The Sunday Magazine

America's hypocritical outrage over Russia's cyber-interference in its presidential election - Michael's essay

Here's an excerpt: "The involvement by the United States in dictating and directing the political life of other countries has a long and sordid history going back to the middle of the 19th Century."
The US on December 29, 2016, fired back at Moscow over its meddling in the presidential election, announcing a series of tough sanctions against intelligence agencies, expulsions of agents and shutting down of Russian compounds on US soil. "I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government's aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election," Obama said. (SAUL LOEB, NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

There is something hugely ironic, risible even, in Barack Obama's year-end fulminations about Russian hacking endeavours.

He accused Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin's intelligence agencies of interfering in the democratic practices and governance of the United States.

Ironic because no country has worked harder for decades to undermine the governance of other nations than the United States itself.

What got the president all steamed up was a series of reports from US intelligence agencies which said the Russians had hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and used some embarrassing e-mails to swing the election to Donald Trump.

However accurate or not the allegation, Trump didn't need any help from the Russians. The DNC was busily losing the election all on its own.

In the dying days of the year, the president enacted a series of sanctions against the Kremlin. This included the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence people and the closure of two Russian-owned properties. 

With a straight face, the president said; "The United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia's efforts to undermine established international norms of behaviour and interfere with democratic governance."

What makes this hilarious and more than somewhat hypocritical calls up a scattered reading of history.

Henry Kissinger on May 13, 2015 in New York City. (Steve Mack/Getty Images)

The involvement by the United States in dictating and directing the political life of other countries has a long and sordid history going back to the middle of the 19th Century. Whether overtly or secretly, the US has undermined democratically elected governments all over the world, especially in Latin America. It has engineered the overthrow of dozens of governments, and has propped up in their place dictators and fascist regimes.

Henry Kissinger, when he was Secretary of Global Interference under Richard Nixon, was a master at undermining  democratically elected regimes, most notoriously in Chile in 1973.

Some interference such as the war with Mexico in 1846 and the Philippines in 1899 were simple land grabs.

In the post war years, when the fear of Communism became an American obsession, the US colluded in toppling governments it felt  were overly friendly to Moscow.

In 1953, the CIA  sponsored the overthrow if the elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh and replaced him with that well-known democrat, Shah Reza Pahlavi.

Henry Kissinger shakes hand with Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, 02 November 1974 in Tehran, Iran. (AFP/Getty Images)

The following year, the CIA was at it again, engineering the coup which overthrew the democratically-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.

In 1958, in Operation Blue Bat, President Dwight Eisenhower threatened to invade Lebanon if internal opposition jeopardized its  pro-western government.

Add to the list the overthrow of the socialist government in Ghana in 1966, the invasion of Grenada in 1983, the Dominican Republic in 1965, the toppling of the Aristide government  of Haiti  in 1991, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and  dozens of others.

Each of these incursions, military or political, could be argued as violations of  international law under the Charter of the United Nations.

It is not too much of a leap of reason to speculate that with the largest intelligence gathering organizations in the world, the United States has committed a few cybercrimes of its own.

My favourite definition of a hypocrite is someone who conveniently forgets their faults to point out someone else's.

If the shoe fits…

Click the button above to hear Michael's essay. 


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