An American Double Standard Puts the Caucasus on the Brink
Last week, the nation of Georgia erupted with two nights of flames, riots, and civil unrest. The unruly masses made clear their intent to overthrow the country’s government, incensed by a subsequently withdrawn law that the Western press and governments worked overtime to condemn. Ironically (and in contradiction to false Western media reports), this law’s inspiration came from an unlikely place: the United States.
The year was 1939, and Europe was on the brink of war. In New York City, the German American Bund gathered 20,000 people for a rally at Madison Square Garden. Fritz Kuhn, leader of the Bund, declared in a speech that the assembled masses were “organized as American citizens with American ideals and determined to protect ourselves, our homes, our wives and children against the slimy conspirators who would change this glorious republic into the inferno of a Bolshevik paradise.”
Contrary to his statement, Kuhn spoke not only as an American citizen but also as a recipient of funds from abroad. The Bund and numerous other organizations across the United States received direct funding from Nazi Germany. German authorities used the Bund and associated entities to engender apathy or support for Nazi ideals, which were incompatible with American national interests.
The Bund shrank rapidly after its Madison Square Garden Rally. Much credit for its demise goes to the aggressive enforcement of a law passed months beforehand in response to the aforementioned propaganda campaigns aimed at Americans: the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Congressional Research Service notes that FARA “was enacted to require individuals doing political or advocacy work on behalf of foreign entities in the United States to register with the Department of Justice and to disclose their relationship, activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of their activities.” FARA does not prohibit speech; it does not prevent someone from receiving funds from abroad in return for advocating a certain way. It also aims to ensure that the public knows whether the information they receive has behind it a motive perhaps unaligned with the United States’ interests.
If Americans found this law so stultifying to the public discourse, Congress might have repealed it over the past 85 years. It chose not to because the law broadly works as intended. A “registered agent” under FARA has a black mark in much of the media since prominent disclosures must be made of the individual’s status.
FARA’s effectiveness as a deterrent for foreign states to subvert domestic media makes it appealing to any nation which seeks to control its destiny, and not have its people influenced by outside — and perhaps hostile — powers. That is why protests in Georgia arose in a manner similar to those which Victoria Nuland conjured in Ukraine in 2014: because the United States needed to retain its influence over the Georgian people.
NGOs and other opponents of the law contend that it replicates similar legislation in the Russian Federation, which they allege has been used to suppress speech there. They claim that having to broadcast their (mostly American and EU) sources of funding will somehow serve Russian interests. The backers of the NGOs see Georgians as nothing more than puppets, and they loathe the possibility of their marionette strings being exposed.
Western commentators roundly condemned the withdrawn Georgian law for placing a quantitative threshold of 20% foreign funding on NGOs required to register under it. A USAID-funded NGO claimed that the law was “fundamentally different from” FARA because, under FARA, “registration is not required simply because one receives funds from a foreign source. Rather, one must be an agent of a foreign principal, including if one acts at the direction and control of a foreign government.”
Such an argument plays on the American public’s unfamiliarity with FARA, which NGOs in the United States have consistently condemned for lacking objective standards. One law firm notes:
FARA is written so broadly that, if read literally, it could potentially require registration even for some routine business activities of law firms, lobbying and public relations firms, consulting firms, non-profit advocacy groups, charitable organizations, ethnic affinity organizations, regional trade promotion groups, think tanks, universities, media organizations, trade associations, U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, and other commercial enterprises.
These vagaries have become particularly concerning given the Department of Justice’s recent unprecedented expansion of FARA prosecutions. Evidently, the Georgians sought to avoid such potential by providing explicit clarity on the need to register.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who has built her career on converting stable countries into failed states, noted on Twitter days before the protests erupted that Georgia’s “proposed foreign agent laws gravely threaten Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future and the ability of Georgians to fulfill their own economic, social, and other aspirations.”
Well, yes. Suppose the United States is going to work overtime to fund, inflame, and eventually arm protests that cause a color revolution in Georgia. In that case, that truly will hamper Georgians’ ability to do much except fight an avoidable civil war. That prospect, combined with the tangible display of American willingness and ability to generate discord on a whim, led the Georgian government to withdraw their proposed law.
The United States won the battle in Georgia; the American government and globalist Western NGOs will continue to spend tens of billions of dollars each year interfering in Georgia and other nations. Samantha Power and her peers have made the bet that they can perpetuate this game by leveling threats at other leaders, like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. But for how long will the world tolerate this blatant American double standard? And how many more nations will the United States destabilize in the name of “democracy” for asserting sovereignty over their destinies?