By Joseph Brown | United States
A lot has happened since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Yet, persisting through it all is the claim that the Russians got him there. Opponents of the current administration repeatedly cite Russian involvement to explain their defeat at the polls during the past presidential race, with a recent Senatorial report claiming that the Kremlin used numerous techniques to undermine the American political process. This report, among others, echoes the same apocalyptic message: the modern democratic process is under attack.
They’re right… At least, sort of.
First of all, the Department of Justice has recently concluded that this “unprecedented assault on Democracy” consisted of approximately $100,000 worth of Facebook advertisements. The vast majority of these were single pictures with simple slogans on them. This creates two possible scenarios. Either the iconic democratic process of the United States is fragile enough to be hopelessly toppled by a few memes, or the real problem is embedded deeper within American society.
The Russians may be the latest scapegoat of America’s politicians, but they certainly aren’t the most guilty. Democratic leaders are quick to condemn foreign powers of bearing responsibility for the outcome of domestic elections, yet over sixty percent of eligible voters neglected to vote in the most recent midterm elections. Were the Russians guilty of that too?
In the dynamic body of American civics, loyalty lies with the highest bidder. The deliberate cherry picking of outside influences shows that the Russian witch hunt in America is not about security. Rather, it relates to vested interests and agendas. The lack of federal transparency and accountability has led to degradation of the democratic process, not only within the States, but abroad as well. In fact, American involvement in foreign affairs far surpasses that of other nations in our affairs.
Since 1946, the United States has directly supported or interfered in the elections of over 80 countries; providing campaign aid, fiscal funding, training, and consultation to members of competing political parties that appeal to them. Imagine the outrage that would ensue if these statistics were true of Russia, or Iran. Dov Levin, an academic from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, calculated the vast scale of election interventions by the U.S. The results, calculated since the close of WWII, were astonishing. He determined American interests influenced 1 of every 9 worldwide competitive elections. Such meddling has occured across the globe, from Guatemala to Japan.
As far as the U.S. is concerned, bribe tactics have always been a favorite method of ensuring the outcomes of elections. Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars, describes tactics used by the U.S. to guarantee these results. He said on the subject: “We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947…We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of Cash.”
Such was the case of the “democratic” elections of Italy. During them, American Intelligence Agencies paid political candidates to support their campaigns, or to drop out entirely. F. Mark Wyatt, a former C.I.A. officer, said in a 1996 interview: “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their expenses.”
If online ads are threats to international order, what does that make this?
As history repeats itself across the world, the very meaning of the word “democracy” changes from a government who proportionally represents its people, to a gang of wealthy puppets of American policy. Remember those 80+ countries whose elections the U.S. manipulated? It doesn’t even include situations when the U.S. staged a coup, regime change, or government overthrow. Bags of cash and propaganda are dirty tactics for sure, but they’re nothing compared to the darkness of American nation building. Since 1946, the United States has overthrown the legitimate governments of 35 nations, and is responsible for political upheaval that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
One of such cases is American involvement in El Salvador. Their society still bears the scars of American intervention to this day. After a coup staged by the United States was met with resistance from opposition groups, the country fell into 12 bitter years of civil war. The U.S. was deeply invested in the conflict, providing weapons, ammunition, and training to government forces. Ranking officers of the U.S. military even held senior positions in the Salvadorian army. Between 1980 and 1992, over 75,000 people were slaughtered, with the United Nations Truth Commission reporting that more than 85 percent of the killings, kidnappings, and torture had been the work of government forces.
Furthermore, In the Republic of Iran in 1951, the CIA overthrew enormously popular and democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh had angered British powers when he nationalized the Iranian oil industry by unanimous vote in a democratic government. Angry that their colonial victim had given them the boot, British lobbyists convinced the United States to force Mossadegh from power. By supporting thugs and street gangs, the U.S. led a coup that killed hundreds of people, and eventually led to the radical uprising that governs Iran to this day.
Just in case you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the United States has consciously authorized the kidnapping of candidates, propped up authoritarian dictators, employed fascists, supplied terrorists, and compiled blacklists of political opponents for puppet governments to execute.
Just so we’re clear, the death toll of Putin’s memes is still zero.
“But listen” people will say. “Sure these things are bad, but the U.S. was fighting to preserve freedom.” or maybe “It’s different when we do it.” But “Do as we say, not as we do” is not a legitimate philosophy, and we should not treat it as such.
Sure. Foreign governments are involved, in one way or another, in influencing American elections. But don’t let the headliners and political maneuvering distract you from the truth: If the modern democratic process is broken, its blood is on the hands of the United States.
These sobering witnesses from around the world echo the message that the politicians on capitol hill aren’t willing to admit:
The single greatest threat to democracy is the United States government.