Monday, March 9, 2015

Bob and Victoria—foreign policy by sociopaths

Whether Victoria Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan are "liberals" is an open question.  They certainly could be—after all, my youth was spent being thoroughly disgusted by Vietnam "hawks" who called themselves liberals.  Whatever they are called, they are truly a couple of sick and twisted folks who have managed to ruin the lives of thousands of innocent bystanders who had the misfortune to get in their way in places like Iraq and the Ukraine.  Both are part of Hillary Clinton's posse so we face the very real possibility that when the Democrats try to pass themselves off as the lesser evil in 2016, we can be quite certain that the lesser evil will still be very evil indeed.

These days, I am spending much of my time working on an argument that addresses the very real and important problem of climate change.  This really is a life and death matter that will require the cooperation of the vast majority of we humans if we are ever make progress towards a solution.  The very last thing we need is some self-righteous and self-important people running around trying to stir up trouble in the name of their self-described "noble" goals.  Of course, they have a point.  The ideas of Bob and Vikki are indeed "noble" in the sense that most "noblemen" of history got their positions by becoming the most ruthless and bloodthirsty Predators on the block.

Since everything these people touch turns to shit, the question becomes—are they crazy fanatics, hopelessly stupid and ignorant, or merely self-serving con artists living off the credulous herd.  I am pretty certain it is some combination of all three but if Nuland's famous "Fuck the EU" phone call is any indication, it is mostly the latter.  In their world view, it doesn't matter if Iraq or Ukraine is destroyed if the result is good for them.  It is up to the rest of us to ignore their brazen lies.  "Fool me twice—shame on me!"

Neoliberal Interventionists Are as Dangerous as the Neocons

Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland are the prom king and queen of the neoliberal chicken-hawks

Michael S. Rozeff ( 22FEB2015

Kagan and Nuland advocate US activism and intervention throughout the world. In other words: Imperialism

Why is Victoria Nuland reliably confrontational and antagonistic toward Russia? Why does she push power, force, and military might to the forefront in Ukraine? Why does she risk war with Russia? Why does she even care about Russia’s relations with Ukraine enough to inject the U.S. government into their affairs and conflicts?

Her philosophy is the same as her husband’s, Robert Kagan. One article calls them “THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN POWER COUPLE“. It says “Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan fell in love ‘talking about democracy and the role of America in the world’ on one of their first dates. It’s a shared passion that hasn’t faded over time.” Presumably that inner quote is from one or both of them.

For a brief profile of Robert Kagan’s ideas, shared by Victoria Nuland, see here. That article contains some criticism of their positions coming from the academic side. It is enough to know that Kagan supports Hillary Clinton in foreign policy and that she appointed Nuland to see that in foreign policy Americans at the moment have no major party presidential choice except more of the same.

Kagan and Nuland advocate U.S. activism and intervention throughout the world. Kagan has always endorsed more and more and more U.S. commitments worldwide. In September, 2003, he endorsed “a ‘generational commitment’ to bringing political and economic reform to the long-neglected Middle East–a commitment not unlike that which we made to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.” (The phrase “generational commitment’ is Condoleezza Rice’s.) The article’s title is “Do what it takes in Iraq”, which is never enough to suit Kagan. This is one of his excuses for why the policies of war and might that he advocates have failed. The U.S. doesn’t try hard enough to suit him. The U.S. tried very, very hard in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, however. It still did not produce what Kagan and Kristol glowingly wanted in any of these countries and in Libya: “American ideals and American interests converge in such a project, that a more democratic Middle East will both improve the lives of long-suffering peoples and enhance America’s national security.” The very opposite has resulted!

The projection of American power and might into these lands has not produced what Kagan and Kristol forecasted would be the result.

The ideas and policies of Kagan and Nuland are influential in Washington and on Obama. They are always the most hawkish. In a Sept. 5, 2014 essay, Kagan wrote “The most hawkish members of Congress don’t think it safe to argue for a ground attack on the Islamic State or for a NATO troop presence in Ukraine.”

Kagan wants both an American ground attack on IS, which would mean attacks in three or more countries, and NATO in Ukraine. Nuland has constantly made provocative statements about Russia and she supports every move by Washington deeper and deeper into Ukraine’s politics and military campaigns. If Poroshenko is removed from office by another coup, Nuland will be there to influence and control the new leaders. She will anoint and bless them, even if they are neo-nazis.

The same article contains Kagan’s distorted interpretation of history. Kagan stands for the liberal values that came out of the Enlightenment and characterize the Western states. But he also believes that these states are pansies who need to be muscular in defense of these values. “Muscular” means interventionist and ever-willing to insert force and arms in foreign lands; not in classic self-defense but on a pro-active, preemptive basis. In other words, to maintain liberal values and promote liberalism worldwide, the liberal states have to behave illiberally. They have to attack other countries that they deem threatening. They have to be provocative toward any country that doesn’t meet their standards of liberality.

Kagan prefers the title “liberal interventionist” (Nuland presumably is the same.) This policy position is self-contradictory. A liberal position allows for self-defense, but it does not allow for remaking the world and attacking other countries. It is not necessarily the case that when the U.S. government provokes and confronts, or even invades, other nations that have different political setups, this benefits Americans.

