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It is a cause for celebration that behind-the-scenes neocon mover-and-shaker Under Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, is retiring at the end of March. Her replacement is Dick Bass, former ambassador to Afghanistan, and like Nuland herself, also a former direct report to Dick Cheney, i.e, another dyed-in-the-wool warmonger. However, Nuland was singularly effective, as proven by her longevity and in serving both parties, with the Trump Administration her only time out of formal power since 1993, when she was chief of staff to Strobe Talbott, then Deputy Secretary of State. As most readers know, she is part of a neocon family enterprise, married to Robert Kagan and the sister in law of Kimberly Kagan, President of the Institute for the Study of War. From the Wikipedia entry on Robert Kagan:

A co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kagan has been a foreign policy adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidates as well as Democratic administrations via the Foreign Affairs Policy Board. He writes a monthly column on world affairs for The Washington Post.

Nuland’s star seemed to start fading almost immediately upon her promotion to the Acting Secretary of State position last summer, which she assumed temporarily through February while retaining her Under Secretary of Political Affairs role. Larry Johnson argues that Under Secretary of Political Affairs role is more powerful since the overseas bureaucracy of the State Department reports to it. And he also points out that there is no other gig for her that would be better, even if she had not put the retirement gloss on her resignation.

Nevertheless, it was the newly-nominally-elevated Nuland that was dispatched to try to rally support from African states to oppose a military coup in Niger, which the US had treated as a linchpin for “democracy” and counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel. Her intervention was an embarrassing bust:

This felt like a portent that her star was fading. But the big story is of the massive backfire of her long-standing campaign to damage Russia, ideally via regime change against Vladimir Putin. Nuland was a visible figure in the 2014 Maidan coup, famously handing out cookies, where a democratically elected but now unpopular President had agreed to early elections…but that was not good enough. President Yanukovich fled Ukraine as his presidential vehicle, en route to Kharviv, was targeted (he was actually on helicopter and proceeded out of the country). He was removed by a non-constitutional process and a new constitution was adopted, again outside the prescribed forms. Confirming that the US had its hands all over this scheme, she and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoff Pyatt, were caught on the notorious “Fuck the EU” recording, discussing who should replace Yanukovich even before the coup was in the crisis phase.

Nuland along with Biden also bragged that the US would be able to make sure NordStream 2 would not go forward if Russia invaded Ukraine. More recently, Nuland asserted that Putin would suffer some “surprises” soon; one has to wonder if that included the plan by the German military (note against the orders of the political leadership) to use Taurus missiles to take out the Kerch Bridge (the generals clearly considered this to be an ineffective use of scarce but powerful weapons and debated hitting other targets). Even though the US press is reporting the German consternation over the security breach of Russia obtaining the recording of the phone meeting, there is also uproar about the military trying to advance an agenda contrary to the official government position of no Taurus missiles to Ukraine.

But even before the possibility that Nuland had her fingers in this scheme, there was another big sign of her diminishing power, a reflection that Project Ukraine was going pear shaped. Nuland made an emergency trip to Kiev when General Zaluzhny was refusing Zelensky’s demand to resign. Recall that Nuland had and presumably still had strong connections to some Banderite power-brokers; Zaluzhny was a hard-core fascist. It’s not clear exactly what she wanted to happen but the optics of this presentation point to a big failure:

She’s outside in an empty square, dressed as a political maven put it “looking like a garbage truck,” with no crowd and bad lighting. This means at a minimum that Zelensky (and perhaps Zaluzhny too) refused to let her use any space in the government buildings to stage her talk. In other words, this was a big diss, yet she insisted on trying to apply porcine maquillage to it.

Some additional commentary:

The only gratifying part of this picture is her life’s work is turning into a heap of ashes in real time. But that’s occurring only at huge human and financial cost.

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