The US was found to have interfered in foreign elections at least 81 times between 1946 and 2000 – not counting US-backed military coups or regime change efforts.
Ever since Donald Trump managed to win the US Presidential Election last month, the US establishment – which largely backed Hillary Clinton – has pounced on any and all opportunities to accuse a foreign power, namely Russia, of having “interfered” in the US election. Though such accusations have been proven to be based solely on speculation and not hard evidence, that hasn’t stopped the US political elite for crying foul for an act, they say undermines democracy in the worst way possible. Yet, absent from all of this post-election hysteria is any mention of the US’ own well-documented practice of interfering with the elections of numerous foreign nations under the pretext of protecting or furthering US “interests” abroad.
Dov Levin, a political scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, amassed a database of US election interference abroad, which shows just how common that practice has been throughout recent US history. According to Levin’s work, the US interfered in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. The definition of intervention used in the study was “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” However, other types of intervention in elections, such as US “assistance” in the electoral process via election monitoring etc, was not included. The incidents of intervention cited in the database were largely carried out in secret as only one-third of intervention efforts were carried out publicly. Methods included the dissemination of misinformation or propaganda, training one side in campaigning techniques, making threats against a particular candidate, threatening to withdraw foreign aid, and bankrolling a particular candidate among others. In 59% of the cases examined, the candidate that had received US “assistance” emerged victorious, though Levin estimated that the average effect of “partisan electoral interventions” only swayed the vote by an average of 3%.
However, these incidents do not include those that have taken place over the past 16 years. Under Bush, election intervention was a common policy practiced jointly through regime change, as evidenced by Bush’s covert intervention in the Iraqi elections of 2005. In a 2006 interview, Hillary Clinton argued that allowing Palestine to hold elections was a mistake. “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake,” said Clinton. “And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.” The same such interference continued later under Obama, such as in the 2015 elections in Haiti.
It is also worth noting that the report does not include the numerous military coups and regime change efforts the US has led in the same time period. Notable military coups of the past century include those which took place in Guatemala, Iran, and Chile – all of which were bankrolled and executed with US military assistance. Regime change efforts continue to today, particularly in Syria, as US imperialism seeks continue to dominate all other nations in the name of “protecting democracy.” Though President-Elect Trump has pledged to not continue this long-standing practice, it remains to be seen if he will be able to resist the “deep state” or if he will be forced to serve its interests like the Presidents before him.