U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s remark “Fuck the EU” let drop within the context of her strategy discussions for Ukraine with Ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt, has made the rounds of world media today bringing to the fore the mindset of arrogant world puppet-masters which has defined Barack Obama’s foreign policy team from the very start of his presidency five years ago. The ill wind from Washington heralds only rancor and divisive international relations ahead.
Victoria Nuland: whence the ill wind blows
by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D.
In breaking news last night, Bloomberg.com was one of the first media channels to publicize an intercepted phone call dating back several days to the end of January between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt in which the senior State Department official let drop the remark “Fuck the EU.” To its credit, Bloomberg went beyond the shock value of the profanity and exposed the otherwise dispassionate exchange of views between the pair on how to stage-manage the Ukrainian opposition leaders in the formation of a new, pro-Western government in Kiev: which leaders to promote, and which leaders to hold back for the future.
By contrast, other mainstream media like The New York Times and the Financial Times last night initially sought to divert attention from the damaging substance of the leaked tape to the circumstances surrounding its release on YouTube, in particular the Tweet from Dmitry Loskutov, aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin: “Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU.”
However, in the meantime Euronews, a media outlet that in recent days has been in the forefront of the ‘trash the Sochi Olympics’ crowd and is not known for pampering the Russians, put out a fairly complete airing of the damaging tapes, perhaps reflecting the pique of EU Commission personalities. This morning’s editions of the aforementioned newspapers of record are more factual in their reportage of the leak and the blatant meddling American policy it reveals.
The only thing surprising in the Nuland-Pyatt tapes is that their phone conversation was successfully hacked – to the extent that the U.S. officially did not even attempt to deny the veracity, only to shift blame to those who brought the tapes to world attention.
Although Russian intelligence has not been named as responsible for the wiretap, its release at this time was a master stroke for the Russians. It came not merely during the latest visit of Nuland to Kiev for talks with President Viktor Yanukovich and the Opposition, but on the very eve of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, which the American foreign policy establishment has previously identified as a propitious time for taking a free hand on the Ukrainian question given the assumed focus of Russian leadership attention elsewhere, on the Games, and their presumed inability to respond to events in Ukraine in their usual resolute manner for fear of wrecking the Games.
Curiously the State Department has learned nothing from 2008, when, with tacit U.S. backing, then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili launched his attack on Russia-protected Southern Ossetia precisely during the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, while Vladimir Putin was at the Games and pusillanimous Dmitry Medvedev was minding the home front in Moscow. Even then, when caught on the back foot, the Russian leadership was able to emerge from the contest victorious. The notion that these Olympics will tie Russian hands if there is a geopolitical disaster in their back yard is beneath contempt.
The hacked conversation of Nuland also is not surprising in terms of the author’s thinking processes. You reap what you sow – and Victoria Nuland is the very same spouse and intellectual mate of Neocon foreign policy leader Robert Kagan, 2008 adviser to presidential hopeful John McCain, co-author of our 2003 Iraq invasion disaster, best-selling promoter of American Empire and rabid Russophobe. At the start of his presidency, Barack Obama knew very well what he was getting when he brought her back to Washington, D.C. from her post in Brussels as NATO ambassador to make her spokeswoman to newly appointed Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. He later promoted her further to her present post with all its potential for causing trouble. She has performed to script.
Another Obama appointee whose relationship with the President goes back to his earliest days in office has also been in the news in the past week. The announcement by U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul that he was resigning his post at the end of the Sochi Olympic Games to return to academic life in California was widely commented upon in U.S. and world media. His two-year tenure in Moscow has been generally viewed as ineffectual though the expectations laid on him by pundits have been diametrically opposed – ranging from the belief he could breathe new life into the ‘re-set’ policy of which he was said to be the author to the belief that he could use his contacts in the Russian Opposition to bring about the overthrow of the Putin ‘regime.’
One of the more interesting essays discussing McFaul’s resignation appeared on 6 February in The National Interest, a publication of the tiny Realpolitik wing of the Republican Party managed by Dmitry Simes, custodian of Richard Nixon’s political legacy. In “The Fall of McFaul,” analyst James Carden would have us believe that McFaul engineered his appointment to Moscow as a way to remain in government even if the Obama administration lost the November 2012 presidential elections.
According to Carden, the president and others simply overlooked McFaul’s intellectual baggage, his extensive (highly tendentious) scholarly writings on modern Russia and broad exposure in U.S. print and electronic media since the start of the Putin years in which he was a vociferous, at times vitriolic critic of the Russian president on whom he blamed the erosion of democratic institutions.
The factual record does not match Carden’s neat suggestion that Obama or the foreign policy establishment was under-informed or misled about McFaul. In advance of McFaul’s Senate confirmation hearings, no less an establishment figure than editor of Foreign Affairs magazine Gideon Rose used his powers to send up a red alert by republishing an earlier essay by McFaul in which he laid out his anti-Putin, anti-Russian positions.
As I wrote at the time in these pages (http://usforeignpolicy.blogs.lalibre.be/archive/2011/07/15/can-a-u-s-ambassador-to-russia-be-expelled-the-pending-case.html), the McFaul candidacy enjoyed active promotion from the Neocon movement in the Beltway (Robert Kagan) and its adherents on the Senate floor (John McCain) precisely because it was believed he could take best advantage of his past contacts in Russia to discomfit the Russian leadership during the post-electoral season).
The sad fact is that the election of Barack Obama on a platform of correcting course from the Bush period unilateralism and hegemonic policies abroad was nothing more than bait-and-switch, an enormous practical joke on the American electorate. The distance separating card-carrying Republican Neocons like Victoria Nuland and Michael McFaul from card-carrying Progressive Internationalist Democrats like Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton and….Barack Obama was and remains negligible.
These bipartisan ruling elites in America are behind the vicious propaganda offensive against the Russian Federation that we have seen in a variety of different but complementary manifestations in the run-up to the Olympics (under the guise of corruption exposes, LGBT defense, heightened terrorist risks). They are behind the aggressive efforts to pick Russia clean of its economic and political allies from among former Soviet republics so as to bring the military cordon sanitaire directly to RF borders. Nuland’s plotting with the Ukrainian Opposition is part and parcel of this very policy. These American elites are complacent, they place excessive store by their own inviolability and, in the final analysis they are tempting fate.
This year 2014 has brought in many reflections on how the world powers sleep-walked into the greatest tragedy of the last century, World War I. Mr. Obama’s team is presently on course for inciting WWIII.
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©Gilbert Doctorow, 2014
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G. Doctorow is an occasional guest lecturer at St. Petersburg State University and Research Fellow of the American University in Moscow. His latest book, Stepping Out of Line: Collected (Nonconformist) Essays on Russian-American Relations, 2008-12, is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.com and affiliated websites worldwide. Also on sale in Sterling and Waterstone’s booksellers, Brussels.