The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

USSR/Russia and America’s Record Interfering In Elections

So, who interferes in other countries’ elections more?

Sadly this database is from 1946 to 2000 (pdf), but it’s still interesting.

A total of 117 interventions were made by both countries.

The US made 81; 69 percent of total interventions.

the Russians interfered 36 times, for 31 percent of total interventions.

Overall, 11.9 percent of all elections during the period were interfered with.

Of course, most of this electoral interference happened before the fall of the USSR and before the internet, but I still think it’s interesting that back when the US was the “good guys” and “fighting for freedom,” they interfered in elections more than twice as often.

The same author has a study on whether these interventions were effective (pdf).

It turns out that, yes, in fact they often made the difference in who won. Percentage shifts of five or six percent were common.

I think people need to understand that, US hysteria over the last election aside, the US, since 2000, has also intervened in more foreign elections. Nor does the US always wait for elections, they heavily supported the Ukrainian Maidan protests which overthrew a government, they were behind the color revolutions, and so on.

This is why I always laugh when Americans get so upset about Russia interfering in the 2016 election. It’s like a bully who’s beaten up over a hundred people whining because a smaller bully gets in a good punch one day.

As I’ve said before, the action with integrity on this issue is not to scream, shout, or impose sanctions. It is to negotiate a peace treaty, where both sides promise (and mean) not to interfere in other countries’ elections.

If you think that’s absurd, or impossible, then the US has no standing except self-interest to complain about Russian electoral interference and there is no reason, except perceived self interest, for any non-American to care.

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  1. Ed

    I’ve never been mad at the Russians for doing what was clearly in their self interest. I’ve been upset at the Americans who thought being beholden to a foreign power was worth winning.

    I *might* have been willing to forgive even that, if it weren’t for the secret “throw everyone out of the room, tear up the translator’s notes” meetings and the attempts to set up secret back channels. Instead of saying “thanks for the help, we’re going to do what’s in America’s best interest,” Trump is clearly beholden to Putin. That is unacceptable.

  2. Tom

    Guaido just started a military coup in Venezuela. He managed to convince some soldiers to follow him. Now there is gun battles in Caracas.

    Maduro is calling for his Loyalists to respond to this with force.

    Now we see if the Coup succeeds or stalemates to Civil War, or fails utterly.

  3. StewartM

    Short answer–“RUSSIA!!” (TM) while serious in terms of Trump’s probable collusion and coverup, is not terribly serious on its impact on 2016. Clinton’s horrible campaign strategy of pissing on the Sanders vote and veering right to be run as the “Smart Republican”:

    You must remember, Trump got fewer votes than either McCain or even Romney. Trump is a demagogue, sure, but not a wildly popular one. It’s just that Clinton’s “smart Republican” strategy of reverting to her true self depressed Democratic voter turnout even more, or caused defections to Jill Stein. That’s the primary reason in my book why she lost. Her only hope was to incorporate much as the Sanders’ program, and be credible about doing (ha!!)…not just saying in passing “I’m against TPP too” when questioned, but by hammering it in every campaign speech. Speaking for myself, Clinton could have only gained credibility when she hammered points like this so repeatedly that her Wall Street donors and the professional hawk pundit class started to desert her. That obviously didn’t happen.

    The other things is that the “Russian interference” merely disclosed things that were unquestionably TRUE. To the Kossacks who complain about this constantly, I would ask “how would feel if…”

    1) In 1968 someone stole information demonstrating candidate Richard Nixon was trying to torpedo the Vietnam War Paris peace talks in order to sway an election? And this came out in time to influence the 1968 election, causing Humphrey to win?

    2) In 1980 someone stole information revealing that the Reagan camp was negotiating with Iran, to get the Iranians to hold on to the US captives until post-election, with the promise that if Reagan won they’d be sold arms? And this exposure would have caused a Carter victory?

    Would ‘stealing information’ from a campaign in these two cases be such a horrible crime? Hmm?

    Astonishingly, establishment Dems are more upset with the fact the DNC got caught trying to heavily press its thumb on the scale against Sanders more so than the fact that they unquestionably did it.

    (As an aside, the press should have also dug more heavily into the Russia-Trump connection, too. Both stories should have been covered more).

  4. S Brennan

    Silly post and sure to bring out the nutjobs…oh look there’s one now.

    Hillary lost because she’s a certifiable war criminal.

    Hillary lost because a lot of people don’t respect women who try to sleep their way into power.

    Hillary lost because wouldn’t get off her fat ass and campaign in WI, PA, & MI.

    Trump won because…well…see the above.

    The artifice that the Russians “interfered” with $20,000.00 in ads [of questionable campaign value] is laughable to all observers who are in possession of the tiniest sliver of objectivity.

