A Log in Your Own Eye: Decades of US Meddling in Foreign Elections – By Sputnik

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The obsessive condemnation of still unconfirmed Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election is a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do,” where the US politicians and media seem to have developed both long and short-term memory loss when it comes to American meddling in foreign elections.
Photo: US President Bill Clinton (R) laughing with Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a press conference after their meeting at Hyde Park 23 October 1995. AFP, Don Emmert
With Russia’s presidential election coming up on Sunday, March 18, all eyes are on Moscow where eight candidates will be on the ballot this year. In turn, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) is busy in its preparation to administer the vote, ensuring fair and free procedure, as well as prevention of illegal interference in the election process.

Concerns regarding foreign meddling in the nation’s pivotal vote shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering it was not that long ago when the US interfered in Russia’s internal matters, influencing the outcome of the 1996 presidential election.

Spinning Boris
The popularity rating of then incumbent president Boris Yeltsin plunged to 6% and his chances of winning were next to nothing. In what later was released as Hollywood’s depiction of events, characters of the Spinning Boris film described the president’s standing:

“Stalin is dead. Not as dead as Yeltsin.”

2003 American comedy starred Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia and Liev Schreiber, who portrayed a team of US spin doctors sent to salvage Yeltsin’s image and secure him another four-year term in the office.

The whole ‘rescue effort’ was reportedly orchestrated by Felix Bryanin, a Russian-American businessman who did not relish the prospects of Yeltsin’s chief rivals – the Communist party – winning the election and steering the country back to socialism.

The US didn’t bother covering its tracks, as political consultants Joe Shumate, George Gorton, Richard Dresner and Steven Moore detailed their exploits in an exclusive interview to Time magazine. The article was published on July 15, 1996 under the headline “Yanks to the Rescue – the secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win.”

 
 
Photo: Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Sputnik, Alexander Makarov
According to the Guardian, in 2003 Yeltsin’s former head of staff Sergei Filatov denied the involvement of US spin doctors in the election, claiming that he “never saw them” but “as they had been paid we decided to let them sit quietly in the President Hotel and not interfere.”
‘In the Interests of Democracy’
To some the fact of US interference in foreign politics may come as an eye-opening revelation but definitely not to former CIA director James Woolsey, who just recently admitted that American meddles in other countries “only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”
 
 
The majority of the Russian public are not dumbfounded by the practise either, as new poll revealed that in 2016 almost eighty percent of Russians thought the United States meddled “a great deal” or “a fair amount” in Russian politics.
Photo: Viewers during a holiday concert devoted to Russia Day on Red Square. Sputnik, Ramil Sitdikov
The US attempts at steering the political processes abroad were neither limited to Russia alone nor did they begin in the 1990s. Moreover, it won’t come as a surprise if the US “policy of interference” continues in the future, considering the rich history of such activity by Washington in the past.

The “impressive” record of forcing their political agenda on foreign governments by the US reveals a list of numerous cases, which include but are not limited to the following.

ITALY
In their effort to support non-Communist forces in post-war Italy, the US administration under Harry Truman flexed its political and financial muscle to influence the outcome of Italian elections in 1948.

The US threw their weight behind the Christian Democracy party, who defeated the left-wing coalition of the Popular Democratic Front, through generous monetary support, which former CIA officer F. Mark Wyatt simply described as “bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians.”

 
 
Photo: Italy’s Premier Alcide de Gasperi, at microphone, addresses a huge crowd from the balcony of the Christian Democrat Party Headquarters in Rome, Italy, on April 21, 1948. AP
“And, we did many things to assist those selected Christian Democrats, Republicans and… and the other parties… that could keep the secret of where their funds came from,” Wyatt said in a 1996 interview.
 
