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Foreign Interference in Elections: Is It Real or Just Political Noise?
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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces the House of Representatives managers for the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2020. At right is Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA). REUTERS/Leah Millis - RC2FGE9O43XK

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A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find out if there had been any attempt made by the Kremlin to manipulate the voting.

The Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is reportedly perplexed by the lack of official interest in what might have been a foreign intelligence operation that had major impact, all too plausible given that it is assumed that Moscow would have welcomed Brexit as a first step that will eventually put an end to European political and economic unity.

So, no one knows if Russia or anyone else interfered in Britain, which is perhaps just as well as inquiries into voting in the U.S. also in 2016 have likewise created nothing but confusion and no smoking pistol. And, of course there is a question of definitions of interference. Millions of pounds were spent on advertising by those pro- and con-Brexit, just as billions were spent in political adverts in the United States. Much of the “information” provided in that fashion was deliberately misleading, often fearmongering, both in the U.K. and the U.S., suggesting that the problem is much bigger than one country’s possible attempt to influence the vote, if that even took place.

There were similar claims about Russian generated fake news and “a massive hacking attack” in the French presidential election in 2017, while Germany’s Federal Election was notable for a lack of any identifiable Kremlin interference in spite of warnings from some observers that Berlin would be targeted.

So, while claims of Russian interference in elections are fairly common, they are difficult to prove in any serious way. And one should recognize that the “victimized” governments and political parties have strong motives to conjure up a foreign enemy to explain to the public why things are going wrong, be it for coronavirus fumbling or for general political ineptitude. To be sure, as the allure of blaming Russia has faded China is increasingly being targeted by American politicians as a scapegoat, indicating that there must always be a foreigner available to blame for one’s problems.

The most recent nugget to come out of the U.S. Congress on foreign interference in elections originates with Adam Schiff, the sly head of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC, Schiff revealed that U.S. intelligence has obtained information suggesting multiple nations could be trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. elections, to include feeding or “laundering” possible disinformation through Congress.

Schiff explained how various nations us different tactics to get “fake news” messages through to the American voters. Some governments openly support a particular candidate or policy, while others like the Chinese provide misinformation during their trade negotiations with Washington. He observed that “The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs.”

A letter signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va has asked for a counterintelligence briefing for Congress regarding foreign efforts to interfere in the upcoming election. It includes “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democratic Party presidential candidate presumptive Joe Biden also has confirmed that he has received briefings about Russian alleged plans to interfere in November saying “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Of course, there are a number of things to say about the claims that other nations are possibly planning to meddle in the voting. First, the list of possible players being presented by Schiff and others is all too convenient, kind of like a Congressional dream list of bad boys. Russia pops up because of longstanding claims about it, but China is a new entry in the game because it all ties up into a neat package, including the “Wuhan virus” and its challenges both to American economic supremacy and to U.S. naval power in the South China Sea. And of course, there are Iran and also North Korea.

One should ask what exactly China, Iran and North Korea stand to gain by attempting to “interfere” in the election? What message could they possibly be sending and what would be the mechanisms they would use to get their points of view across to a skeptical American public? In a campaign that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising and other “messaging,” what exactly is the possible place of Iran and North Korea?

There is also a lack of “realism” in the Schiff comments. By far the country that interferes the most in U.S. politics is Israel. Israel and its domestic Lobby initiate legislation relating to the Middle East and Israeli diplomats, lobbyists and soldiers all have free access both to Capitol Hill and to the Pentagon. If a Congressman dares to speak up against the Jewish state’s crimes he or she is smeared in the media and eventually forced out of office by a well-funded pro-Israel opponent. No other country gets away with all that. As it is highly likely that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be pulling out all the stops to reelect Donald Trump in November, why isn’t the Jewish state included on Schiff’s list?

And then there is the tantalizing bit about concerns over disinformation being “laundered” through Congress. It is difficult to imagine what exactly Schiff is referring to as the corrupt gasbags in Congress already constitute one of the world’s biggest sources of false information, second only to the fully coopted U.S. mainstream media.

In any event, if some countries that are accustomed to being regularly targeted by the United States are taking advantage of an opportunity to somehow diminish America’s ability to meddle globally, no one should be surprised, but it is a politically driven fantasy to make the hysterical claim that the United States has now become the victim of some kind of vast multi-national conspiracy to interfere in its upcoming election.

Philip Giraldi, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Of course foreign countries interfere in elections. Come election time, it is normal for the political heads of government of “friendly” countries to praise the one seeking re-election. It won’t happen with Trump, except perhaps with his buddy BoJo the Clown, because he has disrupted the game. Didn’t happen with Milosevic either, because he refused to play the game.

  2. Wyatt says:

    Well considering the United States of America has interfered in multiple foreign elections in the past to the extent that Time magazine bragged about American interference in the reelection of Yeltsin, the answer to the question is most definitely yes.

    Democracy is gay.

    • Agree: Based Lad
  3. Bolo says:

    It’s not like Obama wasn’t telling the world he wanted the Brits to vote for staying in the Union, like every chance he got the last few months before the polling….