  5. The only indictment involving Russia’s “meddling” in the election involves individuals “with ties to the Russian government” making posts on Facebook, “in order to sow discord” and/or “diminish Americans’ faith in the electoral process.”

    It has been pointed out that reporters cannot specifically claim it was for the purpose of electing Trump, because these Facebook posts were made in favor of Trump, in favor of Clinton, and on subjects unrelated to the election in about equal numbers. Reporters nonetheless manage to imply that the Facebook posts served the purpose of electing Trump, even though they were buried in a vast swamp of posts not made by the Russians, and amounted to .004% of all Facebook posts in that time period.

    What isn’t discussed is where anyone got the idea that the purpose of these Facebook posts is “to sow discord” and/or “diminish Americans’ faith in the electoral process.” Did the Russians admit to that? As far as I can tell no one has asked them why they made those posts. The purpose, in fact, of those posts appears to be to make money by selling advertising.

    What also is not said is that if we have voters informing their voting decision by reading Facebook in numbers sufficient to determine the outcome of the election, then this nation has problems far more serious than anything that the Russians can do to us.

  6. bruce wilder

    Back in the day, when the U.S. was the “good guys” and “fighting for freedom” there were also norms clearly distinguishing above-the-table soft power efforts from below-the-table covert operations (distinguished by violence and deception and anti-democratic means and objectives).

    Over time, the above-the-table efforts, which often made a show at least of integrity and idealism, were completely subverted by the dark side. That subversion was far advanced from the beginning, one could well argue — I am not saying there was ever a golden age when the better angels prevailed, only that there were better angels in the running, able to speak. There was a Marshall Fund. There was a Peace Corps. Radio Free Europe went to a lot of trouble to accurate and keep a neutral tone.

    What seldom gets even noticed in the attacks on Russian interference is that a number of the acts of the Russians have been above-the-table soft power efforts conducted with integrity, like RT. The Jan 2017 official report commissioned by Obama from the “intelligence community” was filled with complaint about RT. Even the major covert act (alleged) of stealing and disclosing the DNC and Podesta emails was conducted with integrity — nothing was fabricated or edited (a scruple not always observed in U.S. propaganda).

    The remarkable things about RT that are not remarked on is, first, that it is filling a conspicuous void in U.S. void, giving a platform for left (!) and idealistic views that are being excluded by systematically and apparently the Russians see this as being in their national interest.

  7. nihil obstet

    I don’t know what “interfering” means. As StewartM implicitly asks, is it “interfering” to publish true information about a candidate prior to an election? American newspapers make decisions about what news to publish everyday, which will include items that help or hurt a candidate or party. Arguments of both freedom of the press and freedom of speech militate against limiting any party from providing information. Financially subsidizing campaigning, including paying canvassers, can be argued to be interference — but here, I don’t think Lloyd Blankfein has my interests at heart any more than Vladimir Putin does, and probably a lot less than Nicolas Maduro.

    Our electoral system is set up to enable elites to choose the government, from a system where campaigning is made virtually prohibitively expense, where CEOs can use corporation money in elections, where secrecy cloaks the workings of campaign funding and complexity makes them a fertile field for bribery, to use of hackable voting machines. If we don’t want “interfering” in our elections, let’s have open, honest elections.

  8. Willy

    It gets too complicated when talking national, global or some kind of team ethicality. And that’s probably the way they want it. Seems easier to just follow the money. A weakness in representative democracy is representatives making bank from some action they’ve done on behalf of their country, party or mindlessly chanting citizen group. Different metrics are needed for rating leadership.

  9. A

    S Brennan. Please kill the idea that Hillary could not be bothered to campaign in places like WI. How about the alternate she was kept away from places like Wisconsin because the more American saw her the more they disliked her! I do not accept that her campaign was stupid or incompetent – they were working with what they had and kept her on a tight leash to limit the self inflicted damage. She could not even get large rallies anywhere so they kept her in places like California. You will notice she has not increased in popularity since the election and Trump has left her alone because they feel they can beat her a second time.

    It would be very ironic for Clinton to win a rematch and serve Trump right. But it will not happen.

  10. different clue

    It is not “America” which is complaining about “Russian Interference” in the election. It is a pack of Jonestown Clintonites, Establishment Democrats, cultural-elite BiCoastal Liberals, the Deep State-Intelligence Complex, the MSM Disinformation Complex, etc.

    That is a faction within America. It is a very powerful faction. But it is not “America” as such.

  11. different clue

    Here is a thought I wish I had been quick enough to include in my last comment.

    There may be a way to test whether it is “America” which is upset over “Russian Interference in the last election” . . . or whether it is just the multi-group Faction which I mentioned which is upset.

    The test would be this: if the Catfood Democrat Party is able to nominate a Catfood Democrat ticket, and if they reference ” Russian Interference last time” as a reason to vote against Trump ” this time”, and if Trump wins anyway; that would suggest that it was never “America” which was compaining about “Russian Interference.”

