What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander if all things were equal, but the fact of the matter is that they aren’t. The US’ concerns about other countries’ FARA-like legislation are insincere and predicated on a guilty conscience.
The US’ opposition to the Bosnian Serbs’ proposal to copy its Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) word-for-word (but just replacing the country that it’s about) proves that it applies double standards towards this sort of legislation after being suspected of this approach during the latest Georgian Crisis. Extremely strict national security legislation is advantageous for the American state’s interests at home but detrimental to its interests abroad whenever others implement the exact same policy.
The spirit of FARA is to ensure financial transparency so that folks are aware that a certain activity, be it an information product or lobbying effort (which includes putatively civil society and NGO campaigns), is funded by a foreign actor. That can in turn prompt them to engage in critical thinking, such as wondering whether there could be an ulterior motive behind whatever it is that they were just exposed to, instead of taking its message for face value. In principle, this makes FARA a noble piece of legislation.
The problem is in its implementation, however, since members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) in collusion with law enforcement and the media regularly exploit FARA to discredit alternative points of view in order to control the narrative. They also weaponize this legislation to make it almost impossible for some designees to operate because they fear that the population will embrace their narratives despite the foreign connection.
FARA therefore no longer serves the purpose of purely informing the citizenry of who’s funding whatever activity it might be in the interests of prompting critical thinking and thus safeguarding the integrity of the US’ political system but is ruthlessly exploited to quash inconvenient points of view. Acknowledgement of this “open secret” places the US’ double standards towards similar legislation like Georgia’s withdrawn bill or literally identical ones like the Bosnian Serbs’ proposed bill into context.
Simply put, American policymakers fear that their counterparts in geostrategically significant states like Georgia and Bosnia that have already been infiltrated by the West’s “agents of influence” will exploit their foreign agent laws in the same way. At the very least, they’re worried that their people might begin to engage in critical thinking about the activities carried out by newly designated foreign agents, thus gradually eroding support for the policies pushed by these Western-backed influencers.
Geopolitically, this could lead to those two and others beginning to view the US-led West’s Golden Billion with suspicion after learning just how deeply that de facto New Cold War bloc has infiltrated their societies, thus slowing down if not outright stopping their plans to join the EU and NATO for instance. In traditionally conservative countries, large segments of society could predictably erupt in furor upon finding out that the West is financing efforts to normalize non-traditional sexual relations there.
Learning that socio-political trends that they previously took for granted as supposedly being organic are really just the artificially manufactured outcome of foreign-funded campaigns could catalyze a complete rethinking of people’s worldviews. From warming up to the West’s unipolar liberal-globalist perspective that’s propagated to promote their country’s eventual membership in its related blocs, they might reject these precepts and embrace the non-West’s multipolar conservative-sovereigntist one instead.
In the scenario that a critical mass of their population comes to passionately disagree with the socio-political path that their country has been placed along as a result of large-scale foreign-funded influence operations, then the West’s plans to manipulate them into vassalhood status would be threatened. Considering that the preceding outcome would have been due to that same state passing FARA-like legislation to inform the population to that end, the West might instantly start plotting a regime change.
After all, this de facto New Cold War bloc’s years-long plot to formally place that country into its “sphere of influence” via manipulating the population to support membership in the EU and/or NATO would have been foiled by its representatives unprecedentedly restoring their sovereignty via these means. This explains why those governments are then targeted by pressure campaigns since the West’s failure to force concessions on this issue or regime change would lead to the failure of its geopolitical projects.
The Georgian authorities’ withdrawal of their FARA-inspired bill under intense Color Revolution pressure thus represents a victory for the Golden Billion since it kept that country’s path to formal vassalhood on track even though it didn’t succeed in overthrowing them and opening a “second front” against Russia. It was for this reason that Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin still lamented the outcome of last week’s events by concluding that “Georgia has lost the chance for sovereignty.”
To return back to the broader subject of this analysis and paraphrase a clichéd saying, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander if all things were equal, but the fact of the matter is that they aren’t. The US’ concerns about other countries’ FARA-like legislation are insincere and predicated on a guilty conscience since the US itself exploits this law to quash politically inconvenient narratives for self-interested reasons and thus fears that others will follow in its footsteps by doing the exact same thing.
Even if they don’t exploit their related laws and only promote the noble cause of financial transparency that FARA is in principle supposed to represent, then this could still ultimately be disadvantageous for the US’ grand strategic interests. The newly informed populace might reject the liberal-globalist worldview that’s been forced upon them over the years through foreign influence operations and thus oppose the path to vassalhood status that the West manipulated them to go along with this whole time.
If a critical mass of them come to embrace multipolar conservative-sovereigntist views instead, then the authorities would have the legitimate pretext to slow down or outright stop the process that their predecessors commenced to bring their countries into the EU and/or NATO. That would threaten the Golden Billion’s geostrategic interests, which is why those same authorities who propose FARA-like legislation are instantly targeted by pressure campaigns like Georgia’s were last week.
Everything is about power, never principles, whenever it comes to whatever policy the US promotes against any given country. Double standards are weaponized in pursuit of protecting its interests since “the means justify the ends” even if the US has to hypocritically oppose others passing literally the exact same legislation that it’s applied at home for nearly a century already. No matter the cost, including to its own reputation, the US will always do its utmost to advance its interests at other’s expense.