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On Russia, Obama Is a Hypocrite

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstU.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back to camera) as they gather for a family photo with fellow world leaders at the start of the G20 summit at the Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back to camera) as they gather for a family photo with fellow world leaders at the start of the G20 summit at the Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015 - Sputnik International
Outgoing President Barack Obama’s attacks on alleged Russian interference in the American presidential campaign are naïve and hypocritical. All rational governments try to affect the outcome of other countries’ elections and political conflicts when their tangible self-interest is at stake.

The Soviet Union did it all the time; America has done it and still does it; as do the British, the Germans, the Saudis, the Iranians, and the Chinese.

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Of course, Russia would try to influence the recent American election. After an explicitly hostile two-term Democratic administration, the prospect of at least another four years of Hillary Clinton-led hostility was never going to fill the Kremlin with gleeful anticipation.

With both the Democratic and Republican party establishments deeply antagonistic toward Russia, Moscow would be guilty of a dereliction of duty to the Russian people if it had not wanted success for the most diplomatically pragmatic, and arguably the only realistic, American presidential candidate on issues such as radical Islamic terrorism, Syria, and Ukraine.

In geopolitical terms, the Russian government continues to be an artful, amoral chess player, while the idealistic Obama administration still struggles to master the simple game of checkers. It should not be surprising, therefore, if Moscow took the steps necessary to acquire damaging material about Obama's Democratic party, while his party's unworldly leadership chose to equip its technological infrastructure with only elementary security.

It would be ridiculous to think that other foreign governments also do not have tangible interests at stake, when it comes to the outcome of American presidential elections. Two recent examples involve America's closest economic, diplomatic, and military allies, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an Obama acolyte, and his colleagues were devastated when Trump defeated Clinton. Trudeau's center-left government favors aggressive action against climate change, no changes to existing North American trade deals, the importation of large numbers of unvettable Middle Eastern migrants and refugees, and a dovish approach to Islamic State.

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From the Canadian government's perspective, therefore, Ottawa's tangible interest in the outcome of the Trump versus Clinton contest, and Trudeau's well-known preference for the Democratic candidate, made a great deal of sense. And, Obama remained mute, which was in striking contrast to 2008, when his campaign vigorously complained about the then-right wing Canadian government's alleged anti-Obama activity.

Ditto for then-Prime Minister David Cameron's British government four years earlier. In the summer of 2012, Cameron, another longtime Obama acolyte, publicly endorsed and campaigned with Obama, who shared Cameron's liberal views on many social issues, as well as on foreign aid and climate change.

Accordingly, until Election Day, Cameron logically feared a less-than-special relationship with Washington should the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, win the White House. Following President Obama's reelection victory on November 6, 2012, Cameron's Downing Street staff popped the champagne corks and literally partied through the night.

Nevertheless, no matter how logical the intervention from the external actor's perspective, it is understandable that Americans do not approve of other governments meddling in their domestic politics. All of which brings us to Obama's hypocrisy about Russian efforts.

During the Arab Spring six years ago, President Obama and Hillary Clinton pushed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, America's longstanding Arab ally, from office to usher in a ‘democratic' revolution. That revolution resulted in the election of a deeply illiberal president, Mohamed Morsi, the Obama-backed Islamist leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist-supporting organization.

In April 2106, Obama visited London during the United Kingdom's referendum campaign on her EU membership. The American President told the British people that they should vote to remain in the EU. He economically threatened Britons. He warned that the UK would be at the "back of the queue" in any trade deal with the United States if the country chose Brexit, that is, to leave the EU.

A Democracy Institute poll taken shortly after his intervention found that Obama's lecturing of the British electorate went down very badly with most voters. Our poll found that 60 percent considered it inappropriate for Obama to express a preference for how they should vote in the referendum.

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According to a new Rasmussen poll, American voters think their intelligence agencies have their own political agenda. Those intelligence agencies say that Russian government-ordered hackers found and leaked damaging internal Democratic party emails to help Trump's candidacy. WikiLeaks made public the embarrassing internal Democratic Party emails, and the organization's founder, Julian Assange, insisted Russia was not involved.

These very same intelligence agencies also maintain that there is no evidence Russian efforts made any difference in the final outcome. However, there is evidence that Obama's efforts to influence the outcome of the respective British and Egyptian elections made a substantial, and a substantively negative, difference.

The Democracy Institute's final Brexit poll, which was the only public poll to correctly forecast both the winning side and the victory margin, found that Obama's intervention on behalf of the Remain campaign backfired. In fact, it may have made a crucial difference to the final outcome. The poll found that Obama's intervention influenced five percent of voters to support Brexit, a number greater than the Leave campaign's margin of victory.

Obama's earlier foolish decisions — first, to wash his hands of Mubarak and, second, to trumpet Morsi as Egypt's savior — had disastrous economic, political, and security consequences. To this day, across Egypt and throughout the Middle East, Arab Muslims and non-Muslims alike pay a steep price for the Obama administration's "Washington knows best" interventionist instincts.

Obama's diplomatic double standard is straightforward. A devotee of global governance, he believes in meddling in other countries' politics to advance his own ideological vision and enforce his own sense of right and wrong. Yet, he is vehemently opposed to external interventions in American politics that threaten his own image or legacy. Today, Russia is Exhibit A in this clear-cut case of presidential hypocrisy.


The author of the article Patrick Basham directs the Democracy Institute ( and authored the strategic handbook, Scared of US! How an M&M foreign policy can rescue America from Obama & Hillary's Kumbaya World.    

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