    But if the Catfood Ticket is able to defeat Trump with a campaign mentioning “Russian Interference” among other things, then I guess we can say that ” aMERica” is upset about the “Russian Interference”. But if Trump wins again, I think we can say that upsetness over the “interference” never spread beyond the Clinton Archipelago.

    Here is a map of “Trumpland” and a map of the “Clinton Archipelago”.

  12. someofparts

    Russia-gate has led to a healthy downsizing of my list of bookmarked websites. Every time a site pushes that insulting sideshow, they come right off my list of regular reading. No surprise I suppose that RT is one of the sites I like. The dismal character of the crowd who smear it persuades me that I’m right to keep reading it.

  13. Hugh

    Post USSR Russia and the US are not comparable. The US is the hegemon. Russia isn’t. It is the nature of hegemonic power that it will interfere locally and regionally to keep the hegemonic system going. You can certainly argue that the US in the last three decades has been a very poor hegemon. But it is still a trade-off. If you think that the world would be a calmer, nicer place without the US, you really need to stop smoking whatever it is you are. For all the unnecessary wars the US has engaged in, it suppresses far more. Putin’s role, on the other hand, is more that of a parasite. He exploits and tries to profit as much as he can off the US hegemonic system but at the same time he remains wholly dependent on it.

    All that said, we in the US have a corrupt, degenerate political system. There are a whole host of things we could do to make our elections fairer and insulate them from foreign influence, and it is unlikely that we will do many or any of them. I do have to say the irony of Hillary Clinton and the Establishment Democrats being outraged at Russian compromise of the general election right after they had rigged the primary campaign against Bernie Sanders is particularly rich. There is, of course, Russian interference in our elections but it is dwarfed by what Israel does in them. Have to say too, that Putin’s attempts at interference are another example of him not being some consummate strategist but just being stupid and a thug. Trump won’t be around that long but the anti-Russian blowback will last decades.

    Finally, as always, I would not that the US hegemony is passing, and it is not because of China or Trump’s idiocies, but from overpopulation and global warming. It is already baked in that in the coming decades large areas of our planet are going to destabilize and collapse politically and economically.

  14. Hugh

    I would not = I would note

  15. S Brennan

    Hopefully, after an evidence free assertion like this:

    “…if you think that the world would be a nicer place without the US [aggression], you’re [insane]. For all the unnecessary wars the US has engaged in, it suppresses far more. Putin’s role, on the other hand, is more that of a parasite. He exploits and tries to profit as much as he can off the US hegemonic system but at the same time he remains wholly dependent on it…

    Hugh gets the “journalistic” post he is seeking. Maybe EZ-rah Klein is getting old and the WaPo needs a younger face to “freshen-up” it’s brand of neo-colonialism. I hope you get the job Hugh, although, for the record, it’s made me cringe watching you do your step’n’fetchit routine….

  16. Hugh

    S Brennan, if you want to understand the world in which you live, you need to be willing to look at it as it is, and not as you wished it were. Throwing tantrums may make you feel better, but they change nothing.

  17. StewartM


    Here is a map of “Trumpland” and a map of the “Clinton Archipelago”.

    As much as I dislike “Catfood Democrats” (thanks for the moniker!) the Constitutions doesn’t being with “We, the square miles…” Do it off a map that corrects for population densities:

    Or better:

  18. BlizzardOfOz


    I’m sure you’ll agree that the Great Russia Hoax has been fascinating to watch (in turns amusing/horrifying/infuriating). “Russia Hacked the Election” is prole-tier propaganda, so stupid that it’s offensive to anyone who is reasonably intelligent and honest. I didn’t have a high opinion of the left to begin with, but even to me it was surprising to see how few of those exist on the left. Too many are content to go along with the BS (or at least parts of it, or hedge their bets) as long as they think it might benefit them, or to avoid the wrath of the deranged mob. The Michael Tracy / Glenn Greenwald types are vanishingly few. Proof again that the corruption of our society it’s just a problem with elites — we ourselves, the people, are corrupt.

  19. S Brennan


    Disappointing, deeply disappointing to watch how

    “many are content to go along with the BS…hedging their bets as long as they think it might benefit them”

    As I said above, the behavior of those using the 3-letter agency’s “russia, Russia, RUSSIA” hokum to advance their “seriousness” creds is cringe-worthy. It’s as bad as when I watched EZ-rah Klien /Jon Alter sell the Iraq-Invasion to “liberals”. Without the “liberals” support for wars of neocolonialism in the past 28 years, millions innocent citizens would be alive and relatively prosperous.

    The vast majority of those who think themselves “liberal, progressive, left” are just posers, yeah, they’re looking for social cred but, when told to, just as willing to make sure the trains run on time…sending millions to meet their end in modern day death camps.

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