LIFE | THOMAS KNAPP: The “election interference” fearmongers think you’re stupid

By Thomas L. Knapp

Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin prefers Donald Trump to Joe Biden. That’s according to William Evanina, Director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

“Many foreign actors,” he says, “have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer.”

I don’t have the words to express how un-surprised I am to learn that foreign governments take an interest in, and have opinions on, who gets to run the most powerful regime in the planet’s history.

The idea that that’s ever been FILM AT 11! material is dumb. And the fact that the two “major” political parties think they can use it to make political hay and scare you into voting against whichever candidate their Bogeyman of the Day likes best is evidence that the leaders of those parties think American voters are stupid.

On the evidence, I guess they’ve got a point: We’re obviously not the sharpest knives in the drawer, else Gary Johnson would be putting the finishing touches on his second term in the Oval Office. But I’m hopeful we’re at least intelligent enough to find the “foreign election interference” demagoguery insulting.

Yes, the Chinese, Iranian, and Russian governments (and probably at least some regular Chinese, Iranian, and Russian people) have opinions on American politics.

Just like American politicians (and probably at least some regular American people) have opinions on Chinese, Iranian, and Russian politics.

In point of fact, the US government has directly intervened in Chinese, Iranian, and Russian politics numerous times over the last century.

The US invaded Siberia to oppose the Soviet regime (American Expeditionary Force, Siberia, 1918-20). It supported Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces versus Mao Zedong’s Communist forces in China’s 1945-49 civil war. It overthrew Iran’s elected government in 1953.

Even as we speak, the US government engages in various forms of saber-rattling and sanctions, attempting to influence the internal and international affairs of those countries and many others. Nothing the Russians, Chinese, or Iranians have done or could plausibly do to influence our politics comes close to what the US government does every day, day in and day out, 24/7/365, to influence theirs.

When I say “the US government,” I mean the same people who think you’re dumb enough to panic (and let yourself be herded in a particular direction) if a Russian troll farm runs some Facebook ads about Jesus hating Joe Biden, or  Xi Jinping looks for ways to punish Donald Trump at the polls for his trade wars on the Chinese and American economies.

When it comes to international political interference, turnabout seems like fair play, not like something to panic over.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida.

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