Kagan’s idea is that there are military solutions to what he assumes are American problems in Syria and Ukraine. He bemoans “‘There is no military solution’ is the constant refrain of Western statesmen regarding conflicts from Syria to Ukraine…”, implying that there are such solutions. But are these lands actually problems for Americans in the first place? It’s hardly obvious that they are. They become problems only when the U.S. government follows the Kagan-Nuland philosophy of liberal interventionism and inserts itself into these conflicted lands. Kagan wants military solutions for problems that he has helped to create by his constant support and promotion of interventions.

Kagan’s justification of pro-active and preemptive military interventions and military solutions goes back to his interpretation of 20th century history, in particular, the role of Germany and Japan versus the western powers. He sees appeasement as a basic component of World War II. And he argues that Germany and Japan had grievances and resentments that could not be assuaged by concessions or accommodations from the West. He transfers this argument to the present and sees new enemies and threats in Russia, China and the Middle East.

Kagan’s ideas about Japan are oversimplified. The history of Japanese-American relations has to go back to armed U.S. naval expeditions in 1846, 1848 and 1852. It has to go back to friction over the Open Door Policy and U.S. immigration policy. China became an important bone of contention. Appeasement is hardly a consideration in any of this. Just the opposite. It is American resistance to Japan’s policies in China that is a nexus of frictions.

To engage in appeasement is to make a concession over what one owns or has a legitimate interest or obligation in. What concessions or legitimate interests did the U.S. sacrifice in order to avoid war with Japan and Germany? The U.S. did not have a treaty obligation to Czechoslovakia. The U.S. didn’t sign the Munich Agreement. The U.S. didn’t undertake to enforce Wilson’s idea of self-determination of nations when they came under threat from larger powers. It cannot be said that the U.S. appeased Germany. Furthermore, the U.S. participation in World War I, which would have been approved of by the Kagan-Nuland philosophy, had results that led to World War II. It cannot be argued that the U.S. appeased Germany in and before World War I.

With respect to the U.S. and NATO, it cannot be argued today that Ukraine is another Sudetenland or Czechoslovakia. The U.S. has no treaties with Ukraine to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine or prevent it from breaking apart in a civil war. If it did have such a treaty, as it does with a good many other countries, it would only be asking for trouble.

Kagan’s understanding of the 19th century and appeasement is subject to serious questions. And when one considers how different the situations are today with respect to those states or countries that he seeks to replace Germany and Japan with, such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Islamic State, Russia and China, the Kagan-Nuland philosophy of American force projection is far more simply needless provocation and war-making than the non-appeasement that Kagan and Nuland envision it to be. Furthermore, the military intrusions of the U.S. can hardly be said to have appeased anyone; and they have done nothing to promote those liberal interventionist aims that Kagan and Nuland fell in love over. more
We didn't foment a coup in Ukraine, assures our Vikki.  We are merely responding to an evil invader.  And the historically illiterate and utterly credulous USA establishment eats it up.  Of course, they believed there were WMDs in Iraq—it's the kind of lie they seem predisposed to believe.  And Nuland gets treated seriously because she seems to be very good at conning the suckers.  The world of the Predators—being an accomplished liar has commercial value.  Charming!

Russia's actions in Ukraine conflict an 'invasion', says US official

Comment by Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, might be the first time a senior official has used the term publicly

Alan Yuhas in Washington Wednesday  Thursday 5 March 2015

Assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland has admitted the US considers Russia’s actions in Ukraine “an invasion”, in what may be the first time a senior American official has used the term to describe a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people.

Speaking before the House committee on foreign affairs, Nuland was asked by representative Brian Higgins about Russia’s support of rebels in eastern Ukraine, through weapons, heavy armor, money and soldiers: “In practical terms does that constitute an invasion?”

Nuland at first replied that “we have made clear that Russia is responsible for fielding this war,” until pressed by Higgins to answer “yes or no” whether it constitutes an invasion.

“We have used that word in the past, yes,” Nuland said, apparently marking the first time a senior official has allowed the term in reference to Russia’s interference in eastern Ukraine, and not simply its continued occupation of the Crimean peninsula.

Obama administration officials across departments have strenuously avoided calling the conflict an invasion for months, instead performing verbal contortions to describe an “incursion”, “violation of territorial sovereignty” and an “escalation of aggression”.

In November Vice-President Joe Biden, who has acted as one of Obama’s primary liaisons with the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, rapidly corrected himself after breaking from the White House’s careful language on CNN, saying “When the Russians invaded – crossed the border – into Ukraine, it was, ‘My god. It’s over.’”

Barack Obama has so far declined to use the term, as have US ambassadors, the secretary of state, John Kerry, and EU leaders such as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The leaders have probably avoided the word to prevent it from complicating already difficult diplomatic efforts, since it would probably exacerbate antagonistic rhetoric between the parties and diminish the Kremlin’s will to compromise.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN warned in August that continued Russian intervention would “viewed as an invasion”, but has not used the term since.

Major James Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to characterize Russia’s actions as an invasion, using terms like “serious military escalation” and “blatant violation of international law”.

“To be clear we care much less about what you call it, we’ve been focused on how to respond to it,” he said.

The congressmen who grilled Nuland on American policy did not shy from their own heated rhetoric. Representative Ed Royce, the committee chair, not only said Russia had invaded Ukraine but said the Kremlin “has recruited every skinhead and every malcontent in the Russian-speaking world and tried to bring them into the east” of Ukraine. more

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