which side you know and how you view the election and everything. But there was a democratic constitutional process going on that was assaulted and stopped,” Quinn said.
While watching the protests on TV, Quinn said the U.S. Capitol was not sufficiently protected. Referring back to the late 1970’s when he worked for Governor Ray.
“Each year, when we had our World Food Prize events in the state capitol, there would be protesters. And the, what was clear at the state capitol, was that there’s a very clear chain of command. There was a state police officer who was very well organized very effective. He was part of the Capitol Security Police, and we dealt with him, and he had sole responsibility, and he decided who could go where what they could do where protesters would be,” Quinn said.
As the nation watches the situation unfold in D.C., Quinn hopes it brings people together across party lines.
“And a desire to say, what’s most important above all, is our constitutional process, these are democratic processes, because, after all, that’s, that’s what has made our democracy, so unique. Because if that doesn’t happen, then this long string, several 100 years of being the longest continuous operating democracy in the world, May arguably be at an end or interrupted. And I’m praying, that’s not the case,” Quinn said.