America’s scandalous history of election meddling

America’s scandalous history of election meddling

By Ellen Ratner   
Published

WASHINGTON— Although last week was dominated by accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior, the week began with discussion of the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.

Did the Russians try? I am sure they did, as they would have been foolish not to try. Despite President Trump saying President Vladimir Putin assured him that the Russians did not interfere with our elections, there is most likely no doubt that they did.

However, the United States’ hands are not exactly clean. The CIA has been interfering with other countries’ elections for years. A professor named Dov Levin at Carnegie-Mellon University has a database of United States interference with democratic elections. His database begins in 1946 and ends in 2000. The database counts the actual interference with elections and does not count the famous coups d’etat in Iran or a year later in Guatemala.

The Los Angeles Times interviewed Dov Levin and found that he defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides. … These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.”

Levin’s description sounds like what the United States is accusing the Russians of years ago, the goal was to prevent the spread of communism. Through United States intervention, the goal was successful. For instance, in 1990, in Czechoslovakia that same year, the United States gave “election training” to supporters of Vaclav Havel. This was after communism was ended in that country. The United States wanted to make sure there was no return to it.

According to several news reports, the CIA interference in elections has been successful about 59 percent of the time. According to the website HumansAreFree.com, the CIA does most of its election influencing in secret. It states: “These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.”

I was told by a member of Congress that Iraq received “planeloads of money” from the United States. The election on 2005 was dubbed the first free election. Other than paying bribes (which is illegal in the U.S. but which China does regularly), the money was there to influence the 2005 election. Why else would we have sent planeloads of money?

The United States also tried to influence the Russian election of Boris Yeltsin. The Los Angeles Times, in a September 2016 article, reported: “The U.S. also attempted to sway Russian elections. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy flailing, President Clinton endorsed a $10.2-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support, telling voters that only he had the reformist credentials to secure such loans.”

Sometimes a free election is held, but the United States does not like the outcome. I am aware of two incidences in our hemisphere where the United States interfered after a democratic election.

My brother was a friend of Haiti former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. After the “Baby Doc” (dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier) ouster, the CIA wanted to make sure that there would be no return to dictatorship or communism, and so it decided to undermine the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

I also worked with a woman whose father was a well-known CIA operative. He was responsible for the undermining of Chile’s freely elected president, Salvador Allende, in 1973. Although the election had been close, the CIA didn’t like Allende and tried to make sure he didn’t have power, so it engineered a coup. I actually spoke to this CIA person, and he felt terrible that he had been involved.

Before we get on our high horses about the Russians interfering in our elections, we should take a look at our own house. We need to be on the up and up about this and say Russia was only doing what we have done countless times.

The Russians were most likely not successful in changing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, but they tried. They must have learned those lessons from us.

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