Thursday, 15 December 2016

Foreign Influence in U.S. Elections Goes Back to the Founding

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Foreign influence in American elections and political struggles is nothing new, and the effort of the Democratic Party, helped by their allies in the mainstream media, to promote the narrative that Russia influenced the victory of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, certainly would fit well into our nation’s history. If it were true.

Specifically, the charge is that Russia was somehow behind the leak of DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks. In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has even produced an “assessment” that the Russians were disruptive, leaking damaging information about Clinton, in order to promote the candidacy of Trump. But considering that National Intelligence Director James Clapper is conducting the investigation into the alleged Russian “hack,” it will be difficult to trust any statement he makes on the subject.

It was Clapper who told a congressional hearing in 2013 that the National Security Agency (NSA) did not collect data on millions of Americans. Soon after that sworn statement, whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated that there was, in fact, massive data collection by the NSA. And now are we supposed to have confidence that Clapper will tell us the truth on whether the Russians were the culprits in leaking to WikiLeaks information damaging to Clinton and the Democrats.

In fact, Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, told the British publication The Guardian that he has met with the person responsible for the leaks, “and they certainly are not Russian.” Instead, Murray insisted, it was “an insider” who gave the information, and it was not a “hack” but rather a “leak.”

Murray, an associate of WikiLeaks head Julian Assange, told The Guardian,

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks — there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not received massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

If the Russians did actually attempt to influence the most recent U.S. presidential election, it would not be the first time that foreign nations have had an impact on domestic American politics.

The assistance of the French government under King Louis XVI was critical in helping the struggling United States successfully secede from the British Empire, which was accomplished by the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Because of this, only about a decade later the French government demanded that America reciprocate and aid them in their war with the British. The problem was that the government in France was no longer led by a Bourbon monarch, but was in the throes of the violent French Revolution.

President George Washington wisely preferred to remain neutral in the conflict between France and Great Britain; however, Francophiles such as Thomas Jefferson, who had served as America’s first secretary of state, contended that the United States had a moral obligation to assist the French. Disgusted with Washington’s insistence on neutrality, Jefferson even declared that Washington had gotten into bed with “the harlot England.” These words caused a rift between the two Founding Fathers that never really healed. Interestingly, when Jefferson became president himself and was confronted with the real possibility that France might use the Louisiana Territory as a base of operations against the American republic, he remarked that the United States might need to “marry the British fleet and nation.”

The revolutionary French government was not content with mere diplomatic efforts to enlist American aid. When Washington persisted in maintaining American neutrality, France’s Ambassador Edmund Genet traveled to America and attempted to whip up a rebellion against Washington. The French Revolution had been engineered by radical clubs such as the Illuminati and the Jacobins, and similar efforts to overthrow the U.S. government were made by the French through infiltration and support of the so-called Democratic Societies, found in several different American states.

As Arthur Thompson, CEO of The John Birch Society (parent organization for The New American) explains in his new book To the Victor Go the Myths and the Monuments, “Genet founded the Philadelphia Society, the ‘mother lodge’ of the Democratic Societies fronting the Jacobins.” On August 26, 1794, Washington wrote Henry Lee, Virginia's governor and a former general, referring to these clubs as “the most diabolical attempt to destroy the best fabric of human government and happiness, that has ever been presented for the acceptance of mankind.”

The British had an impact on the 1888 U.S. presidential election, although certainly not the kind they wished. In a political trick, Republican activist George Osgood wrote British ambassador Sir Lionel Sackville-West, claiming to be “Charles Murchison,” who was supposedly a former British citizen. He asked Sir Lionel for advice on how to vote in the presidential election between Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison and Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland. Sir Lionel responded with a rather general answer which seemed to imply the British government would not be unhappy with a Cleveland win.

The Republicans used this response to win over the votes of Irish Catholics — who, of course, were not fond of the British Empire — probably costing Cleveland Indiana and New York, and the election.

The British were much more directly involved in the 1940 campaign. With war raging in Europe, many in the United States favored direct American involvement. Despite the protestations of President Franklin Roosevelt (“I hate war”), it is beyond dispute that FDR was in favor of a direct American role in the battle. Pro-war elites of both parties worried that the 1940 Republican nominee would take the noninterventionist position then favored by the public, and perhaps use that issue to defeat Roosevelt in his run for a third term.

