The U.S. has been a promoter and defender of democracy treating it as an ideology rather than a decision making method for establishing government, electing officials, legislating laws and deciding policies and public affairs both domestic and international. Since electing public officials is the most important element in running a government, it became the most prominent element of democracy. Thus national elections draw national and international attention. When attention is elevated to action then interference may occur. If action is protected or sanctioned by law then the interference is legal otherwise it is illegal. Most foreign direct interferences on elections are illegal even in the form of advertisement or donations supporting or opposing any candidate in an election. On the other the hand, often interference is done indirectly through a legal front such as an action group or registered lobbying organization or a citizen or retired official.
Paul Craig Roberts in his website ( democracynow.com 7-27-2018) quoted Noam Chomsky saying Russians were not interfering our elections but Israel definitely is - “whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared to what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the President, and speaks to the Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the President’s policies—(that was what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015). Did Putin come to give an address to the joint sessions of Congress trying to—calling on them to reverse U.S. policy, without even informing the President?”
Robert's article caught my attention thus triggered my thoughts as expressed in the opening paragraph. Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, presumably was invited by the Congress, thus his action should be considered as a legal interference in the U.S. policies and/or elections. However, strictly speaking, if the Congress had not unanimously voted to invite him, his speech or action on US elections or policies would not be ‘kosher’; the opposing legislators and citizens of the U.S. certainly have the right to protest and render such speech and action as foreign interference. So regarding elections, foreign countries should refrain from direct interference other than making public opinions as individual observers through public media. Any non-public or secretive action from a foreign entity trying to influence another country’s election should be considered as illegal interference. The U.S. certainly has the right to investigate the “Russia-gate” if she suspects foreign interference occurred.
Chomsky’s comment deserves further analysis from ‘fairness’ or ‘seriousness’ point of view when one considers what is a legal standard practice and what is a double standard. Governments undertake secretive actions in international arena is almost a standard practice but it is not an international legal practice even when it is endorsed by the home country. The secretive interference of the U.S. in Russia’s elections or policies or vice versa may be a de-facto ‘standard practice’ but they are not legal based on international or domestic laws. When a country is crying foul about another country’s interference actions but is practicing interference on other countries, she is then having a hypocritical double standard. Examining the history of the international affairs, there is no shortage of U.S. and Russia interference in other countries’ domestic policies and elections (Middle East exhibits ample examples), perhaps mostly done secretively but some openly clearly of “unfair” and ‘double standard practice’.
The Taiwan issue in the U.S. - China relation is the perfect example for discussing the legality of ‘interference’ and ‘foreign interference’ issue. The U.S. recognizes China as a sovereign nation and acknowledges that Taiwan is a part of China; so do the U.N and 175 countries. Therefore, China regards Taiwan as a domestic issue unsettled from a Chinese civil war between KMT and CCP, two political parties emerged during China’s revolution in the late 19th and early 20th century. KMT retreated to Taiwan in 1949 and evolved into a multi-party government. (Although there are nominally close to 300 parties in Taiwan, the New DPP is the only party ever replaced the KMT Administration in 2000 by Chen Shui-bian and then 2016 by Tsai Ing-wen). On the other hand, the CCP remains the dominant party in control of Mainland China since 1949 under China’s Constitution permitting multiple political parties to exist and form a united front as well as allowing different governmental systems to administer special regions in China. Thus China regards Hong Kong and Macaw as special administrative regions and Taiwan as a province or special region subject to reconciliation. Therefore, the elections in Hong Kong or Taiwan are considered domestic elections in China.
The above factual situation raises an interesting question on whether any country or the CCP government can interfere in the elections held in Hong Kong or Taiwan? Basically, no other country should interfere in the elections in Hong Kong or Taiwan, not the previous colonial ruler, the Great Britain (controlled Hong Kong over one hundred years), nor Japan (ruled Taiwan as a colony for fifty years) and certainly not other countries including the U.S. except China which under her Constitution and international recognition has the ‘legal’ right to monitor the elections in her special regions and provinces. Regardless how The legal right would be interpreted according to the local laws and China’s Constitution, we can first simply and clearly state that the U.S., U.K. and Japan definitely have no right to interfere in Hong Kong or Taiwan’s elections. As for the domestic interpretation of election laws in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Mainland China’s position is a cautious one. On the one hand she is respecting as much freedom and independence of the local voting population under local laws as possible barring treasonous activities such as premeditating separation (an interesting case of Catalonia in Spain is a good reference) and on the other hand she is upholding sovereignty rights over the regions under Chinese Constitution.
Unfortunately, as stated above States do practice illegal interference in foreign land’s elections. Since it was returned to China in 1997, Hong Kong had held several elections already, but foreign interferences persist albeit they are getting less and less influential. However, foreign interference is a die-hard activity mainly because governments can hide behind diplomatic immunity and practice double standard fooling their own citizens. The ‘Russia investigation’ could be a blessing in disguise for American citizens to understand the election interference issue and see through double standards. When it comes to Taiwan, it is amazing such a double standard was so vivid and yet escaped the scrutiny of American citizens.
When the U.S. established diplomatic relation with Mainland China and cut off legal ties with Taiwan, the U.S. passed a Taiwan Relation Act as a foreign policy statement with high moral overture that the U.S. expects Taiwan to be peacefully united with Mainland China and the U.S. values a long held friendly relation with the people in Taiwan. However, this act and subsequent laws such as the Taiwan Travel Act, etc., are passed and interpreted less as a moral statement but a tool for practicing interference (to the point that the Taiwan election candidate must come to the U.S. to get her blessing) and applying double standard (such as the U.S. can interfere in Taiwan’s election but China cannot lobby the U.S. Congress to stop legislating ‘Taiwan Relation’ laws). The U.S. certainly has the right to legislate any law by her Congress but should Americans condone a double standard? Should they cry foul about Russia interference, permit Israel interference, legislate laws interfering foreign land’s political affairs and yet forbid lobbying actions from foreign entities? Where is the justice and moral standard? How can the U.S. be the model for the world?!