Why is US Ambassador McFaul Sticking His Nose Into the Navalny Trial?

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

As Bradley Manning finds his escape routes from a life sentence for his whistle-blowing quickly shut down by judges who are closely tied to the prosecutors, and as whistle-blower Edward Snowden faces life on the run from the largest intelligence network in history along with its army of drones, US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul found time to Tweet his extreme dissatisfaction with a criminal trial in Moscow. “We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial,” he announced to his Twitter followers. The irony escaped him, to be sure.

Like the majority of Russians who have never heard of Alexei Navalny, most Americans are likely unfamiliar with the dissident so cherished by the neoconservative regime change crowd in the US. To Washington Post’s extreme Russophobic editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, Navalny is a “daring opposition blogger” who is to be held up as the model of a civil society that would emerge if only the tyrant Putin were overthrown.

What Fred Hiatt and his friends will not tell you about Navalny is that not only is he a non-entity in Russian politics, what little of him is known is particularly unsavory – of the category of unsavory from which the Washington Post usually recoils. You see, Navalny is a political extremist, who was kicked out of the liberal Yabloko Party for his participation in neo-Nazi rallies, who demands “Russia for the Russians,” and who endorses race riots – as recently as last week – against Russian citizens of Chechen origin.

Never mind, though, he opposes the right people in Russia so he is lavishly praised and supported. In 2005 he was instrumental in the formation of the anti-Putin oppositionist organization “DA!” (Democratic Alternative) which is reminiscent of the many US government funded regime change organizations such as OTPOR! in Serbia, ZUBR in Belarus and many others. Also like these regime change NGOs, Navalny’s DA! was funded by the US government. As revealed in a Wikileaks leaked cable from the US Embassy:

¶7. (C) DA!: Mariya Gaydar, daughter of former Prime Minister Yegor Gaydar, leads DA! (Democratic Alternative). She is ardent in her promotion of democracy, but realistic about the obstacles she faces. Gaydar said that DA! is focused on non-partisan activities designed to raise political awareness. She has received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, a fact she does not publicize for fear of appearing compromised by an American connection.

Navalny’s alleged involvement in fraud stemmed from a special deal where the boss of a state-owned timber company agreed to sell timber at below market prices to a broker who shared some of the profit with Navalny, who had put the deal together. It was a corrupt arrangement that had been repeated countless times under the rule of Yeltsin and no doubt was not unheard of in the Putin era either. During the Yeltsin era, it was the stuff oligarchs were made of, and often there was a little something for American enablers as well, especially if they agreed to look the other way. According to those who have been watching the trial closely, Navalny was caught red-handed, with wiretaps and witness testimony, yet still the US ambassador felt it necessary to weigh in on the trial to condemn the proceedings as politically motivated. Even if the trial did not meet with US approval, however, McFaul’s comments were far beyond his role as a diplomat.

Going too far is McFaul’s trademark, however. He has been extremely controversial as US ambassador to Russia because of his long history of frontline involvement in the US regime change and color revolution schemes. He was so involved in the US-funded Orange Revolution in Ukraine that he literally wrote the book on it. He turned diplomacy on its head when he declared that the US “must do more” to promote Russian democracy as his nomination to be Ambassador to Moscow was being considered by the Senate. His Russia experience goes back further than that, however, with a stint at the helm of the US-funded regime change specialist National Democratic Institute in Moscow in the early 1990s.

Neoconservative Robert Kagan gave McFaul two thumbs up when Obama nominated him to be Ambassador to Russia, stating that “the opposition in Russia will feel like it has somebody they can talk to.” Diplomacy, neocon-style.

In the “Arab Spring” which resulted in the overthrow of Egypt’s US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak by US-sponsored liberals, who were then shunted aside in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was then shunted aside in favor of military rule, McFaul again played a key role. As the Washington Post reports on an interview with an Egyptian dissident at the time:

The army decided to get rid of Mubarak, right?

The Egyptian chief of staff on orders from the White House was escalating the pressure. President Obama’s advisers, who are good friends — Samantha Power and Michael McFaul — asked me to come [to Washington]. They relied on me as a source. . . . After Mubarak’s second speech, Obama became convinced [that Mubarak had to go].

At a time when whistleblowers and journalists are being threatened by US politicians and government officials with arrest and imprisonment for revealing and reporting on the massively un-American NSA global spying dragnet, when the US president involves himself for political reasons in a trial that is far beyond his authority, US officials still find time to stick – or Tweet – their noses into the business of sovereign governments overseas on matters in which they have no authority or competency. As long as the beneficiaries, with all their ghastly flaws, are opposing a foreign leader out of favor of the US foreign policy elite, that is.

On Twitter @DanielLMcAdams and @RonPaulInstitut

9:55 pm on July 19, 2013
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts