Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Russian meddling

I think it is worthwhile to notice instances of meddling by foreign powers in other countries' elections. I am not making a systematic search but just marking instances I come about by happenstance. For example, this from Gabriel Gorodetsky's annotations to the diaries of Ivan Maisky, the ambassador of the USSR to Britain during most of the 1930s:

''If Maisky expected (Foreign Secretary Anthony) Eden to have been won over by his Moscow visit (in January 1936), he was to be disappointed. 'I have no sympathy to spare for Mr. Maisky,' Eden minuted. 'I hope that next time M. Maisky comes with complaints he will be told that our goodwill depends on his  Government's good behavior; i.e., keep their noses and fingers out of our domestic politics. I have had some taste of the consequences of this lately . . . I am through with Muscovites of this hue.' "

("The Maisky Diaries," Yale, page 65)
Gorodetsky does not explain what in particular bothered Eden but Maisky was an innovator in openly courting newspaper editors and proprietors. This was shocking to the British,  although they were aware that European governments had been suborning newspapers for a long time. Before World War I, the German governement controlled several Parisian newspapers, and in the interwar period, Germany and Italy secretly subsidized many foreign sheets. Perhaps Eden was upset by Maisky's openness.

The prim and shocked tones coming out of our own senators and congressmen at this week's hearings on social media and politics are mote than usually disgusting, especially since just a few days ago the National Security Archive publicized hitherto secret American messages describing how the United States encouraged (and, from my experience back in '65, instigated) the murder of a large number of Indonesians.

The figure has been given variously, from press reports at the time of 250,00 to500,000, to, recently, a million.

That's some interference. The Atlantic has a useful summary. Nut grafs:

In Indonesia in October 1965, Suharto, a powerful Indonesian military leader,   accused the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) of organizing a brutal coup attempt, following the kidnapping and murder of six high-ranking army officers. Over the months that followed, he oversaw the systematic extermination of up to a million Indonesians for affiliation with the party, or simply for being accused of harboring leftist sympathies. He then took power and ruled as dictator, with U.S. support, until 1998.

This week, the non-profit National Security Archive, along with the National Declassification Center, published a batch of U.S. diplomatic cables covering that dark period. While the newly declassified documents further illustrated the horror of Indonesia’s 1965 mass murder, they also confirmed that U.S. authorities backed Suharto’s purge. Perhaps even more striking: As the documents show, U.S. officials knew most of his victims were entirely innocent. U.S. embassy officials even received updates on the executions and offered help to suppress media coverage. While crucial documents that could provide insight into U.S. and Indonesian activities at the time are still lacking, the broad outlines of the atrocity and America’s role are there for anyone who cares to look them up.

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