Victoria Nuland is a storybook kind of name you could hang on an actress. It’s a good fit for the reigning princess of an over the rainbow place where rulers are wise and peasants are prosperous. If such a Eurotopia doesn’t already exist, well, it ought to and it can. Euro-crats just have to change course and put subjects of the realm on the path to enlightenment. That’s a route you can only traverse, incidentally, by shutting up and keeping the hind quarters of an enlightened one in front of you for the trip.
In the real world Madame Nuland is an employee of the US State Department who, for the time being, goes by the title Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. Her magnetism is metaphysically bipolar. It magically keeps Democrats and Republicans equally attracted. All that charm can throw circuit breakers when she try’s turning it on foreigners and reporters. The lady made her splash into the annals of international intrigue after a phone call to the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, was recorded by a third party and put on YouTube in February 2014. “I think we are in play,” Pyatt declares, from there he and the boss picked who else got to play, and who didn’t, in Ukraine’s interim government. They didn’t seem to notice the elected one was still in office.
Only 2 months before Nuland bragged to Ukrainians about the 5.5 billion America invested to purchase democracy for the ex-SSR. In the private phone discussion it sounded more like all that scratch went to taking political decisions out of the hands of 44 million people. “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government,” Nuland monarchically decides, “I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s a good idea”…”I think Yats (banker Arseniy Yatsenyuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.”
The mainstream press didn’t make much of the un-democratic scheming going on at the time. The Assistant Secretary colorfully distracted the world from the substance of the conversation with the line: “Fuck the EU.” Americans weren’t offended. They take their princesses with a pinch of salt these days.
Ladies who speak for the US Diplomatic corps are just as good faking hypersensitivity as any man. Jen Psaki called the leaked call “a new low in Russian tradecraft.” News of NSA listening in on their private conversations still kept foreign leaders distant and surly in early 2014. Psaki must have meant that our side would never stoop to spilling dirt that juicy to the rabble. Only a madman shares the fruits of “tradecraft” with all those little nobodies plying trades. Free world rulers need freedom from scrutiny. Otherwise the governed classes might get the idea they’ve been manipulated.
So far the US government has provided no evidence the Russians let everybody else in on the tidy little plot. It’s possible a prankster with a contraption available on the internet for $50 pulled it off. The question of who the rat was lost some relevance March 11th. 2014. That’s when the people of Crimea declared independence from the state of Ukraine. The plot thickened when they voted to re-Russify 5 days later. The audacity of self-determination unified opinions throughout the major media and DC double-think-tanking circuits. News-mouths, from MSNBC to Fox and everywhere in between, were just as uncompromising about Ukraine staying together as they were about Serbia breaking apart 15 years earlier. Plebiscites equal rebellious chaos when Foggy Bottom doesn’t approve.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, that’s “Yats” to BFFs, laid down the law to Crimean pols who dared to allow the referendum as soon as Nuland turned him loose:
“We will find all of them-if it takes one year, two years-and bring them to justice and try them in Ukrainian and international courts. The ground will burn under their feet.”
Yats received 7% of votes cast in the 2010 general election for president. The Rada (Ukrainian parliament) made him interim prime minister by 371 to 1 February 27, 2014. Earlier in the month the far more popular Viltali Klitschko and Oleh Tyahnybok were considered more likely contenders. What neither of them had, as the infamous phone call revealed, was Nuland backing him up. Naturally Arseniy doesn’t think the man on the street has any business voting without his, or US, supervision.
In January Mr. Yatsenyuk was in Germany and made the following remarks to ARD (German PBS) interviewer Pinar Atalay:
“Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on world order and order in Europe. All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany”. – [born in 1974, Yats’ vivid memory rivals Bill O’Reilly’s]-“That has to be avoided. And nobody has the right to rewrite the results of Second World War. And that is exactly what Russia’s President Putin is trying to do.”
Putin, 22 years closer to the war, may need help with Arseniy’s references. Yats is either getting his wars or his results mixed up. The Institute for Historical Review wouldn’t get caught running his revision. Details of Russian “aggression” in the Ukraine are sketchy even to the ones hellbent on making the most of it. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee March 10th Nuland testified:
“This manufactured conflict-controlled by the Kremlin; fueled by Russian tanks and heavy weapons; financed at Russian taxpayers expense-has cost the lives of more than 6000 Ukrainians, but also of hundreds of young Russian sent to fight and die there by the Kremlin, in a war their government denies.”
All that big talk wasn’t accompanied by a single photograph from a drone, a satellite, a journalist, a spy or even a cellphone. Victoria, who once called Russian espionage “pretty impressive”, hasn’t been dazzling anyone with the American brand. Did Snowden exaggerate all that super-duper snoopology? Have the separatists outwitted the NSA by staying in touch with Putin’s army using smoke signals? At least Colin Powell gave us pictures of a trailer park as proof of Saddam’s treachery.
When pressed by Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) on Russian losses, Nuland put the numbers at between 4 and 500. Corker sounded disappointed with less than 1000. No source was provided for the figure or the “more than 6000 Ukrainians.” When asked if “In practical terms does that [Russian action] constitute an invasion?” Nuland responded: “We have used that word in the past, yes.” The Guardian put out a fairly comprehensive article March 4th detailing the administration’s avoidance of the term. Some White House midwives are finding the patient less pregnant than others. If the two countries are at war it’s a weird one. Throughout the conflict Russia has never cut off fuel flow to Ukraine completely. This is only one contradiction to the brutal clash State continually describes.
