Former President Bill Clinton with then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres
Former President Bill Clinton with then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres
KOKOMO – The ugly truth is finally out and now Americans will know that one of the most powerful nations in the world has acted egregiously to interfere in elections to try and influence the outcome. We now know that there was not just interference in one election, but in several. We also know that the interference in elections did not occur in just one country. Several countries’ free elections were affected by the perpetrator.  

Finally, we have also learned that this election interference didn’t just start with the 2016 elections. Electoral interference by this world power has been going on since the end of World War Two.  

Who is this world power that would have the audacity to interfere in free elections?

The United States! That’s who.

Before the good people of the United States start acting like a reformed drunk at a tent revival, we need to hold a mirror up and take a good look at ourselves and our past international conduct. Introspection such as this is not pretty and gives you an upset stomach at times. It also gives some credence to what Colonel Nathan Jessup declared in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”

So, before we good citizens of the bastion of democracy climb up on our high horses and launch a war of indignation, we should take a stroll down memory lane and take a gander at what history reveals.

Carnegie Mellon University political science professor Dov Levin has compiled a database of instances where the United States has attempted to interfere in the lawful elections of other countries. He believes that electoral intervention at the hands of the United States has occurred at least 81 times from 1946-2000. It takes a little time for the truth worm to come squiggling out of the woodwork.

Professor Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results in favor of one of the two sides.” Further, these acts may have been carried out in secret and include funding election campaigns of a specific candidate or party, dissemination of misinformation or propaganda, providing political expertise to one candidate or party and making public pronouncements, threats or providing or withdrawing foreign aid. In short, being naughty boys to try and get what we want.

This whole climbing in the cesspool to teach swimming lessons experience got going in earnest during the 1948 Italian general election. And, as they say in hockey, “We shoot and score.”

The United States threw everything we could at the effort to help elect Christian Democrats over the Communists in Italy. Bags of money to pay campaign expenses, political experts dispatched to help call the shots in the campaign, official government subsidies provided to pork barrel projects such as land reclamation, and open threats for an end to foreign aid should the Communists be elected. Can’t get much more interfering than that.

When Haiti made an attempt at free elections after the overthrow of “Baby Doc” Duvalier, a U. S. ally, the CIA sought to derail the candidacy of Roman Catholic priest and presidential candidate Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When covert political interference wasn’t enough to prevent Aristide, a proponent of liberation theology, from winning the election in a landslide, the CIA relied on the generals who were on its payroll to cast their own votes, ultimately overthrowing a duly elected president. 

In 1996, the United States also directly interfered with the fledgling Russian elections. The Russian economy had been suffering under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and a return to the good old days of totalitarian rule was a distinct possibility. President Clinton endorsed a $10.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund directly linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other economic reforms that would move further along the road to capitalism. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support. He used the money for paying back wages and pensions and other vote inducing social spending.

That same year, President Clinton also engaged in attempting to sway the elections in Israel. Clinton desperately wanted to further the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. He feared that if the Likud Party won the election that Benjamin Netanyahu would scuttle much of the progress toward peace that had been made under the Labor Party’s Shimon Peres. Clinton staged a very public peace conference at Sharm el Sheik to boost the popularity of Peres. Then, just one month before the election, Clinton hosted Peres at the White House in an effort to show the people of Israel who America was supporting. Three years later, Clinton dispatched political mastermind James Carville to Israel to provide election advice and counseling.

The United States also directly provided money and support to influence elections in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Yugoslavia, successfully swinging elections to our favored candidates. Mass murderer Slobodan Milosevic was defeated not by United Nations peacekeepers but by CIA hijinks.

And what about our former President Barack Obama and our current President Donald Trump? When Great Britain staged its monumental referendum on Brexit, the exit of Great Britain from the European Economic Community, did these two men attempt to interfere with the process? Sure, President Obama stated publicly that Brexit would put Great Britain at the rear of the line for future trade talks. If that isn’t a threat, I don’t know one. Trump, on the other hand, publicly endorsed Brexit as a good thing for Great Britain.  Two sides of the same coin in my opinion.

Citing these examples of United States interference in foreign elections is not done in an effort to excuse the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is merely an effort to keep things in perspective and perhaps to shine a little light under the cupboard to watch the roaches run.  

Because the hate factor is so great against Donald Trump, equal to the denial factor that Hilary Clinton could actually lose, the media has tried to de-legitimize our 2016 election as a Russian-interfered victory for their Manchurian Candidate. The potentates of propaganda are hard at work trying to destroy the presidency of Donald Trump by attempting to say that thirteen evil posters on Facebook and social media controlled the outcome of the election, despite the assertion in the Special Prosecutor’s indictment that there is no evidence to support it.

What I am trying to say is that the United States acts in its self-interest around the world and if that self-interest requires meddling in foreign elections, we have and we will do it. As a people, most Americans want their government to act in our self-interest, but we don’t want to know all of the details. It’s kind of like we all know that the United States acquired most of the land west of the Mississippi by hook and by crook, with a little genocide thrown in to boot. And yet, we don’t really want to know all of the gory details.  Old Colonel Jessup was right, “We can’t handle the truth!”

I’ll leave you with a couple of questions for your consideration: Do you think that people in our government who willfully engage in the interference of lawful elections in foreign countries for the expressed purpose of acting in our nation’s self-interest leave all of that hanky-panky at our borders?  

Do you think that government officials who will tread on the freedoms of other countries to help us attain our objectives would never be tempted to use their positions to interfere in our own elections or to de-legitimize the election of someone they hated?

Time for me to go back down the rabbit hole. 

Dunn is the formrer Howard County Republican Party chairman.