President Joe Biden’s nomination of Victoria Nuland for Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the third-highest position at the State Department, is a dangerous sign. Nuland exemplifies the neoconservatives who have led American foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years, all while evading any shred of accountability.
As a top-level appointee, Nuland must still be confirmed by the Senate. And while pro-peace groups have waged a campaign to stop her confirmation, reflecting on her career in public service makes clear why she is incompetent, highly dangerous, and should not be confirmed.
In a new interview with CBS Evening News, President Biden confirmed that his administration will not be lifting sanctions imposed upon Iran in order to bring Tehran to the negotiating table for the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?” Biden was asked by CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.
“No,” the president replied.
“They have to stop enriching uranium first,” asked O’Donnell.
Biden nodded in response.
Influential D.C. think tank the Atlantic Council has printed a 26,000-word report laying out its strategy for combating China. Published anonymously, the report states that “the single most important challenge facing the United States” in the twenty-first century is China’s growth to rival their own power.
To do so, the report states that the U.S. must use “the power of its military,” the dollar’s role as the global reserve currency, and American control over technology and communication to suffocate the nation of 1.4 billion people. It advises President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” past which the U.S. would directly intervene (presumably militarily). These include Chinese attempts to expand into the South China Sea, an attack on the disputed Senkaku Islands, or moves against Taiwan’s independence. A North Korean strike on any of its neighbors would also necessitate an American response against China, the report insists, because “China must fully own responsibility for the behavior of its North Korean ally.” Any backing down from this stance, the council states, would result in national “humiliation” for the United States.
Perhaps most notably, however, the report also envisages what a successful American China policy would look like by 2050: “the United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power;” and that head of state Xi Jinping “has been replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and that the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.” In other words, that China has been broken and that some sort of regime change has occurred.
Foreign policy tends to be complicated and messy. International issues create an explosive imbroglio mixing economic, political, and security controversies. Human rights upsets almost every calculation since America’s friends can be even crueler than its foes.
The Trump administration cared not at all about humanitarian issues. Political prisoners were only convenient weapons, useful against adversaries but forgotten with allies. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s cynicism was exceeded only by his sanctimony when it came to the issue.
Members of the Biden administration care more about such issues but have little credibility to preach to the world. The president and most of his top officials were drawn from the Obama administration, which aided the murderous Saudis in their aggressive war against Yemen. The Obama retreads supported radical jihadist insurgents against Syria’s Assad government. U.S. officials refused to call Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s coup a coup. And they supported a gaggle of America’s “usual suspects,” allies which killed and jailed opponents with equal aplomb.
In fact, the Obama administration made little pretense about supporting human rights. Its claim to have entered Libya’s civil war for humanitarian purposes was a shameful fake and fraud. Muammar Khadafy was a dictator, but contra the administration he had massacred no civilians and his threats of future retribution were directed against combatants. Nevertheless, the Obama administration misled China and Russia into approving a UN resolution which authorized an operation to protect civilians – and used the opportunity to impose regime change. It was cynical Trumpism before Trump.
Moreover, the practical difficulties in promoting human rights are enormous. Some advocates seem to believe that the president merely need pronounce his or her judgment and humanity will rush to comply. However, that isn’t the way of the world. History didn’t work that way during the early American republic, Cold War, or unipolar moment. And it certainly doesn’t work that way now.
Awitness at the heart of the botched invasion of Venezuela in May 2020 has stated that the US and Colombian governments were involved in the regime-change operation. Coup-plotter Yacsy Álvarez said she met with officials from the FBI and DEA in Florida and informed them of their plans.
Álvarez also revealed that Colombia’s President Iván Duque and his powerful mentor Álvaro Uribe, who is closely linked to drug cartels and death squads, were aiding the Venezuelan coup-plotters. Colombia’s top intelligence agency supported the conspirators before and after the attempted invasion, and Álvarez explained that “they knew everything.”
But the Colombian government later turned on Álvarez and her fellow coup-plotters and arrested them. Her lawyer has accused Colombia’s intelligence services of setting a “trap,” so Bogotá could pin the blame on her and her associates and wash its hands of the operation.
The failed invasion, which aimed to violently overthrow Venezuela’s elected President Nicolás Maduro, was spearheaded by a Florida-based private military company called SilverCorp, led by former US Army Special Forces officer Jordan Goudreau.
Goudreau said in a breach-of-contract lawsuit that he had met with two Donald Trump administration officials at the former US president’s National Doral Miami golf resort to discuss the coup plans, and was told that the White House supported it.
While front-line soldiers are often tormented for decades by the horrors they experience in endless wars conducted by the U.S. government—not to mention the hundreds of thousands who have been maimed and/or lost their lives—the political elite in the U.S. is not known to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because they are, perhaps in their own minds, too far removed from the scene. The events of January 6 seem to have left factions with a taste of their own medicine.
Notwithstanding, newly-elected president Biden characteristically does not appear to be haunted by any of his past actions; rather he is often boastful about policies that caused great misery. In this exclusive series of articles reviewing Biden’s positions on U.S. foreign policy, Kuzmarov focuses on some of the skeletons in Biden’s political closet.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to go to Europe last week. His trip is now canceled.
The State Department says that’s because there’s work to be done on the presidential transition—a Taiwan visit by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft was canceled on the same basis. But Reuters, citing multiple diplomatic sources from the U.S. and Europe alike, reports Pompeo’s plans changed “after Luxembourg’s foreign minister and top European Union officials declined to meet with him.”
Their reasoning, Reuters notes, was not that Pompeo is part of a lame duck administration. It was that these longstanding U.S. allies were “embarrassed” to host Pompeo after this administration’s role in the violence in Washington this month—violence Pompeo condemned but for which he assigned President Donald Trump and his enablers no responsibility. Trump is a “political pyromaniac,” said Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s minister for foreign affairs. It is hardly surprising he would not be interested in meeting with Trump’s emissary.
This snub should be a lesson for Pompeo personally but, more importantly, for U.S. foreign policy writ large: Our own house is not in order, and Washington has no business policing the world or forcibly remaking other countries in its own image. That image is a mess.
The longest piece of legislation in United States history, containing both a coronavirus relief package and the annual omnibus spending package, quickly passed through Congress on December 22, with little opposition. While technically separate bills, the omnibus and stimulus were debated and passed together, at the same time.
The massive piece of legislation — a staggering 5,593 pages in length — lays bare the priorities of the US government, prioritizing regime change in foreign nations and the imperatives of empire over the basic needs of Americans.
In just a few hours, it passed through the House of Representatives by 359-53, and through the Senate by 92-6.
While the US public was forced to grovel for months for a $600 direct payment, the same piece of legislation pumps billions of dollars into “democracy programs” — US government code for regime-change operations via civil society NGOs — and foreign military assistance. The measly $600 survival checks pale in comparison to the massive foreign spending on regime change and titanic allocations to prop up US-friendly authoritarian militaries.
On so-called “Democracy Programs” alone, the legislation appropriates $2.417 billion, and $6.175 billion on the “Foreign Military Financing Program.” Another $112.9 million is appropriated for “International Military Education and Training.”
$6 billion more is allocated toward the domestic procurement of US Air Force missiles and US Navy weapons of war. This is in addition to the $740 billion defense bill passed earlier in December.
By contrast, the stimulus package comes at a value of $900 billion, with the largest portion devoted to business bailouts.