Election Monitoring- Insulting yet Inevitable
Earlier this month Secretary of State Colin Powell, at the request of several members of Congress, invited the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor our upcoming elections. It is the second time this international organization, of which we are a member, has monitored US elections -- the last time was the congressional elections of 2002.
Of course neither the OSCE nor any other international organization should have a say in how we conduct elections in the United States. But then again neither should the federal government. Unlike the other member states of the OSCE, the United States has a federalist system where no single national authority runs our elections. Under Article II, presidential elections- as opposed to congressional elections- are run by the states themselves. Hence the electoral college, which essentially gives us 50 state elections.
Therefore the invitation was not Secretary Powell’s to extend. I would bet the idea of OSCE monitors might be received with some hostility by many state and local governments.
We should be wary about organizations like the OSCE that seek to involve themselves in our electoral process. The OSCE in particular has a terrible record in the newly-democratic countries of central Europe, where it normally operates. According to groups that follow the conduct of the OSCE, this organization does much more to undermine free elections than to promote them.
In Bosnia in 1996, for example, the OSCE gave its seal of approval to parliamentary elections despite the fact that an impossible 107 percent of the possible voting-age population had voted. In 1998, the OSCE observer team that was to monitor the cease-fire between the Serbs and Albanians was caught sending targeting information back to the US and European Union in advance of the US-led attack on Serbia. This year, the OSCE approved the election of Mikheil Saakashvili in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with a Saddam Hussein-like 97 percent of the vote! There are dozens more similar examples.
The problem with the OSCE is that it really is just a policy tool of its larger member countries, primarily the US and European Union. Both the US and EU have made the grave mistake of manipulating the political and electoral process in the former countries of Eastern Europe, leading, ironically, to the remarkable come-back of former communists in most of these new democracies. Have we spent 40 years and countless billions of dollars in our struggle against communism to engineer the return of these kinds of people to power?
Asked last week about monitoring the US elections, an OSCE spokesperson displayed the arrogance typical of these international bureaucrats, responding that, “The U.S. is obliged to invite us.”
The real issue goes much deeper than this election, foreign monitors, and the corrupt OSCE, however. The real issue is the sovereignty the United States voluntarily gives up every time it joins an international organization like the United Nations or the OSCE. We have unwisely joined organizations like this so as to meddle in the elections of other member countries, but when they wish to meddle in ours we cry “foul.” We want it both ways -- to meddle in the affairs of other countries but to be immune from their meddling in ours. But it doesn’t work that way. Having created this monster, it is now coming back to haunt us.
We send more than 25 million dollars to the OSCE each year, financing almost ten percent of the organization’s budget. It is time to end this waste of money. We need to end our membership and participation in the OSCE immediately. When we undermine the sovereignty of other nations we undermine our own sovereignty as well.