Those Americans outraged by Russian intervention on behalf of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton have a short historical memory. Their country has a long track record of interference in the elections of foreign nations, despite being a self-proclaimed defender of the right to self-determination of all people.
According to a recent study by Dov H. Levin, between 1946 and 2000, Washington attempted to influence the results of 81 electoral contests around the world. Overall, the outcome of these meddling efforts was mixed. However, according to Levin’s data, in nearly 60 percent of the cases, the political forces supported by the U.S. won.
These interferences were not limited to during the Cold War, in the name of the struggle against communism. They also continued in subsequent years to bring to power governments willing to cooperate with Washington.
The favored victim of these initiatives was Latin America, which the U.S. has almost always considered part of its sphere of influence.
In 1946, Washington tried to prevent the election of Juan Domingo Perón to Argentina’s presidency. Two weeks before the election, a collection of documents nicknamed the Blue Book was distributed, with the objective of discrediting the candidate unwanted by the Truman administration. The aversion against Perón was due to his close relations with Nazi Germany during the Second World War that had just ended.
In Chile, even before promoting the coup of General Augusto Pinochet in 1973, the CIA had sent at least $3 million to the campaign of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei to help him defeat the socialist Salvador Allende in 1964. And in 1970, the U.S. had tried to induce the Chilean legislature to overturn the outcome of the popular vote and proclaim the conservative Jorge Alessandri as president, instead of Allende.
Again in 1990, in a sort of WikiLeaks forerunner, the administration of George H.W. Bush leaked some compromising material on alleged corruption of the Sandinista junta of the Marxist Manuel Ortega to German newspapers, thus promoting the defeat of the latter by Violeta Chamorro in that year’s presidential election.
After the Cold War, post-Soviet Russia also became a field of action for U.S. incursions in electoral affairs.
For example, right before the confirmation of Boris Yeltsin to the presidency of the Russian Federation in 1996, Russia got a loan of more than $10 billion, granted by the International Monetary Fund upon pressure by the Clinton administration. This loan allowed the tenant of the Kremlin not only to strengthen his internal prestige, but also to fulfill at the last minute his campaign promise to pay overdue wages and pensions.
Even Italy has been repeatedly hit by electoral interference efforts by the United States. The most significant occurred in 1948, when the nation’s choice between East and West was at stake.
To prevent the victory of the Popular Democratic Front, the alliance between the PCI and the PSI, which would have constituted the premise of Italy’s accession to the nascent Soviet bloc, Washington intervened massively in the election campaign.
The United States allocated $227 million in economic aid to Italy in the first quarter of 1948 and politically exploited Marshall Plan funding to guide the electorate toward the pro-American parties.
Moreover, incited by the De Gasperi government that had a vested interest in dramatizing the risk of a communist victory at the polls, the CIA sent several million dollars to finance the election campaign of the Christian Democrats and its allies. On this occasion, the Italian community in America supported the U.S. government.
Italian immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. peppered friends and family living in Italy with more than 1 million letters, asking them not to vote for the candidates of the Popular Democratic Front. These letters praised the alleged wonders of the American socio-economic model, and were accompanied by far more persuasive gifts of cash and goods.
Five years later, in 1953, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce, threatened to end all American economic aid and to freeze cooperation agreements between the two countries in the event the Communist Party would win a particularly dicey election. These elections were regulated by the so-called “fraudulent law,” which assigned 65 percent of the seats in the House to the party or group of related political forces that had gotten half of the valid votes.
In 1976, as acknowledged by the former CIA chief William Colby, the possibility that the PCI would achieve a relative majority in Parliament led the Ford administration to pour $6 million into the coffers of the Christian Democrats. Once again, a letter-writing campaign was conducted from the United States to divert votes from the Communist Party.
This time, it was promoted by organizations like Americans for a Democratic Italy, an association backed by the Italian-American banker Michele Sindona and other people possibly linked to the subversive Masonic Lodge P2.
The joint report by U.S. intelligence agencies that informs of actions by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to influence American elections attests a clear turnaround. Perhaps we are seeing the emergence of what Fareed Zakaria has called since 2008 a “post-American world.”
The United States, which is undergoing a phase of downsizing of its global hegemony, is now suffering these same foreign meddling in its domestic politics that it used to execute in other nations.
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