After a nearly year-long marathon of daily, acrimonious accusations against Moscow for alleged, yet-to-be proven interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, Washington finds itself increasingly mired in its own hypocrisy – openly and eagerly pursing the very sort of interference abroad in multiple nations regarding elections and internal political affairs it has accused Russia of.
A particularly acute example of this is Cambodia where recently, the government has begun uprooting and expelling US State Department-funded fronts and media organizations as well as arresting members of the US-backed opposition party while disbanding the party itself – for interfering in preparations for upcoming elections.
The New York Times in its August article, “Cambodia Orders Expulsion of Foreign Staff Members With American Nonprofit,” would claim:
Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday ordered foreign staff members of an American nonprofit that gets support from the United States government to leave the country within a week, part of an apparent attempt to silence opposition voices before national elections next year.
The NYT would elaborate, reporting:
The nonprofit, the National Democratic Institute [a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)], is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party in the United States, and has provided training to various Cambodian political parties, including those from the opposition. Local news media organizations with ties to Mr. Hun Sen’s party have accused the nonprofit of conspiring against him.
Unsurprisingly, the NYT attempts to portray Cambodia’s uprooting of US government-funded fronts, media, and opposition directly and openly manipulating its political affairs as undemocratic. Such a narrative concurrently takes shape in the NYT’s pages side-by-side an entire section titled, “Russian Hacking and Influence in the U.S. Election.”
While Western media like the NYT claims foreign interference in America’s affairs constitutes the destruction of American democracy, it simultaneously proposes that extensive US meddling in elections abroad – including in Cambodia – constitutes the promotion of democracy.
Unfortunately for many, the hypocrisy this glaring double standard represents goes unnoticed – due in part to the notion of American – and to a larger extend – Western exceptionalism.
Washington’s Khmer Marionettes
The move by Phnom Penh is the culmination of years of US meddling in Cambodia’s internal political affairs and political processes including its elections.