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Archive for May, 2008

Defeating Foreign Influence

May 5th, 2008 by

k_street.jpgIn the 1930s, it was revealed that the Nazi government had hired the Ivy Lee public relations firm to do its bidding within the United States.  This revelation led to the adoption of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), which required firms lobbying for foreign governments to register their activities with the Justice Department.

By making such activities public, FARA was expected to result in the reduction and near elimination of such foreign lobbying on U.S. soil.  However, the practice has only expanded and further developed over time.

Today, virtually any country willing to pay the right price can hire the infamous K Street lobby firms to push their agenda in the American political arena.  These firms are often comprised of former lawmakers, executive branch officials, academics and top public relations specialists.

Oppressive regimes and dictators ranging from Mobutu in Zaire, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the military junta in Burma, and the apartheid regime in South Africa, at one-time or another, have all employed such firms to curry favor in Washington and candy-coat their image.

Of course, Turkey is one of the most notorious foreign employers of Washington lobbyists.  For years, it has paid millions of dollars to such firms as International Advisors Inc., The Livingston Group, Fleishman-Hillard, and DLA Piper to suppress recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the U.S., just as it stifles discussion of the issue within its own borders.

This point highlights the fact that ending Turkey’s gag rule on the United States and passing H.Res.106 (the Armenian Genocide Resolution) is about more than reaffirming a historical truth; it’s about taking democracy out of the hands of K Street lobbyists and their foreign backers and putting it back in the hands of the citizenry.

There is an undeniable democratic deficit in the U.S. when the media and elected officials are pressured and persuaded to accept certain policies at the behest of foreign agents.  We must work to eliminate foreign influence over what happens in our country.

Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is an inseparable part of this larger struggle for democracy and ending lobbyist control over our government.

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