  4. d dan says:

    In America history, she has involved in regime change that entailed both overt and covert actions aimed at altering, replacing, or preserving foreign governments, in over 100 places, with countries like Samoa, Cuba, Philippines, China, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Italy, Indonesia, Iran,… etc.

    Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change#1943%E2%80%9346:_Italy

    And this is not even counting the direct military invasions and the forever wars.

    Given these facts, and due to additional reasons that many of US policies have global consequences, and many US resources like US dollar and military are treated as common goods (as least by the deep states), people should not be surprised that foreign interference of US elections is actually a “feature”, not a “bug”. Furthermore, US voters have repeatedly shown their stupidity for electing and re-electing the same types of clowns, liars and traitors as Presidents, governors and congress persons, may be US should amend her Constitution to legitimize and welcome foreign interference? This may even improve the quality of future government, right?

  5. Funny, one country that undoubtedly meddles in US politics that never gets mentioned: Mexico. They have more consulates here than any other country. You really think those diplomatic outposts are there just to provide humdrum, mundane consular services to their nationals?

    • Replies: @Barr
  6. jsinton says:

    The Muellergate disaster would have us believe that a handful of ambiguous ads from the Russian clickbait operation on Facebook brainwashed Americans into electing Donald Trump. After the said clickbait operation showed up in court to contest the charges, it was quickly covered up and flushed down the memory hole. What the Russians DID do was to cover the Podesta email leaks in detail, which truly did harm to the Clinton campaign by exposing the DNC and the campaign for the corrupt hacks they were. The matter was glossed over in America MSM, but RT ran the series of email revelations for weeks, the authenticity which was never successfully denied. I admit I was floored by the findings, and knew I could never vote for the Dems. But like everything increasingly in the American MSM, these things are given the Orwellian treatment, so you can never believe much of anything from anyone in this country, except maybe Unz. So take everything with a bolder of salt when they tell us “foreigners influenced the election”. My guess is the NWO has certainly already corrupted the election in favor of the Dems.

  7. If it was true, wouldn’t it just be turnabout, ergo fair play? I haven’t seen any Russian mags openly trumpeting their efforts to follow the US’s lead..

    • Agree: Biff
  8. Reger says:

    I read somewhere about Russia interference in the last American election in Wisconsin. A couple of thousand dollars had been spent on ads or whatever. I was scandalised – not by the foreign interference, but by the fact that the Russians had more gumption than the Democratic Party to spend money in that state. The Russians knew something about voters that the Democratic Party did not? Yes, that is scandalous.

    • Replies: @Anon
  9. A123 says:

    The better question, “Is foreign government involvement material?”

    When it comes to open bribery, such as Burisma/Ukraine funneling cash to the Obama/Biden/Clinton regime via payments to Hunter… That is certainly substantial enough to be illegal.

    The Chinese government has also made illegal bribes contributions to enrich Quid Pro Joe Biden.(1)

    Since 2017 alone, when the Biden Center opened and after Joe Biden announced he was running for President in April 2018, the university received over $70 million from China, of which $22 million were listed as “Anonymous.”

    The complaint notes that the Biden Center co-sponsored the 2020 Penn China Research Symposiumon January 31, 2020,that included opening remarks by Ambassador Huang Ping, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, amid the coverup by China of the pandemic of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

    “It is apparent that the Biden Center is beholden to China for its operations,” said Peter Flaherty, Chair of NLPC. “This has an insidious affect on shaping the programs it produces.” “These multi-million dollar donations from China are bad enough,” said Paul Kamenar, counsel for NLPC, “but the flagrant reporting violations over the years are simply outrageous.”

    This direct connection between cash and Biden’s actions on behalf of China is highly corrupt.
    ____

    Other nations use US branches of their international corporations to contribute to Issue Based PAC’s with public reporting of their spending. This means that they are as effective as any other PAC or rich donor. This is likely technically illegal as a “U.S. Branch” is not a “U.S. Corporation”. However, the cost of the prosecution would exceed the fines.

    As one voice amid the furor of many, the impact of these nation driven PAC’s is limited.

    PEACE 😇
    _______

    (1) https://nlpc.org/2020/05/21/complaint-filed-against-university-of-pennsylvania-and-biden-center-for-undisclosed-china-mega-donations/

  10. If Israel is trying to re-elect Trump (which I doubt) I’ll take back my allegation that Israel has never done anything positive for the USA.

  11. Biff says:

    “Presidents change, policy doesn’t”

    Vladimir Putin

  12. Anon[253] • Disclaimer says:

    The floundering around by the Intelligence and Security committee in Britain, whose material is derived from “open source” (read, published in the news papers or reported on television) is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make Britain appear to be a relevant international player rather than a little yapping mongrel dragged along on the American leash.

    • Replies: @Ann Nonny Mouse
  13. Since I became an adult, I just assumed it was common knowledge among other adults that every country meddles as best it can, and get away with, in the politics of every other country. Otherwise, why have “intelligence” agencies at all?

