Daily prompt: Blowing myself out of the WordPress water. Again


I am an alien here and I know already that commenting on US affairs does me no good. But on the other hand, does it do Americans any good if the only voices they hear are those of other Americans? So because I feel strongly about this, I will have the courage of my convictions and ask the question that has been simmering away in my mind for months.

American interference in the political affairs of other nations is so commonplace it’s barely news in the world beyond the US.

In Latin America, it is so well documented that at the Summit of the Americas in 2015, President Obama felt it necessary to say that ‘the days of meddling’ were over – which you have to admit is an admission that meddling had indeed occurred.

Dov Levin (Institute for Politics and Strategy, Carnegie-Mellon University) has calculated that between 1946 and 2000, the US attempted to influence the elections of other countries at least 81 times, including the 1996 Russian election where concerted American activity in collusion with Boris Yeltsin elevated Yeltsin from the bottom of the polls to winner.

Furthermore, these figures do not include America’s support of military coups or attempts to overthrow regimes the US didn’t like.

In the same period, Russia indulged in similar tactics 36 times.

There is nothing new about any of this. Both countries have been playing these games for decades. In Dr Levin’s highly expert and thoroughly researched opinion, Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election would rate as ‘average’ on the scale of manipulation used to procure the desired outcome.

Don’t run away with the idea that I condone any of this, or think all’s fair in love and politics.

It is a gross insult to the intelligence, cultural sanctity and right to self-determination of any nation to have outsiders manipulating its domestic affairs.

It is a nasty shock to any nation to find their leader is a cheat.

But in view of its own history, how does America justify its outrage at Russian interference in an American election?

How is American interference in other people’s politics OK, but other people’s interference in American politics not OK?


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15 Responses to Daily prompt: Blowing myself out of the WordPress water. Again

  1. You have a point, but I don’t think it’ll sell well around here. And more to the point, it is highly unlikely to make anyone feel different or better and no one is likely to say “Well, then, I guess it’s OK for the Russians to screw with our elections being as we’ve done the same thing in smaller, weaker countries where we could get away with it.” It kind of a zero sum point of view. I have no problem with anyone, anywhere having an opinion about our politics. Considering our shit is spread all over the globe, that would be pretty hypocritical. But be aware that every country is hiding a pile of its own shit too. There are no clean hands in anyone’s politics. Not in your country, ours, or anyone’s.

    • First up, thank you for commenting.
      Yes, I know it’s a zero sum point of view and I certainly don’t expect America to accept Russian interference – particularly when it put a madman in the top office. What I find beyond irritating is the outrage – ‘How DARE anyone do this to US’ – when America’s been doing the same thing for years (and not just in weaker countries, see Yeltsin above). Do Americans not know what their own country gets up to, or do they think this sort of meddling is only unconscionable when it’s done to America, not by America?
      As for the shit in other countries – absolutely. It’s just unfortunate for America that American shit affects us all.

  2. I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s OK for the US to interfere in the elections of another country. Marilyn is right. There are no clean hands in anyone’s politics and, for that matter I strongly suspect (but don’t have any proof) that businesses meddle in elections for their own gain too — at the very least in the form of lobbying candidates and governments. For that matter, people meddle in the politics of their OWN country for personal gain (obvious from what’s happening in the US right now. It would be nice if people were not greedy, not mercenary, not ruthless bullies but instead were universally ethical with high moral centers, but they’re not. Just because a government does something, doesn’t mean that the people in the country condone it.

    • Politics is a dirty business everywhere, be it democracy, communism, dictatorship or whatever. It is a perfect example of power corrupting, and I regard all politicians with deep suspicion.
      The difference between American dirt and Australian dirt is that America is the world’s most powerful and influential nation with almost unlimited scope to shape the world to suit itself, and the wealth to do it. So when America stumbles, the rest of us are likely to fall flat on our faces.
      I don’t think for a minute that the American people necessarily condone what their government does.What bothers me increasingly is the feeling that they don’t KNOW what their government does. You have pointed out to me before that there’s an ethos regarding wealth – that it’s god-given – and I wonder if the same ethos applies to power.
      Australian politics is as dirty as any other but less influential: we are a global nobody, we don’t have the same sort of wealth, and perhaps above all, Australians are not known for their reverential attitude to wealth, status or power. We are far more likely than Americans to tell our politicians to get stuffed.
      So to me, there’s a sort of naive righteousness about the current outrage that doesn’t sit well. I apologise for that. But America rules the world.

      • I do not think America rules the world and if it does it’s not by the consent of the governed. Most foreigners see it as you do with a tinge of anger, resentment and fear. It’s really impossible even for someone who has always lived here to see the totality. It’s too big, too complex and too full of stupid people who never venture beyond their little world. It’s less homogenous than Australia and far less than China. It’s a maelstrom. 🙁

  3. Embeecee says:

    Frick!! I had this long, incredibly worded reply all ready and the %$@# browser shut down and I lost it all. I’m going to cut to the chase. You asked two questions:

    But in view of its own history, how does America justify its outrage at Russian interference in an American election? Because some of us actually got hold of some real information for once, and yes it outraged us. The reverse outrages ME…I think a country should mind it’s own damned business. But I’m one out of 323.1 million in America. Do you think they listen to ME? Not bloody likely.

    How is American interference in other people’s politics OK, but other people’s interference in American politics not OK? It is NOT OKAY. As in the previous answer, I think, personally, a country ought to mind it’s own damned business and stay out of others’ affairs.

