Washington, D.C. — The mainstream media continues to report heavily on Russian interference in the U.S. election process narrative, but according to a peer reviewed study by Dov Levin, a fellow in the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, the United States is king when it comes to election meddling.
Attempts at intervening in the internal domestic politics of other countries is nothing new, and the U.S. and Russia both have a long history of spreading political propaganda, covertly supporting military coups, channeling funds and rigging polls, according to Levin’s research.
Levin’s research indicates that between 1946 and 2000 there were 117 combined “partisan electoral interventions” between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia, or “one in every nine competitive national level executive election”; with the U.S. accounting for nearly 70 percent of the cases of election meddling.
In a brief summary of his research, Levin wrote:
In a dataset I constructed (called PEIG) the US and the USSR/Russia have intervened in this manner 117 times between 1946 and 2000–or, put another way, in about one of every nine competitive national level executive elections during this period. Both countries used a variety of methods for this purpose, including public threats or promises, the secret provision of money to the preferred party or candidate’s campaign, “dirty tricks” such as the release of true (or false) damaging information about the undesired side, or either an increase in foreign aid or other assistance before election day or a withdrawal this kind of aid.
At least 21 of the interventions reportedly took place in the post-Cold War era between 1990 and 2000, of which 18 were carried out by the United States. The cases involved varying degrees of interference, but nearly two thirds of the meddling was done covertly, with voters being completely unaware that a foreign power was attempting to influence the election process and results.
“60 different independent countries have been the targets of such interventions,” Levin noted, with 45 being allegedly targeted by the United States. “The targets came from a large variety of sizes and populations, ranging from small states such as Iceland and Grenada to major powers such as West Germany, India, and Brazil.”
A Channel 4 News report on Levin’s research highlighted some of the specific countries that were targeted by covert electoral intervention operations:
According to Levin’s research, those countries where secret tactics have been deployed by the US include: Guatemala, Brazil, El Salvador, Haiti, Panama, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Greece, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, South Vietnam and Japan.
For Russia, the list of covert interventions includes: France, Denmark, Italy, Greece, West Germany, Japan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Congo, Venezuela, Chile, Costa Rica, and the US.
Channel 4 also noted that “Covert interventions have been done by many countries over the years and – because they are shrouded in secrecy – it’s impossible to get a comprehensive picture of every instance across the world.”
“Although they usually get far less international attention and media coverage than various violent forms of meddling, partisan electoral interventions, or attempts by foreign powers to intervene in elections in other countries in order to help or hinder one of the candidates or parties, are actually quite common,” Levin summarized. “Such interventions can frequently have significant effects on election results in the intervened country, increasing the vote share of the assisted side by 3% on average – enough to determine the identity of the winner in many case.”
Levin’s figures do not include military coups or regime change attempts following the election of a candidate the U.S. opposed.