    Constant outrage over this issue seems like an embarrassing implication that our intelligence agencies are failing us — especially when they’re supposedly so competent and trustworthy that their mere word is enough to base collusion and impeachment proceedings upon…

    • Agree: Sean
  14. @Anon

    … desperate attempt to make Britain appear to be a relevant international player …

    Yes, but why this madness? Why should they want to be such a “player”? Playing what? For what? Relevant to what? Who benefits?

  15. anarchyst says:

    The biggest foreign interference in American elections comes from israel. In fact, israel has many of out top politicians (congress) as citizens. There are forty or so dual-citizenship israelis in congress as we speak…

    • Agree: Tommy Thompson
    • Replies: @Tommy Thompson
  16. @anarchyst

    Absolutely, the US political system is under full spectrum dominance by a foreign power. The proof of this, is that no politician or major media talking head or counter intelligence bureau dare say a peep about it. Nobody will even seriously deny the actual political paradigm we live in or name the culprit with the controlling power. That would be crossing the line.

    It has to be clear to all by now in the 21st century that big capital decides political power and who has accumulated and carefully projects this capital power into other forms of power? Governments of republic democracy have proved only to be a nice ploy to distract the masses, and has nothing in common with their professed origin ancient Greek city state assembly democracy;

    We have a sort of democracy of capital at work, the more you have and can parlay, the more political power and governing representation one obtains. There is always a threat from below, therefore the state must be prepared to crush any threats, by the hungry, angry, dispossessed or left behind masses. There is no need to point out who has so much control over the US, W. Euro, Ex- Commie, Islamic, Africa, Asian, etc. etc. governing elites and their pseudo-states of organized crime.

    Maybe we need to move back to absolute monarchical systems, where the monarch fearing for his position sought to keep peace between all ethnic and religious groups and provide a focus of justice for the average plebe against their local tyrants, princes bourgeois merchant class overlords. Probably it is too late to go back, think maybe we should just continue our frenzied competition with one another at groveling for position, status, comfort and shekels to the absolute power and rulers of our world.

  17. Both my wife (who is from Russia) and myself voted for Brexit. Most of my wife’s Russian friends with English husbands also voted for Brexit (as did their husbands) . Jokingly we tell people, who did not vote for Brexit, that because of this there was “Russian Interference” – this seems to go over their heads !!

  18. Anon[456] • Disclaimer says:
    @Reger

    I read somewhere about Russia interference in the last American election in Wisconsin. A couple of thousand dollars had been spent on ads or whatever. I was scandalised – not by the foreign interference

    tl;dr: Stop repeating the anti-democratic “Russian Interference” concept if democracy is important to you.

    Russian political ads in the United States logically cannot be “interference”, unless we were to redefine the integrity of voter agency as something that is contingent on voter exposure to only information from approved channels.

    Doing so would obliterate the foundation of free speech in this nation, in both the ability to speak it but especially to hear it, as well as that of voter agency.

    Voter agency is what makes one’s vote legitimate. For example, if you are deemed to be mentally ill or otherwise coerced, it can be said that your agency is corrupt and there is a legal case to be made for your vote to be discounted.

    If Russian information constitutes interference, a concept that is only impactful if we are to assume that it can undermine voter agency (and therefore the legitimacy of anyone’s vote), then it will become practical to declare any voter’s agency to be invalid given a claim that they were exposed to unapproved of information.

    The list of information that is unapproved of will expand with time, which is convenient in the age of the world wide web. “Russian interference” is a mere stalking horse.

    Voter agency, in a Free Speech Democracy, implies that you have the ability to process any information from any source, true or false, and make a decision.

    Once that principle is invalidated, which is what the Russian Interference narrative seeks to do, then voting will no longer matter. It will be theater, as anyone not voting based on exposure tightly controlled information sources will be considered to be a corrupt agent. Their vote will be invalidated.

    I dislike false information, but a foreign government attempting to influence an election isn’t in the same evil-ballpark as the contingent attempting to undermine the foundation of democracy through functional control of your information sources.

  19. Barr says:
    @Sgt. Joe Friday

    What does Mexico do ? How does it influence election politics or foreign policy? Can you imagine Israeli labors coming to work in farms warehouses construction and maid services? Can you imagine ATF and FBI and DEA swarming Israel in search of drug peddlers and drug barons ? Can you imagine Israeli gangsters hurting US health and society being extradited to USA? Can you imagine US sending billions to Mexico because it is the only ally ,only democracy surrounded by Honduras El Salavador Nicaragua and Guatemala . It’s villa in a jungle .

    • LOL: mark green
  20. RodW says:

    I remember Putin clearly stating that although he had no wish to interfere, he believed it was in the UK’s interest to remain in the EU since it made trading with them more convenient. He probably also calculated that Brexit would put the UK at the mercy of the US, which would be good for neither Russia nor the UK.

    So what would Putin stand to gain by encouraging Britons to vote for Brexit against Russia’s own interests? The question doesn’t seem to arise in public discourse, despite its obviousness.

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