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Daniel McAdams |

Washington’s hysteria about Russian interference in the US presidential election has long since metastasized to a good chunk of the rest of the country. Hillary Clinton and her supporters have been particularly obsessed with this conspiracy theory. In fact, just yesterday as Hillary emerged to take “full responsibility” for her electoral defeat, she could not resist, nevertheless, pinning the blame for her loss on FBI Director James Comey and “Russian Wikileaks”.

Is it possible that RT, a Russian government-backed television network available in a limited number of US cable households, actually had the power to change people’s voting preference away from Hillary and toward Trump?

Is Wikileaks a Russian operation, as Hillary Clinton would have her supporters believe? I asked Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange about that and he pointed out that President Obama’s own national security leaders – from James Clapper to James Comey and beyond – have stated unequivocally that there is no evidence that Wikileaks has any ties at all to the Russian government.

Read more: US Deep State is using “Trump” card to play the game it wants

Did the information revealed by Wikileaks, including the emails of campaign officials, damage the “Hillary” brand? Likely yes. Was the information true? Also, apparently, yes.

Yet the idea persists that somehow an elaborate Russian operation landed Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Did they hack the voting centers? No one claims they did. What did they do? That is where it becomes murky, drifting into the world of “bots” and “paid trolls,” and, of course, RT.

Is it possible that RT, a Russian government-backed television network available in a limited number of US cable households, actually had the power to change people’s voting preference away from Hillary and toward Trump? If so, it must be the most brilliant and powerful government propaganda tool in the history of the world.

As Adam Johnson wrote in The Nation last summer (when the hype was reaching a fever pitch):

The odds are, the average American is far more likely to hear about how terrible RT is than actually watch RT. From The New York Times to Time to BuzzFeed to The Daily Beast to Politico to The Washington Post, virtually every major American news outlet has dedicated considerable time to column inches to reminding us how sinister the Russian-funded network is. The question is, who cares? Russia Today’s reach is relatively minor.

Is it possible that the Russian government preferred Donald “what’s wrong with getting along with Russia?” Trump over Hillary “Putin is Hitler” Clinton? The question answers itself. Did Moscow do something to make that happen? It would not be surprising, but no one can seem to adequately articulate what that something may have been.

Reality behind Russian hacking story?

Did the Russians funnel money into pro-Trump NGOs in the US? No. Did they spend millions supporting US media outlets that push pro-Trump stories? No one claims it. Did Russia fund “rule of law” organizations in the United States to seek changes in electoral laws favorable to Trump over Clinton? No. Did the Russians sink millions into “cyber” initiatives to “strengthen democratic institutions” in the US? No, none of this is alleged even by the most ardent “Putin hacked our elections” conspiracy theorist.

Read more: US-Russia Lethal Arms Race: Beginning of a New Cold War?

All of this is a very real and overt example of the US doing what some are claiming (without proof) Russia has done: influencing or “hacking” elections overseas. But it’s OK when we do it…

Ironically, the US Congress is about to create a $100 million “Countering Russian Influence Fund” to do all of the above in European countries and perhaps Russia itself. Hidden in the “must-pass” budget for the remainder of the fiscal year is a measure originally authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) that would spend “no less than” $100 million to create anti-Russian propaganda in Europe.

Washington’s methods to ensure its desired party is elected

This approach is nothing new. It is the long-preferred way to prop up political parties and movements overseas that do Washington’s bidding in their home countries. The money will funnel into US political influence operations overseas such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, and then on down the food chain to local NGOs in European countries that closely hew to the US establishment foreign policy line.

An NGO with ties to a political party favored by Washington’s elites will suddenly find itself with a topped-up budget and plenty of “capacity-building” training sessions in Washington, courtesy of the US taxpayer. Another organization that may argue, for example, in favor of ending sanctions on Russia and re-opening trade, will find itself at a disadvantage.

Read more: US Secretary of State’s visit to Moscow: a new friendship or false dawn?

Media outlets that influence voters to favor a pro-Washington candidate will end up with more resources than those who do not.

This $100 million influences voter behavior in concrete ways overseas. It undermines the organic electoral processes and skews opinion in favor of Washington’s policies, regardless of whether they are in the best interest of the country in question.

Until we are able to take a hard look at our own interventionism and influence-peddling in overseas elections, the rest of the world will have a hard time feeling much sympathy for claims that we’ve been “hacked.”

All of this is a very real and overt example of the US doing what some are claiming (without proof) Russia has done: influencing or “hacking” elections overseas. But it’s OK when we do it…

The only standards upheld in Washington, it seems, are double standards.

We are not naive. We understand that countries have sought to influence the behaviors of other countries from time immemorial. On that score, the US currently has no peer. Until we are able to take a hard look at our own interventionism and influence-peddling in overseas elections, the rest of the world will have a hard time feeling much sympathy for claims that we’ve been “hacked.”

Daniel McAdams is the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. This article was first published in Ron Paul Institute (ronpaulinstitute.org). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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