    I’ve had a lot of flack for my point of view, because a lot of folks over here (USA side) have the idea that the USA has the role and responsibility of being “police of the world” and throw about cutesy thoughts like “All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing” if one opposes the police of the world idea.

    America (IMHO) is in the worst mess in it’s history, financially, politically and in myriad other ways and we really need to tend to our own problems BEFORE we start messing around or continue to mess in the world wide scene. IF we ever do again, once stopped.

    As Martha said “Just because a government does something, doesn’t mean the people in that country condone it.” Hell. In America (IMHO again), we’re not informed until AFTER the fact anyway, and even then sometimes we’re never told, it’s simply “for the greater good”. And Americans (many of us) don’t like it at all. But as is evident, what good is it to nay say the power brokers? We (common people) have no voice in our government, it’s been that way for decades now, and look at the freakin’ mess America is in.

    I’m on the side of staying within our borders and dealing with our own problems and leaving the world to help itself for a change. We need fixing too.

    • NOBODY has the right to police the world (imo!) and I take grave exception to the justification (All it takes for evil to thrive…etc) which presupposes that America Knows Best in all situations regarding all nationalities: that America is ‘good’ and anyone who doesn’t think The American Way is ‘evil’. This is so narrow-minded, intolerant and supremely arrogant…And on a par with Senator John McCain’s speech in the Senate, in the course of which he said ‘We are a blessing to humanity’. (I have to take a pause here while I calm down.)
      But having proudly assumed the leadership of the world, America can’t just back out and say ‘not our business’, which would effectively pull the rug out from under global finance, global trade, global diplomatic agreements and the balance of power.

  4. lwbut says:

    I’m with you H – it is total hypocrisy to decry the interference in your own elections by foreign powers while keeping shtumm on your involvement (much more and frequent btw) in that of other countries. But as we all know – the world is full of human hypocrites who think : “do as i say, not as i do”.

    I’m getting heartily sick of people in this world – thoughtless, self-centred, arrogant, cruel, self-righteous and pompously offended because people are not respecting their ‘rights’.

    There are now simply too many people on the planet and are having to form newer small goupings in a larger overall society that causes ever increasing conflict and uncertainty as they change the basic structures of our once much more uniform and consistent society/cultures.

    I’d also point out that SOMEBODY HAS to act as the world police (the UN certainly never will do the job effectively) because if America doesn’t then China or Russia will and frankly i don’t really think the world would be in a better place ( or our country would at least) if that ever happened. The UK sort of did for a while ( with the odd battle for supremacy between Spain and France and Germany) but that all ended after two world wars.

    • It depends what you mean by ‘world police.’ As I pointed out above, America has enjoyed all the privileges of world leadership, and in my book book, privilege entails responsibility: ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.’ So it can’t just take its bat and ball and go home when it feels like it.
      But ‘leadership’ isn’t policing, and interfering in the affairs of other nations to further your own interests is not leadership. You only have to look at Iraq to see the disastrous implications of that sort of self-interested meddling.
      The greed and self-righteousness in the world makes me glad I’m old and will be gone sooner rather than later. My grandchildren will cope with it better than I can because they are growing up with it, and to them, it will be ‘normal’.

      • lwbut says:

        Sadly, ‘stronger’ people (nations, governments,organisations) have been interfering in the affairs of weaker ones for reasons you mention of greed and self-interest, since time immemorial – it IS ‘normal’ and always was and likely will be. We just have slightly more awareness and ability to tell others about it now. Whether they listen, or actually try to do anything about it, is entirely up to them.

        The self-interest of Scott Morrisson, John Alexander, Steven Parry, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton, Julie Bishop and, well, all our so-called politicians, simply appalls me as does the sheer front they have to think people won’t notice it when they do it on TV.

  5. Embeecee says:

    I’m an American, and proud of it. Do I support, wholesale, all that garbage my ‘leaders’ spout and the policies they throw about like confetti? An absolute NO. And it’s ironic that on the one hand America is derided for their hypocrisy and on the other are put on some sort of pedestal that America will always step in and provide whatever is needed to help another country. Who is deciding what constitutes ‘help’ and what sort of support is provided is something I’m not privy to. And as the gentleman pointed out, if America really did shut her doors and say “Okay, I’m taking my toys and going home and not helping” the world-wide ramifications would be massive. Innocents would be harmed. I’m not saying that in an autocratic “America knows best” sort of way, it is a fact. The global situation is so tangled and we’re all tied up in it one way or another. My own solution is to be as tolerant as I can personally of others, regardless of their culture, religion, sexual orientation, or country of origin. Hatred doesn’t get us anywhere.

    • lwbut says:

      There does not appear to be a ‘like’ button for comments… but if there was i’da hit it!

      LOVE IS the key… but i’m having a heck of a hard time with loving everyone and everything just at this point in time.

      You are right – hypocrisy abounds everywhere and none of us should be throwing any stones with all this glass around.

    • lwbut says:

      That’s not to say that we should not be pointing out injustice and evil for what it is when we see it however. Just that when we do we need to be aware of our own shortcomings (and i have my share) 😉

    • I think we’re now talking at cross purposes – see my reply to lwb above – so I’ll pop back into my burrow!

  6. Pingback: Dumb Founded | sparksfromacombustiblemind

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