Guatemala
“Stay out of this hemisphere and don’t try to start your plans and your conspiracies over here,” Henry Cabot Lodge, US ambassador to the UN, warned his Soviet counterpart during a UN emergency session on June 18, 1954.
But US activity didn’t stop at finger-wagging and in 1954 the democratically elected leader of Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown by the CIA-backed coup and forced into exile. The Eisenhower administration portrayed the coup as a revolt meant to clear the region of a perceived Communist threat – something that was facilitated by the US corporation the United Fruit Company (UFC).
“Once he took power, he was implanting this policy. The UFC didn’t like that very much and they hired a PR firm to convince the US that Arbenz was a Soviet puppet… Out of this PR campaign came a commitment by the CIA and the military to take this man out and in fact we did,” the author of the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins explained.
Lebanon
The fire of impending unrest in 1958 Lebanon, fuelled by confrontation between Maronite Christians and Muslims, was put out by Washington’s ‘helping hand’, which backed the pro-western Christian President Camille Chamoun against perceived threats posed by Syria and Egypt.
 
 
Photo: Former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun conducts business over the telephone at his National Liberty Party headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, July 9, 1963. Chamoun stated: “If Lebanon’s independence were threatened as in 1958, I would certainly appeal to any Nation”. AP
Around the same time the CIA used the US government money and donations by American oil companies to help Christian politicians in Lebanon win the elections.
Japan
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s the US secretly supported the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), providing covert financial support to its candidates without hesitation. The LDP have been in power in Japan since 1995 till modern days with minor gaps in between.
 
 
Photo: Socialist party members rough up a plain-clothes policeman during a scuffle between left wingers and riot police near the parliament building in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 1965. The demonstrators, supporting the Socialist and Communist parties, opposed the normalization pact which they contended is aimed at a Japan-South Korea-U.S. military alliance, after ruling Liberal-Democratic party rammed the ratification bill for the treaty through the special ad hoc committee of parliament’s Lower House. AP Photo, Nobuyuki Masaki
In 1950s their main opposition were the left-wingers – the Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party. Interested in preserving LDP’s authority, the CIA provided financial backing to the party to ensure its dominance over its Communist counterparts.
Serbia
In 1999, the US and their NATO allies have intensified their efforts in ‘fighting for democracy’ – this time in then Yugoslavia. Thanks to their considerate assistance, the democratically-elected Yugoslav government had been toppled and millions of US dollars were poured into what Washington called “democratic opposition.”
 
 
Photo: Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes. AFP, Serbian TV
“In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation,” George Kenney of the US state department kindly explained.
Honduras
Manuel Zelaya was ousted as Honduras’ president in a military coup on June 28, 2009. His post was taken over by parliament Speaker Roberto Micheletti. Hillary Clinton who held the post of the US Secretary of State at the time cemented Micheletti’s position, according to an article citing inquiry conducted by Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot and Alexander Main, following the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails by the Department of State in March 2015.
 
 
Photo: A masked supporter of Honduras’ ousted President Manuel Zelaya demonstrates as soldiers stand guard outside Congress in Tegucigalpa, Friday, July 31, 2009. AP, Arnulfo Franco
It is further alleged that she deliberately delayed the suspension of US non-humanitarian aid to Honduras, under the excuse that the situation in the country was “still unclear.” Clinton’s action reportedly ensured that Zelaya wouldn’t be restored, despite the fact that the coup was officially opposed by the Obama administration and the UN.
 
 
Photo: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. AP, Patrick Semansky
Ukraine
A number of questions arise around America’s role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, following a series of violent protests.

The US Senator John McCain was in Kiev during the start of the unrest. A leading Republican voice on US foreign policy, McCain told thousands of Ukrainian protesters camped on Kiev’s main square in December 2013:

“We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”

 
 
Photo: US Senators Chris Murphy and John McCain cheer up the supporters of Ukraine’s European integration at Maidan square in Kiev, Ukraine, Dec 12, 2013. Sputnik, Ilya Pitalev
Later, a leaked phone conversation between then US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland hinted at extensive involvement.

They spoke about the need to “midwife this thing” and said Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk was “the guy”, shortly before he became prime minister.

Commenting on Washington’s attitude towards foreign meddling, Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., former staff director of the US Senate’s Church committee told the New York Times in 1997 “the United States has certainly engaged in these things, but we get all up in arms when someone else does.”

”The things the CIA cited as successes really weren’t successes. ‘They were an arrogant exercise of our power to intervene in domestic affairs,” he added.

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