Though “Bibi” Netanyahu won re-election last week, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will still look into whether the State Department financed a clandestine effort to defeat him.
Reportedly, State funneled $350,000 to an American NGO called OneVoice, which has an Israeli subsidiary, Victory 15, that collaborated with U.S. operatives to bring Bibi down.
If we are now secretly pumping cash into the free elections of friendly countries, to dump leaders President Obama dislikes, Americans have a right to know why we are using Cold War tactics against democracies.
After World War II, my late colleague on CNN’s “Crossfire,” Tom Braden, delivered CIA cash to democratic parties in Europe imperiled by communist parties financed from Moscow.
But that was done to combat Stalinism when Western survival was at stake in a Cold War that ended in 1991.
Hopefully, after looking into OneVoice and V15, the Senate will expand its investigation into a larger question: Is the U.S. using NGOs to subvert regimes around the world? And, if so, who decides which regimes may be subverted?
What gives these questions urgency is the current crisis that has Moscow moving missiles toward Europe and sending submarines and bombers to probe NATO defenses.
America contends that Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and backing for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine is the cause of the gathering storm in Russian-NATO relations.
Yet Putin’s actions in Ukraine were not taken until the overthrow of a democratically elected pro-Russian regime in Kiev, in a coup d’etat in which, Moscow contends, an American hand was clearly visible.
Not only was John McCain in Kiev’s Maidan Square egging on the crowds that drove the regime from power, so, too, was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
In an intercepted phone call with our ambassador in Kiev, Nuland identified the man we preferred when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. “Yats,” she called him. And when Yanukovych fled after the Maidan massacre, sure enough, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in power.
Nuland also revealed that the U.S. had spent $5 billion since 1991 to bring about the reorientation of Ukraine toward the West.
Now, bringing Ukraine into the EU and NATO may appear to Nuland & Co. a great leap forward for freedom and progress.
But to Russia it looks like the subversion of a Slavic nation with which she has had intimate ties for centuries, to bring Ukraine into an economic union and military alliance directed against Moscow.
And if NATO stumbles into a military clash with Russia, the roots of that conflict will be traceable to the coup in Kiev that Russians believe was the dirty work of the Americans.
If the U.S. had a role in that coup, the American people should know it and the Senate should find out whether Nuland & Co. used NGOs to reignite a Cold War that Ronald Reagan brought to an end.
And if we are now using NGOs as fronts for secret operations to dump over regimes, we are putting all NGOs abroad under suspicion and at risk.
Not in our lifetimes has America been more distrusted and disliked. And among the reasons is that we are seen as constantly carping at governments that do not measure up to our standards of democracy, and endlessly interfering in the internal affairs of nations that do not threaten us.
In this new era, U.S. foreign policy elites have boasted of the “color-coded” revolutions they helped to foment in Belgrade, Kiev, Tbilisi. In 2003, we helped to overthrow the Georgian regime of Eduard Shevardnadze in a “Rose Revolution” that brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili. And Saakashvili nearly dragged us into a confrontation with Russia in 2008, when he invaded South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers.
What vital interest of ours was there in that little nation in the Caucasus, the birthplace of Stalin, to justify so great a risk?
Nor is it Moscow alone that is angered over U.S. interference in its internal affairs and those of its neighbor nations.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has expelled members of U.S. NGOs. Beijing believes U.S. NGOs were behind the Occupy-Wall-Street-style street blockages in Hong Kong.
If true, these U.S. actions raise a fundamental question:
What is the preeminent goal of U.S. foreign policy?
Is it to protect the vital interests and national security of the Republic? Or do we believe with George W. Bush that, “The survival of liberty” in America “depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”
If it is the latter, then our mission is utopian — and unending.
For if we believe our liberty is insecure until the whole world is democratic, then we cannot rest until we witness the overthrow of the existing regimes in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Belarus, most of the Arab and African nations, as well as Venezuela and Cuba.
And if that is our goal, our Republic will die trying to achieve it.