By Shabbir Rizvi
"The sanctity of the ballot and the sanctity of elections."
These phrases are all too common in the United States. Voting is considered the sacrosanct duty of every citizen, a responsibility that is often met with blistering criticism when one decides not to participate in which president gets to bomb the latest state-designated enemy.
Elections in the United States are important, not because it gives the citizens any real control of their country’s destiny, but because it reinforces the illusion that a functional democracy exists.
In reality, it is a passing of the torch of which candidate gets to lead the mission of imperialism.
When an unstable element like Donald Trump comes along, as he did in the 2016 elections, the political class with the military-industrial complex panics. They would prefer order and business as usual, despite the megalomaniac former president carrying the same imperialist missions as his predecessors.
Be that as it may, an unstable element is not a good look for Washington. It causes public panic. And worse, it causes a shift in the public consciousness.
Trump was the same corrupt, war-mongering politician as those before him - he was just open about it. Trump was the face of American politics exposed for all to see.
The political elite had to smear him, to make it seem like this was an outsider, that this could not possibly be America. And that’s how “Russiagate” was born.
The US media class, who are essentially stenographers for the ruling establishment, ensured the headlines exclusively covered “Russian Interference.” It became a political spectacle of sorts.
How dare Russia interfere in America’s elections? Did the Russians fund Trump? How did they meddle in the elections? These were the questions that dominated American media for a while.
If Americans want to know how it feels to have their elections and democratic processes subverted, maybe they should ask Iran. Or Peru. Or Pakistan. Maybe they can throw a dart at any country in Latin America and ask them about election interference. They should also ask who the culprit was.
The answer would be unanimous – the United States. No other country in recorded history has subverted elections to ensure a favorable outcome. In fact, it is the United States’ preferred way of exerting its influence and expanding its hegemony - installing puppet regimes to do its dirty work.
But it’s not enough for the United States to subvert elections. It must ultimately eliminate any political figure or movement that it perceives as a threat or even a potential risk.
It has just been revealed that US officials pressured Pakistani officials to oust former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan while he was in office. Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, is among the South Asian country’s most popular leaders of his generation. After coming to power, he demanded absolute sovereignty for Muslim-majority Pakistan - a pathway to carve out its own future.
For too long, Pakistan remained subservient to the US - from acting as a Cold War wedge against Soviet-friendly India to serving as a base of operations for the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Khan, during a public speech, boldly asked – “Are we your slaves” – referring to the US’ negative orientation towards Pakistan’s independent policy. Under Khan, Pakistan sought neutrality - moving closer to Russia, China, and Iran - the US’ primary adversaries.
This was in the form of both foreign policy objectives and economic partnerships. Khan also particularly stressed neutrality and peace between Russia and Ukraine. But the US wanted loyalty.
The hawks in Washington answered Khan’s question. In March 2022, they pressured Pakistani officials to remove Khan. By April, he was out. It was precisely Khan’s comfort with Russia that the US opposed.
And now, to some extent, it is back to the status quo. Although Pakistan has made some steps in favor of an independent route, it has reportedly canceled its endeavor to build a gas pipeline with Iran – something Islamabad is legally obligated to do – under threat of sanctions from the US.
Meanwhile, it gets the same old security pacts and hardware from Washington for its loyalty.
Since being ousted, Khan has faced multiple legal hurdles. He has survived an assassination attempt, multiple raids of his home, being tear-gassed, and now faces prison - and has been barred from participating in politics for 5 years.
The US soft coup against Khan is successful. The US State Department declared Khan’s forced removal “Pakistan’s internal matter” despite clear evidence that the US requested it.
It doesn’t take much digging to see this is the modus operandi for soft coups. In December of last year Pedro Castillo, the face of Peru’s socialist Peru Libre party - also suffered a coup.
Washington immediately moved to support the coup-installed regime and moved towards reopening foreign privatization of Peru’s copper and lithium mines - something Castillo sought to nationalize.
Castillo won an unimaginable victory against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori. His victory was supported by labor unions, farmers, and teachers - an extremely wide umbrella of the Peruvian working class.
Now, Pedro Castillo is held under the custody of the coup government under the charges of “rebellion and conspiracy.”
Bolivia is the same story. President Evo Morales was forced to escape the country when fascist US-backed elements within the military sectors overthrew him.
Although the Bolivia coup was ultimately unsuccessful as the pro-US party could not win the hearts and minds of millions of enraged Bolivians, the threat of government overthrow still looms.
The US ruling class admits to its participation and approval in these coups. In response to his company benefiting from the coup in Bolivia, Elon Musk said “We will coup whoever we want. Deal with it.”
Bolivia is lithium-rich, which is what Musk’s Tesla company needs to run their electric cars.
These are just recent examples. And surprisingly, a little less violent compared to others. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) had its first coup in Iran when they violently removed Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh for attempting to nationalize the oil industry.
Salvador Allende of Chile and his supporters were murdered when the United States installed military dictator Augusto Pinochet to control the country’s shift towards communism during the Cold War.
An all too common story from Latin America to Southeast Asia. The very “sanctity of elections” that the US media class and its political elite scream over, the US has violated time and time again.
It is essential to their foreign policy.
Whether it's a soft coup or an intervention “in the name of democracy,” the US in its current form will continue to meddle. It will continue to bully governments to act against the interest of their own people.
The State Department, corporate media outlets, and Senate committees can continue to indulge in fear-mongering and complain about foreign meddling in US elections all they want.
While they are doing that, the State Department is plotting its next soft coup.
For the world - including Americans - to truly enjoy democratic norms and a system without coups and interference, the primary issue must be addressed - the primary violator must be held accountable.
The sanctity of democracy can only be “restored” when the US itself removes foreign meddling from its own playbook. As the world shifts to a multipolar order rather than a unipolar US-led order, expect to see some desperate plays from Washington to hold on to its declining power.
Shabbir Rizvi is a Chicago-based political analyst with a focus on US internal security and foreign policy.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)
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