Below, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Will Bunch reflected on and linked to a story he did a little more than one year ago. Above, Trump openly played the foreign interference game in an interview with a disreputable British publication, The Sun. Two clippings off of Twitter, set in a montage by Eric Jackson.
Foreign meddling can’t be allowed in US elections, but that must be a two-way street
A few days before flying off to a state visit to his ancestral island — Donald Trump’s mother was born a British subject, from the Scottish part of the United Kingdom — Donald Trump boasted that the Russians had helped him get elected. Given all the surrounding circumstances it was a pretty damning admission, which he clumsily tried to walk back.
Heading out across the pond, he insulted the mayor of London and got into a crude exchange about a prince’s American-born wife. Then, with the UK in political crisis, he gave his endorsement in an upcoming race to be the next Prime Minister.
There is a systemic problem, which is not just the Russians and not just the Republicans.
Joe Biden said some years ago that it was a mistake to allow the Palestinians to hold parliamentary elections in 2006. He never accepted the result, instead opining that “I would also support alternatives to Hamas. I would urge Palestinian leaders to reform Fatah….” ((Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2007.) The aftermath of that election, in which the heavy hand of Israeli manipulation aimed at undermining Fatah was ever-present, has been unfortunate. Hamas won and was not allowed to assume its mandate. Instead Fatah is allowed bantustan-style nominal authority on the West Bank while Hamas is besieged in Gaza. Palestine has not meaningfully gone to the polls since the 2006 vote. So it might be said that Biden had a point — except, what business is it of the United States when or for whom Palestinians vote?
We can go around the world, under Republican and Democratic administrations, and find plenty of examples of US meddling in other countries’ elections over the years.
Russia clearly did interfere in the 2016 US election, to what effect it’s hard to judge. But let us also recall that the Obama administration, via then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, condemned the 2011 Russian Duma elections. It was not an unfair statement for an international human rights group or an independent news organization to make, but improper meddling when one government made it about its counterpart in another country. By treaty and customary international law, nations’ rights to self-determination preclude such comments.
What goes around comes around. It may not just be via a candidate’s campaign, a political party or a public official. Foundations and industry associations are also used as conduits of foreign political access and influence. A lot of perfectly legal things that go on look just awful. US laws about this really should be tightened. Even the appearance of foreign influence ought to be suppressed, whatever the other country, whatever party is the intended beneficiary.
But it all flies over the incredibly self-centered Donald Trump’s head. That’s a problem for the republic.
Bear in mind…
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