Interventionist Republicans settled on a utilities executive, Wendell Willkie, who was just as much an interventionist as Roosevelt. As reported by Senator Robert A. Taft's biographer James T. Patterson, shortly before the Republican National Convention opened in June, Senator Taft and his wife were invited to a dinner party in New York hosted by Ogden Reid, the publisher of the pro-interventionist New York Herald-Tribune. Other guests included Thomas Lamont, a senior partner of J.P. Morgan Company; Lord Lothian, the British ambassador to the United States; and Willkie. Lord Lothian was invited to make a few brief remarks on the situation in Europe, during which he insisted to the dinner guests that it was the duty of the United States to intervene on the side of the British. Lamont added his support to Lothian’s plea, followed by Willkie, who even urged that America should enter the war immediately.

The message to Taft, who was called on next to speak, was quite clear: If he wanted serious consideration for the nomination, he would have to ingratiate himself with the powerful financial interests that were beating the war drums. Demonstrating the courage of his convictions that marked his political career, Taft directed the guests to his recent remarks in the Senate, in which he said that Americans did not want to go to war to beat a totalitarian system in Europe if they were just going to end up getting socialism in America at the end of the war.

A few days later, just prior to the opening of the convention, the Tribune announced its support for Willkie, as “heaven’s gift to the nation in its time of crisis.”

The British did not stop with efforts at influencing who would be the Republican nominee. In late 1941, President Roosevelt told a radio audience that he held in his hands “a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler’s government — by the planners of the New World Order. It is a map of South America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it. The geographical experts of Berlin, however, have ruthlessly obliterated all the existing boundary lines …. bringing the whole continent under their domination.” FDR added that the map had been “made in Germany by Hitler’s government.”

Actually, the map was the work of some clever British secret agents in New York, led by William Stephenson, better known as the “Man Called Intrepid,” who was working for British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Stephenson’s forgery was designed to bring America into the war to help the British.

In 1991, a reporter for the Times of London discovered a memorandum from 1983 in Soviet archives, which then-Russian leader Boris Yeltsin had opened inside the former Soviet Union to western scholars. The memorandum was from KGB chief Victor Chebrikov to then-Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov. Apparently, Senator Edward Kennedy had dispatched his friend Senator John Tunney to Moscow, in an effort to use the Soviets against the reelection of Ronald Reagan. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memo stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy offered to help the Soviets make a better appearance to the American public in their efforts toward nuclear disarmament, and stated that he would clear the way for Andropov to have some interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country,” he assured them.

Andropov was formerly the director of the KGB when the Soviet Union crushed the 1956 Hungarian uprising and also the similar so-called Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Exactly what Andropov thought of Kennedy’s offer of help is not discernable from the memorandum, as there is no response in the files. Andropov died shortly after the Kennedy initiative.

As the Washington Times wrote of this in 2006, “If Chebrikov’s account of events is accurate, it’s clear Mr. Kennedy was actively engaging the Russians to influence the 1984 election.”

Paul Kengor, who wrote the 2006 book Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, said the memo has been upheld as authentic, and that Senator “Kennedy’s office did not deny it.”

Accusations were made by many Democrats that the Reagan campaign in 1980 encouraged the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages until after the election; however, those accusations were never proven. But considering that the election took place one year to the day after the Iranian “students” took the American Embassy on November 4, 1980, it is clear that the Iranians did in fact influence the outcome of the election. As a way of “sticking it to Jimmy Carter,” the Iranians even held up the hostage release until January 20, 1981, just after Reagan was sworn into office.

Bill Clinton's presidency produced a plethora of scandals, the most famous of which was his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Although it was certainly important (after all, Clinton did lie under oath), one of the more serious scandals of his era involved the role of the Chinese Communists in the 1996 presidential campaign. A Democratic Party fundraiser, Johnny Chung, told federal investigators that thousands of dollars he funneled to the Democratic presidential campaign had actually come from China’s People’s Liberation Army through Liu Chaoying, a Chinese lieutenant colonel and aerospace executive.

President Clinton argued at the time that the money did not influence his decisions. “The decisions we made, we made because we thought they were in the interests of the American people,” he insisted.

At issue was whether the money had anything to do with Clinton’s decision to make it simpler for Red China to launch American satellites and obtain other sensitive technology. After the money was received, the Clinton administration overturned a State Department policy that had classified the satellites as “munitions,” which had made it more difficult to send them to China so they could be used to launch Chinese rockets. Several congressional committees also attempted to discover whether the policy shift helped China and other countries develop and use nuclear missiles.

The Democratic National Committee eventually returned the money to Chung.

These are a few examples of how interaction with foreign countries has had an impact upon American elections and policies. While little evidence exists that the Russian government played any role in determining the outcome of the election between Trump and Clinton, if there had been any role, it certainly would not have been the first time in American history.

 

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