Things are awfully complicated in Ukraine and particularly the Donbass region. 2010 demographic maps mark a stark east-west geographic divide between those who voted for and against deposed President Yanucovych. There’s no question the fugitive chief-exec enjoyed his most intense support among Russian speaking Ukrainians. The fact remains he was run out of town on a rail over an economic treaty particularly loathed by ultra-nationalist types with a high tolerance for Nazi-style ideals. What would be the reaction of the US press if a Russian foreign service employee, one rung below Segei Lavrov himself, crowed to the media about handing out sandwiches during the Occupy protests or at the Bundy ranch the way Nuland did in the Maidan Square demonstrations?
Meanwhile the best “intelligence” on Putin’s skullduggery we’ve got from our woman in Kiev so far are grainy pictures of “a bearded man clearly a GRU agent.“ Wow, in East Ukraine? Near a Russian Naval base and several divisions of troops? Now there’s a dastardly plot no one could have suspected. The Ukraine was a part of Russia for well over 200 years. Did idealists who grew up a continent and an ocean away really expect to dismantle the empire without any adjustments? American interventionists are like street urchins pouncing on a handful of coins dropped by an old man.
Back in 2005, shortly after Americans learned how urgently our attention was necessary there, Foreign Affairs began its “Ukraine’s Orange Revolution” article:
“Razom nas bahato! Nas ne podolaty!”-“Together we are many! We cannot be defeated!”
This was the chant of protesters who refused to accept Yanukovich’s first election in a November 2004 runoff. The reform candidate, Victor Yushchenko, maintained a clear lead in exit polling and worldwide media called fraud. Ukraine’s Supreme Court mandated a new poll that Yushchenko won. During a five year term the president fired his own government and dissolved the Rada twice. Things were in constant upheaval. In the 2010 election the incumbent couldn’t even muster 6% of the vote. Yanukovoch’s victory went undisputed this time.
On his way out of office Yushchenko made Stepan Bandera, a nationalist who cooperated extensively with the Nazis, official Hero of Ukraine. Results like this took no wind from the sails of US internationalists keen for another go stirring the pot in Kiev. American “experts” never notice anything disturbing about pro-western Ukrainians nostalgia for the Axis. Yet they find fascism in any movement that doesn’t kneel before political convention here at home. The US Constitution is the threat keeping the DHS up at night. People who go camping with founding documents and firearms threaten to lay siege on the District of Columbia any moment. Don’t get distracted by how many times Mein Kamf makes book of the month with the State Department’s foreign friends.
During testimony Nuland presented a list of chores American taxpayers are pitching in on:
“With U.S. support — including a $1 billion loan guarantee last year and $355 million in foreign assistance and technical advisors — the Ukrainian government is:
- helping insulate vulnerable Ukrainians from the impact of necessary economic reforms;
- improving energy efficiency in homes and factories with metering, consumer incentives and infrastructure improvement;
- building e-governance platforms to make procurement transparent and basic government services cleaner and publicly accessible;
- putting a newly trained force of beat cops on the streets of Kyiv who will protect, not shake down, the citizens;
- reforming the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) — supported by U.S. law enforcement and criminal justice advisors — and helping energize law enforcement and just prosecutions;
- moving to bring economic activity out of the shadows;
- supporting new agriculture laws — with the help of USAID experts — to deregulate the sector and allow family farms to sell their produce in local, regional and wholesale markets; and
- helping those forced to flee Donetsk and Luhansk with USAID jobs and skills training programs in places like Kharkiv.
And there’s more support on the way. The President’s budget includes an FY16 request of $513.5 million — almost six times more than our FY14 request — to build on these efforts.”
Jet-setting from the East coast to East Europe the Assistant Secretary is above petty details of uninsulated vulnerability to a whipsawing economy here at home. A legion of retirees who fought against Yats’ favorite side in WWII are living out their days in poorly insulated energy inefficient structures under the stars and stripes. Where shakedowns are concerned Foggy Bottom better circulate a memo on the asset forfeiture controversy that’s been raging stateside nearly 30 years now. Teddy Roosevelt started reforming the police before he got to Washington. News is they’re still shooting unarmed people in the back. Just yesterday the Washington Post front-paged a piece on people convicted on phony evidence from the FBI crime lab. Only a tiny fraction of such cases have been reviewed so far. Meanwhile we get another story of unscrupulous prosecutors railroading innocent victims to the penitentiary at least weekly. The US is no position to offer any country “criminal justice advisers.” Deregulating agriculture is a great idea but shouldn’t we try it first?
The Euro-cracy that won WWI tried micro-managing the broken pieces of Ottoman Empire 90 some years ago. Their first major accomplishment was a massacre in Smyrna. Further efforts have blessed the east Mediterranean with bloodthirsty dictators, Qutbists, Ba’athists, ISIS and the like. Treaties like Sevres and Laussanne have helped keep the War, which started in Europe 1914 and ended there in 1945, going on in Asia Minor to this day.
The idea that US influence, meddling or intervention will transform Ukraine into Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” is a highly combustible fantasy. Ideologues from fancy universities, foundations and think-tanks understanding of Ukraine, and world history, is as shallow as it was in Afghanistan in the 80’s and Iraq 20 years later. People will inevitably be hurt as an ancient empire dissolves and settles. Outsider intrusions will metastasize the process into the kind of catastrophe the world has seen before, and continues to witness today.
An egotistical desire for an entry in history books and the grip of an insatiable insecurity industry are the motives driving the princes and princesses of our realm. Each of these forces is bad enough by itself. Combined they guarantee an ugly ending.