At a June 16 news conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden was asked about the phony accusations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. Incredibly, he responded by saying: “How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries, and everybody knew it?”
The fact is that hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been victims of violence, been imprisoned and/or lost family members because of U.S. interventions in their elections.
The United States is the most prodigious rigger of elections in the world by far. Most often, the “victors” in the rigged elections were dictatorial right-wing figures that used bloody repression to help keep massive profits flowing into the vaults of U.S. banks and corporations.
‘Yanks to the rescue’
One example particularly relevant now is a covert campaign to fix the 1996 Russian presidential election. A cartoon caricature of Boris Yeltsin holding a U.S. flag above the words “Yanks to the rescue” was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1996.
Yeltsin “won” against First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov by 13 points — in spite of the fact that only months earlier, Yeltsin had been polling at 6% and communists had just won a majority in the Duma (parliament).
Zyuganov had been calling for a return to socialism. The historic freefall in living standards after the collapse of the Soviet Union fueled his popularity. With covert help and millions of U.S. dollars, Yeltin’s campaign spread fear that a Zyuganov victory would result in civil war.
CIA campaigns to fix elections or to overthrow newly-elected leftists and progressives are so numerous that Dov Levin, a political scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, created a database that lists U.S. interventions in elections from 1946 to 2000.
Levin doesn’t count the bloody coups that have taken place soon after leftist victories. Still, Levin’s database lists 81 covert campaigns, most attributed to the CIA, to assure a victory for a pro-U.S. candidate. The tactics included threatening rival candidates, threats to withdraw aid and pumping money into ads to promote lies.
Many U.S. politicians, former CIA officers and operatives are quite candid about U.S. interference when asked, differing only in how much they’re willing to reveal.
Regarding the 2000 election in Yugoslavia, President Bill Clinton made no bones about the fact that the CIA spent $40 million to try to defeat President Slobodan Milosovic. “I didn’t have a problem with it,” said Clinton.
Some operatives deny influencing elections altogether. Others, like former CIA Director Leon Panetta, admit that the agency’s method was often to “acquire media within a country or a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver a specific message” or work to “influence those that may own elements of the media.”
The consequences of U.S. election meddling are tragic. When the schemes are successful, they block plans for the targeted country to develop independently of the tiny clique of multibillionaires in the U.S. that exploit so much of the world. They impose deep poverty and repression.
Although the bloody overthrows and assassinations of newly-elected progressive leaders aren’t tabulated in Levin’s database, he acknowledges that his count would be much higher if they were.
Over the years, thousands have been massacred while the U.S. was eliminating anti-imperialist figures and progressives who already held office.
Assassination of Lumumba
Called the most important assassination of the 20th century by progressive Belgian author Ludo De Witte, the 1961 U.S./Belgian coup and assassination of Democratic Republic of the Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was a profound setback to Africa and to all people fighting against colonialism.
The U.S. had been the first to recognize the claims of Belgium’s King Leopold, who murdered millions of Congolese people in the 19th century. By the mid-20th century the colonialists were robbing the country’s uranium for nuclear weapons, as well as other valuable natural resources.
Lumumba was determined to win control over his country’s resources and improve living conditions for his people. After Lumumba declared Congo to be independent of Belgian colonization, the CIA and Belgian intelligence whipped up secessionist movements in the mineral-rich areas of the country, and within seven months captured and executed the young anti-imperialist leader.
1953 coup in Iran
In 1953, the CIA — along with British intelligence — orchestrated a coup to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohamad Mosaddegh and reinstall Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The popular Mosaddegh had spent his short time in office struggling to limit the amount of control the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) had over the country’s oil, to alleviate widespread poverty in Iran. When the British refused even an audit, Iran’s parliament voted to nationalize the oil and expel foreign executives.
The U.S. and Britain had operatives lined up from among the various police forces and convoyed paid thugs into Teheran to launch the coup. Hundreds were killed in the coup itself, and SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, murdered tens of thousands over the next 25 years.
200,000 killed, ‘disappeared’ in Guatemala
In 1954, the CIA organized a coup to overthrow leftist Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz, to put an end to a revolutionary period that began in 1944 with a people’s uprising that toppled a military dictatorship and brought in President Juan Jose Arevalo.
Many foreign estates were confiscated and redistributed to peasants; landowners were obliged to provide adequate housing for workers; new schools, hospitals and houses were built; and a new minimum wage was introduced.
Arevalo was succeeded by Árbenz, who continued the process with more land reforms and the legalization of the communist Guatemalan Party of Labor. The United Fruit Company pressed the Eisenhower administration for action to safeguard its profits.
Using psychological warfare and an armed force of several hundred, the CIA overthrew President Árbenz. The Guatemalan people’s guerrilla armies courageously fought a series of brutal U.S.-backed dictatorships that targeted Indigenous populations most heavily. The toll of people killed and “disappeared” is believed to be at least 200,000 over 40 years.
There are many, many more examples that can be given, including the 2019 coup against Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Joe Biden knows this history. His pretense of U.S. innocence convinced no one and can never change the fact that each counter-revolutionary operation, each action to strengthen U.S. dominance, has galvanized anti-imperialist forces around the world.