MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

How To Make American Foreign Policy Yours – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2019

The only thing missing is mention of AIPAC.

https://original.antiwar.com/Ryan_Summers/2019/11/12/how-to-make-american-foreign-policy-yours/

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

 

“Legislation Is Prepared by Lobbyists All the Time”

Foreign powers have a remarkably direct way of making sure their voices are heard in Washington: let their lobbyists script what various members of Congress say. That may sound wild, but it’s actually commonplace. Lee Fang of the Intercept reported a typical example of this recently. He discovered that, on November 13, 2017, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, read verbatim into the congressional record a set of talking points given to his office by lobbyists working for the Saudi government…

Buying Think-Tank Thinking

Foreign powers have ample ability, through their lobbyists, to directly influence congressional legislation. They also have at least three indirect, perfectly legal avenues for trying to shift US foreign policy in their favor: think tanks, the media, and academia.

As CIP’s recent report on the influence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in America documented, lobbyists hired by foreign powers often work directly with influential think tanks to shape the narrative about the countries they represent. They meet with think-tank experts, provide them with talking points, offer research assistance, and sometimes even give them all-expense-paid trips to the country in question…

Shaping the Media Narrative

Media outlets are another prime target of foreign influence operations. Some governments, of course, run their own media outlets in America and many of these are required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. China’s CCTV and Russia’s RT, which was deemed “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet” in the Director of National Intelligence’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, are obvious examples. And, of course, foreign powers continue to engage in a number of illegal Twitter and Facebook activities meant to influence domestic politics, as well as American views of their own countries. In early November, for example, two former Twitter employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia and accessing the private information of the Kingdom’s critics in the US

Generally ignored, however, are the ways in which foreign powers often engage in legal media manipulation that neither they, nor such outlets, are required to tell viewers or listeners about. One of the most common tactics is simply to work closely with reporters covering issues of importance to them. No surprise then that the Center for International Policy’s investigations have consistently found journalists among the top targets of registered foreign agents. In some cases it’s fairly easy to see how this influence gets converted into extremely positive spin on their behalf…

Foreign Influence in the Ivory Tower

While foreign influence in Washington has consistently made front-page headlines, it’s arguably just as pervasive at American universities. Chinese influence has, for instance, garnered considerable attention in recent years. That country’s Confucius Institutes, ostensibly language and cultural centers at American colleges paid for by the Chinese government, have been the focus of eye-opening congressional investigations on the role foreign governments can play on campus. As a Senate investigation reported in early 2019, “Confucius Institute funding comes with strings that can compromise academic freedom,” allowing the Chinese government to play censor at academic conferences on US soil and even censor course materials critical of China…

Expanding the Spotlight to Perfectly Legal Foreign Influence

The scrutiny placed on malign actors like Rudy Giuliani’s associates and their alleged dealings with Ukrainian elites to compromise an American election is certainly warranted. We live in a world in which the ability of foreign powers to undermine American democracy (as this country once undermined democracies elsewhere) remains a genuine threat. Seldom, however, does anyone even think about the influence operations of foreign powers – operations that are perfectly legal and don’t garner headlines.

The American political system, which has always been vulnerable to outside influence, is arguably more susceptible to foreign meddling now than it has been in decades – and most of it is perfectly legal. From woefully inadequate disclosures regarding conflicts of interest by witnesses testifying before Congress to foreign agents filling campaign coffers and literally writing our laws, as well as influencing think tanks, media outlets, and universities, there remain a host of legal ways for foreign powers to try to bend our policies and thinking to their will. While it’s imperative that we be vigilant in rooting out illegal foreign influence, if American democracy is to remain “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” a bright light should be directed onto all forms of influence that seek to undermine it.

Be seeing you

 

 

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