Bill Clinton: Mother of all election meddlers
Dick Morris botches his Russian history royally when he claims in a Newsmax interview that President Putin held a grudge against Clinton for supporting Boris Yeltsin in Russia's 1996 election and meddling in it to make it happen. Fact is, Clinton did meddle, but Morris is wildly errant to claim that Putin and Yeltsin were anything but always the best of political buddies. Yeltsin, after all, was key to Putin's rise to power.
Morris's broader claim, that Clinton did meddle in the Russian election of 1996, which he cites through his own experience, however, was spot on. Fact is, Bill Clinton was always the mother of all election meddlers, leaving a long string of waste and resentment though much of the world because of his diddlings – done between trysts with Monica Lewinsky if you look at the timeline. So the next time the left cries foul and says Russia hacked the election and Hillary Clinton might have won, maybe the context of the Bill Clinton record will explain why it came back to bite them.
Clinton's meddlings are part of a long, questionable Wilsonian tradition propounded chiefly by Democrats. The U.S. has meddled in 81 foreign elections, according to Professor Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. A significant number of the big ones were done on Clinton's watch.
Remember, back then, in the Clinton 1990s, when the Wall fell and America took its holiday from history, the Clinton administration pretty well thought the world was its oyster and that there were no events it could not influence though a little well placed electoral manipulations.
So, for good or ill, the Clintons meddled up a storm on other nations' elections – not just in Russia, but in Israel, Indonesia, Haiti, and other places. As he put it in the U.S.: "Well, we'll just have to win, then."
Russia, 1996 was one such meddling project. According to Morris:
"Hillary [Clinton] on Saturday gave a speech warning [Russian President Vladimir] Putin against interfering in the U.S. elections. The FBI has talked about foreign interference and Obama has warned about it," Morris said. "This goes back to something that happened in 1996.
"When I worked for Clinton, Clinton called me and said, 'I want to get Yeltsin elected as president of Russia against Gennady Zyuganov, who was the communist who was running against him. Putin was Zyuganov's major backer.
"It became public that Clinton would meet with me every week. We would review the polling that was being done for Yeltsin that was being done by a colleague of mine, who was sending it to me every week. We, Clinton and I, would go through it and Bill would pick up the hotline and talk to Yeltsin and tell him what commercials to run, where to campaign, what positions to take. He basically became Yeltsin's political consultant.
There was more, according to a Dec. 21, 2016 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times published by one of its reporters, Nina Agrawal:
The U.S. also attempted to sway Russian elections. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy flailing, President Clinton endorsed a $10.2-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support, telling voters that only he had the reformist credentials to secure such loans, according to media reports at the time. He used the money, in part, for social spending before the election, including payment of back wages and pensions.
Russia wasn't the only one. There was also Indonesia in 1998. Clinton missed the chance to get Suharto ousted in his re-election of March 1998, so his next move was to get him overthrown, which he brazenly did by May of 1998. In a recent Forbes piece, Hanke wrote:
Suharto was told in no uncertain terms – by both the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and the Managing Director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus – that he would have to drop the currency board idea or forego $43 billion in foreign assistance.
Why all the fuss over a currency board for Indonesia? Merton Miller understood the great game immediately. As he said when Mrs. Hanke and I were in residence at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta, the Clinton administration's objection to the currency board was "not that it wouldn't work, but that it would, and if it worked, they would be stuck with Suharto." Much the same argument was articulated by Australia's former Prime Minister Paul Keating: "The United States Treasury quite deliberately used the economic collapse as a means of bringing about the ouster of Suharto." Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger weighed in with a similar diagnosis: "We were fairly clever in that we supported the IMF as it overthrew (Suharto). Whether that was a wise way to proceed is another question. I'm not saying Mr. Suharto should have stayed, but I kind of wish he had left on terms other than because the IMF pushed him out." Even Michel Camdessus could not find fault with these assessments. On the occasion of his retirement, he proudly proclaimed: "We created the conditions that obliged President Suharto to leave his job."
There was that perennial Democrat favorite for meddlings, Israel. According to the LAT op-ed:
In 1996, seeking to fulfill the legacy of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the peace accords the U.S. brokered, Clinton openly supported Shimon Peres, convening a peace summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik to boost his popular support and inviting him to a meeting at the White House a month before the election.
"We were persuaded that if [Likud candidate Benjamin] Netanyahu were elected, the peace process would be closed for the season," said Aaron David Miller, who worked at the State Department at the time.
And don't forget Haiti, a Clinton favorite, described by the Heritage Foundation:
In 1994, President Clinton sent 20,000 U.S. soldiers to Haiti to "restore" the democratic government of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Three years later, U.S. taxpayers are $2.8 billion poorer and Aristide still is scripting the future of Haiti. Aristide, the likeliest winner of Haiti's next presidential election in 2000, has created an economic, political, and security organization designed to perpetuate his grip on power in Haiti – regardless of whether he actually holds elected office.
So what are we looking at with all of Bill's meddlings? Resentment in Russia, suspicion in Indonesia, disgust in Israel, and poverty and rage in Haiti.
The Castro empire, meanwhile, in Cuba, continues to sail along unbothered.
Now the Russians are demonstrating that two can play this Clinton game. With a history like Bill Clinton's and the legacy it leaves for the rest of us, and the bad precedent it provided to Obama, is there any wonder they've not done it? Maybe some hosing out of Clinton's sordid record is in order for clearing the air with Russia and every place else he's gone meddling. The outraged cries of the left about Russian meddling and Hillary Clinton's entitlement to office pretty well come off as disingenuous.