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COMMENTARY

Hypocritical US impeachment proceedings

04:04 AM December 11, 2019

The impeachment proceedings in the US House of Representatives against US President Donald Trump is a highly politicized exercise. The hearings are focused on two issues: 1) interference in local elections; and 2) strings attached to foreign aid.

But the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the worst offender when it comes to intervening in local elections. Such operations consist of three levels: 1) attempt to influence local elections; 2) measures to actually affect the outcome of local elections; and 3) actions to change the outcome of elections.

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As one may note, the US impeachment proceedings deals only with the allegations that the Russians tried to influence the US elections. There is no allegation that the Russian efforts affected the outcome of US elections. Had the US impeachment proceedings not been a political exercise, all they’d have to do is the look at the CIA efforts to influence elections in other countries, and they will see the difficulties involved.

Foreign interference in local elections could create a backlash; the locals may react negatively if they find out that a candidate is backed by a foreign power. In Chile in 1970, the socialist Salvador Allende won the presidency after the deadlocked election was broken by a vote of its Congress. Most Chilenos claimed that Allende’s victory benefited from the backlash when the citizenry found out that the CIA was backing the opposing party. In the Philippines’ 2016 elections, Grace Poe had a double-digit lead in the early polls, but eventually dropped to third place. One plausible explanation: The revelation that her husband was employed in a CIA-funded agency had created a backlash.

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The CIA, however, goes further and tries to change the outcome of elections. In 1973 in Chile, after failing to prevent the election of Allende, the CIA backed the coup that toppled his regime and installed the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. Thus, a democratically elected regime was replaced by a dictatorship at CIA instigation.

Foreign aid without strings attached is an SOP followed by almost all donor countries. A common approach is to require that the goods and services of the aid package must be sourced from the donor country. The problem is, the suppliers in the donor country who will benefit are usually only the elite of that country. The aid package of $400 million for Ukraine consisted of military equipment. One can readily guess that the major beneficiary of this aid package was the US military-industrial complex — a big donor in political campaigns and, undoubtedly, one that does not welcome initiatives to curb foreign military aid.

The major accusation against Trump, that he asked for a quid pro quo from Ukraine in return for military aid, is SOP in aid assistance. What the Democrats are doing is, for the first time, they want to untie foreign aid a — but for a very dubious reason. Trump is under fire for tying US aid to Ukraine to that country’s investigation of the Biden family. If the Biden rule becomes the norm, in the future a corrupt person will run as president and the incumbent administration cannot ask for the investigation of the culprit — a very dangerous doctrine.

It will satisfy Third World concerns and improve America’s image before the rest of the world if the US depoliticizes the current impeachment proceedings and addresses the two issues on a worldwide basis, instead of focusing on just the effort to oust Trump. The proceedings should be devoted to: 1) stopping US manipulation of foreign elections; and 2) untying all US foreign aid so that the recipient country could source materials and services from the cheapest place.

The US message to the rest of the world in the impeachment proceedings is: Do not meddle in US elections — but we will continue to interfere in your elections. If our efforts fail, we will alter the result of your elections even if it represents the will of your people (as what happened in Chile in 1973). And our foreign aid will remain tied to the interests of corporate America.

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Hermenegildo C. Cruz is a retired career ambassador, and served in this capacity in the United Nations from 1984-86.

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TAGS: Hermenegildo Cruz, Inquirer Commentary, Trump impeachment
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