Decoding Victoria Nuland’s “retirement”

12 Mar

Even while rubber tramping the northwest fens, I was mulling over this abrupt departure. It’s not the first time of course. She also left the State Department in January 2017, when Donald Trump took office with declared intent – soon to be “Russiagated” – of building bridges with Moscow. 1 But Victoria “fuck the EU” Nuland had served under Bush and Obama, and would do so again under Biden. Neither Democrat nor Republican, Nuland, married to PNAC founder and leading Neocon Robert Kagan 2 – and by that fact embedded in one of the baddest dynasties in the Beltway – is every inch the Neocon.

While US meddling in Ukraine and more generally in Russia’s front yard goes back further than the Maidan Coup of February 2014, she was the prime architect of that regime change. As such she bears the heaviest responsibility for all that followed. I mean eight years of civil war prior to February 2022; at which point we in the West, having paid scant attention to 14,000 slain in the Donbas – ditto Nazi resurgence which had  concerned upmarket and Jewish media but now did not – were invited to a media orgy of outrage at Putin’s “unprovoked” invasion. 3

Which put her squarely in the blame frame when Ukraine was relegated – that failed counter-offensive the last straw – from sacrificial pawn to political and economic deadweight for an “indispensable nation” famously averse to losers.

So what does her going mean? A few pointers:

  • She jumped when the alternative was to be pushed. (Blinken’s words of acceptance were not what you’d call effusive. He did not thank her for her services, and instead of referring to a ‘resignation’, chose to speak of her ‘retirement’.)
  • It’s a signal, like the blocked $60bn, that Ukraine is a lost cause from which Washington under current management wants out. (With the odds on favourite, come January ’25, still less inclined to throw good money after bad.)
  • Even more importantly it signals that a decades old stand-off within the US ruling class – Russia hawks v China hawks 4 – has for now and the foreseeable future been settled in favour of the latter and to the defenestration of the Kagan-Nuland wing. For this reason also, an incoming Trump Administration will prioritise the challenge from China.

Here to discuss these things in a shade under 27 minutes are the two Alexes at the Duran.

* * *

  1. “… building bridges with Moscow”  meant taking on not only a military industrial complex wedded to war, but also a Deep State whose weaponising of ISIS as America’s de facto foreign legion made the stated purpose of such cooperation anathema to it. Trump had neither the political capital nor the savvy to fight so daunting an alliance of oppositional forces. (Not that a US president smarter and more experienced could have done so. To believe that, when eight years of Obama failed even to shut down Gitmo, is to make the childish error of taking US ‘democracy’ at face value.)
  2. Kagan quit the Republican Party at the same time his wife left the State Department, and for the same reason: the incoming Trump administration with its talk of mending fences with Russia.
  3. Noam Chomsky quipped: “Of course Russia was provoked. That’s why the media keep saying it was unprovoked!”   Folk less high-minded than I might suspect corporate media journalists of taking verbatim instructions.

  4. I don’t say the China-Russia split is fundamental. Just that for those, including but not confined to the Trump camp, who questioned the wisdom of alienating Russia and China simultaneously, decades of Poking the Bear on her borders was nuts. Not because they loved Russia but because war on multiple fronts only ever appealed to those whose PNAC hubris leads to precisely the kind of humiliation the West is now experiencing in Ukraine. The real adversary, they say – from their perspective correctly – was always China.

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