Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Mystery of the Ukrainian Crisis

By David Warsh

Perhaps the single most intriguing mystery of the Ukrainian crisis has to do with how the Foreign Service officer who served as deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney for two years, starting on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, became the Obama administration’s point person on Russia in 2014. Victoria Nuland took office as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs a year ago this week. She became the “driving force” within the administration to take a tough line against Russia, according to Geoff Dyer of the Financial Times.

It was Nuland who in February was secretly taped, probably by the Russians, saying “F— the EU” for dragging its feet in supporting Ukrainian demonstrators seeking to displace its democratically-elected pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, two months after he rejected a trade agreement with the European Union in favor of one with Russia. She made a well-publicized trip to pass out food in the rebels’ encampment on Kiev’s Maidan Square in the days before Yanukovych fled to Moscow.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin said the other day, “Our Western partners, with the support of fairly radically inclined and nationalist-leaning groups, carried out a coup d’├ętat [in Ukraine]. No matter what anyone says, we all understand what happened. There are no fools among us. We all saw the symbolic pies handed out on the Maidan,” Nuland is the pie-giver he had in mind

Before she was nominated to her current job, Nuland was State Department spokesperson under Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Congressional firestorm over the attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

So how did the Obama administration manage to get her confirmed – on a voice vote with no debate?
The short answer is that she was stoutly defended by New York Times columnist David Brooks and warmly endorsed by two prominent Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona.

Clearly Nuland stands on one side of a major fault-line in the shifting, often-confusing tectonic plates of US politics.

A good deal of light was shed on that divide by John Mearsheimer, of the University of Chicago, in an essay earlier this month in Foreign Affairs...

Mearsheimer delineates a “liberal” view of geopolitics that emerged at the end of the Cold War, as opposed to a more traditional “realist” stance...

The program of enlargement originated with key members of the Clinton  administration, according to Mearsheimer...

In contrast, the realists who opposed expansion did so in the belief that Russia had voluntarily joined the world trading system and was no longer much of a threat to European peace. A declining great power with an aging population and a one-dimensional economy did not, they felt, need to be contained...

Nuland was present at the creation of the liberal view. She served for two years in the Moscow embassy, starting in 1991; by 1993 she was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. She directed a study on NATO enlargement for the Council on Foreign Relations in 1996, and spent three more years at State as deputy director for Former Soviet Union Affairs.

After a couple of years on the beach at the Council on Foreign Relations, President George W. Bush named her deputy ambassador to NATO in Brussels, in 2001. She returned to Brussels in the top job after her service to Cheney. When Obama was elected, she cooled her heels as special envoy to the Talks on Conventional Forces in Europe for two years until Clinton elevated her to spokesperson. Secretary of State John Kerry promoted her last year.

Read the full essay here.

1 comment:

  1. Insightful article, and a nice inside look at Nuland's rise to power crazed psycho bitch.