As a senior in an International Baccalaureate program, I took a semester of Latin American history, where my instructor spent a good deal of time making us aware of the ways in which the CIA interfered with the democracy of other nations. We were made aware of the removal of elected president Jacobo Arbenez in 1954 by the CIA followed by military junta and later on by a lengthy and brutal civil war that lasted until shortly after I visited the country myself in 1996 . We were also taught about the overthrow of Chilean socialist president Salvador Allende with the help of the CIA and in our English class we had to read a terrible novel by one of that president’s relatives. Those who turned their attention to other countries saw that in 1954 Iran’s prime minister was overthrown as well by the CIA, and it is doubtless sure that the CIA has had their hand in more than one coups that have drawn my own interest and scrutiny . For those who have a somewhat skeptical attitude towards the legitimacy of shadowy intelligence organizations that subvert the political processes in other nations, there is the sinking feeling that sooner or later those chickens are going to come home to roost, and it appears that in the aftermath of this year’s election, that is exactly what they have done.
Yesterday night, after returning home from volleyball practice and a somewhat late dinner where I read a bit and enjoyed some Chik-Fil-A chicken strips and sweet tea, I saw that an article from the Washington Post about some speculations that the CIA has about alleged Russian involvement in the recent election had posted to my Twitter feed automatically because of an app that I have to help increase the number of twitter posts I make. Reading the article, I was struck by how irresponsible the CIA had been, and how brazen to assume without any hard evidence that the Russian intelligence had deliberately sought to interfere with the election only four years after the threat of the Russians had been openly ridiculed by our outgoing president in a debate with the honorable Governor Romney. Having perfected the art of interfering with the political processes of other nations over the past few decades, it appears like the CIA has now progressed to openly interfering with the political processes of our own nation. Not being a partisan of any of the candidates in major or minor parties running for president this year, I have had no great enthusiasm for any of the candidates, but as a patriotic American I desire our nation’s institutions as well as its republican order to be treated with respect and to have its legitimacy preserved in deed as well as in reputation .
Yet despite my own wishes, it seems that with every passing day I find more reasons to despair about the state of republican virtue in my native country. I have lived in a country where the intellectual bureaucratic apparatus of the state serves as a regular threat to its elected leadership–and my time in Thailand did not do well for my admittedly rather shaky nerves, giving me nightmares of police showing up to arrest me for lese majeste merely for expressing my concerns and criticisms in mild and polite format. I find it horrifying that such a prospect could be visited in my own native land, that as a somewhat overly sensitive and somewhat free speaking citizen with only moderate political involvement I should have reason to fear my own nation overthrowing a legitimately elected government merely because of the whims of a corrupt bureaucratic establishment. Should a blogger such as myself be threatened with exile, with dungeons, or with kidnapping and death because an unaccountable elite no longer felt confident about pulling the strings of our nation’s government secretly but sought to do so out in the open and sought to silence those opposed to such shenanigans? It is alarming that such a concern needs to be stated at all. Our government exists to serve the people, and if it has any other aim besides loyal service, such aims are illegitimate.
Yet we ought not to be surprised that this should be an issue. When a group of people sees itself as being wiser than the people, and sees itself as having the right to interfere with whatever political processes it finds to be unacceptable, without having to answer to anyone on earth or in heaven, it is only a matter of time before they will stop interfering with the political processes of other nations and will seek to interfere with our own. Two situations deserve to be compared here, and that is of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and of Adolf Hitler during World War II. In early 1860, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at Cooper Union in which he reminded his audience of the threats that the South had made for disunion if an unacceptable candidate was elected. During the months between his election and his inauguration, treacherous forces sought to endanger the unity and survival of the United States without Lincoln having had the chance to do anything that was unconstitutional or unacceptable. It is this model of treachery that is being repeated as we speak today. In contrast, Bonhoeffer and his brave fellow plotters against Hitler were only moved to action after the reality of his wickedness and evil had become known. They did not rebel or strike against fears, but rather against the reality of one of the most wicked rulers this dark world has ever known, and for their bravery they deserve our respect. If we have reason to believe that any of our elected leaders are sufficiently corrupt as to be unworthy of offices, we have constitutional means of removing them from office, and if our entire political order is so hopelessly corrupt that we cannot rely on constitutional means, then what business do we have funding a spy agency strictly forbidden from involving itself in domestic affairs that seeks to attack the legitimacy of our own political process? Do the spies not realize who their master is? Do our nation’s civil servants forget whom they serve?
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