Philip Giraldi : Diplomacy Is a Four Letter Word

Philip Giraldi : Diplomacy Is a Four Letter Word

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (L) and US ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Payette (C) walk on the Independence Square in Kiev on December 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEY GAPON

American DiplomatsWith Victoria Nuland firmly at the helm of our ship of state in Europe and working to overthrow a friendly government while a group of rich but clueless clowns heads our embassies every American will henceforth know that he or she can sleep safe at night.


by Philip Giraldi

Why is the United States so reluctant to negotiate with other countries and so prone to leap immediately to the option of using force or chicanery in lieu of a more deliberative foreign policy? It might partly be because we Americans are not very good at the subtlety and give-and-take that diplomacy requires, but it could also be because our framework for operating, which shapes what we do and how we do it, is hopelessly skewed. One might even argue that the dominant neoconservative way of thinking has thoroughly infected both parties’ perceptions of how a foreign policy is supposed to work, leading official Washington to see everything in terms of "us and them" while at the same time exonerating every American misstep by citing the largely bogus national security argument to explain places like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.

The vitriol unloaded on Russia since the rise of Vladimir Putin and most recently to ridicule almost every aspect of the Olympic Games is astonishing. By all means criticize Russia for its slide into authoritarianism, but turning it into a target of choice for ignorant media, politicians and White House spokesmen is just downright stupid. Moscow’s cooperation is essential to resolve a number of international crises and the hostility radiating from Washington only makes the world a much more dangerous place for everyone.

The sustained pressure on the Ukraine over the past several months has likewise been remarkable and, under other circumstances, it would all be difficult to explain but for the fact that it and Russia are essentially two halves of one policy that is being orchestrated by the same group of neoconservatives, some of whom have now, fortuitously enough, attached themselves to the party in power in the White House, which is the Democrats. It was easy enough to do as many neocons are basically liberal Democrats if one excludes their aggressive foreign policy views.

Remember the pastel revolutions in Eastern Europe that were sponsored by the United States and some western nations but which are now best forgotten? Involvement of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in places like the Ukraine and Moldova sure turned out well, particularly when the biggest baddest NGO of all, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) got involved. When the Russians and others complained about the activities of NGOs interfering in their domestic politics NED was what they were referring to. NED instinctively favored people who called themselves democrats and were able to speak English, polyglot ability somehow demonstrating their political reliability. They turned out to be as corrupt as their predecessors and no less inclined to fool around with the electoral system they inherited. Tinkering in Georgia by Washington and its Israeli surrogates almost led to American involvement in a war with Russia in which Washington had no conceivable interest. Remember John McCain’s "We are all Georgians now?"

mccain-laugh-afpThose who are aware of the insidious activities of NED, an ostensibly private foundation that spreads “democracy” and is largely funded by Congress, know that it has a Democratic Party half in its National Democratic Institute, and a Republican Party half in its International Republican Institute. Madeleine Albright is in charge of the NED Dems while John McCain leads the NED GOP. Which is not to say that there is much in the way of adult supervision, probably a good thing as otherwise NED would be even more meddlesome than it already is.

After wrecking Eastern Europe NED has gone on to do yeoman’s work relating to the Arab Spring, the results of which are clearly visible in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq. But now the focus is again on the former Soviet Union with millions of dollars going to opposition parties, this time with the full force of an uncritical mainstream media behind the effort. Easily forgotten are two indisputable facts relating to Russia and the Ukraine. First, before the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there was an understanding that the US and Europe would not use the situation as an excuse to expand their spheres of influence into Eastern Europe. NED and other groups violated that understanding almost immediately and now Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania and Poland are in the European Union and also in NATO, an organization that has absolutely no raison d’etre apart from serving as a military alliance against Russia.

Second, today’s Ukraine was largely shaped by Josef Stalin during Second World War, when parts of Poland and Romania that had Ukrainian majorities were annexed. The Ukraine is roughly seventy-five per cent Ukrainian ethnically but ten million Ukrainian citizens are ethnic Russians, more than 17% of the population. Many Ukrainians therefore look to Russia as a natural ally and trading partner while those who once were part of Poland tend to look westward, but what is indisputable is that the current mildly pro-Moscow Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych came to power after a free election monitored by international observers in 2010. Yanukovych believes in strong ties to Russia but is also friendly to the European Union and the United States. In spite of that studied neutrality Washington and the Europeans are stirring up unrest and trying to coerce the Ukrainian government into entering into a formal arrangement with the EU that its elected leadership believes to be not in its best interests. Protesters, supported and possibly even trained and equipped by Europe and the US, have responded with violence.

The US State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has been a leader in the drive to punish the Ukraine and force it to become part of the EU. "We stand with the people of Ukraine who see their future in Europe," she said rather undiplomatically in December. But who is Nuland anyway? She is described in the media as an experienced diplomat, which in a sense she is, but if that phrase is intended to imply that she is completely a professional it would be misleading. She is the wife of leading neoconservative Robert Kagan, who is best known for his assertion that Americans "are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." Kagan, who is quite portly and has characteristically never served in the US armed forces, presumably is Martian by adoption.

Victoria Nuland’s access to senior levels of government began when served as principal deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, a position possibly obtained through the good graces of her husband’s neocon associates, who were in the ascendancy at the Pentagon and White House at that time. She then moved on to become US Ambassador to NATO under Bush-Cheney before bouncing back to Washington to work as Hillary Clinton’s press secretary. In that capacity she has sometimes been described as comfortable in working with both conservatives and liberals, but that would be misleading as in terms of foreign policy Clinton is no liberal, strongly pro-Israel and aligning largely with the neocon vision of an American that is ready, willing and able to use force and coercion to establish a new world order that is subordinate to US interests.

Like her husband, Nuland, backed by the White House and politicians including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, is consistently hostile to Moscow, possibly because the neocon world view favors the predominantly Jewish oligarchs who looted the Russian economy before being brought to heel by Putin. National Security statists also require a powerful adversary to validate their assumptions about the need to reorganize and lead the world to deal with transnational threats. Nuland predictably refused to congratulate Putin on his most recent electoral victory and she has gone to bat for groups like "Pussy Riot" to embarrass the Russian government.

Nuland was recently intercepted in a telephone conversation with the US Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoff Pyatt. She and the ambassador discussed whom they would support in their drive to rearrange the Ukrainian government, bringing in the UN afterwards to "glue" the deal. Nuland, who has visited the Ukraine several times to speak to the demonstrators and pass out cookies, described the possible European Union (EU) role in such a project disparagingly, using a four letter word which was widely reported in the media. The focus on her language somewhat obscured the far more important content of the call, discussing plans to destabilize the Ukraine while actively working to select one opposition politician as the preferred choice to bring about change in the government.

Victoria Nuland’s call over an unencrypted phone line to discuss highly sensitive matters was, at a minimum, a security violation. She and the Administration subsequently tried to frame it as a Russian setup, calling it "impressive tradecraft," which it was not, but there is no actual evidence that Russia was in any way involved in the intercept, though it did exploit the damaging material that was handed to it on a platter. And the complaint about spying is itself deliciously ironic coming from a government in Washington that has been tapping nearly everyone’s phones with impunity.

Ideologues like Victoria Nuland, who might serve as a poster child for what is wrong with the US government, constitute only one element in the dysfunctional White House view of the world and how to interact with it. Former Senior State Department official James Bruno asks "Why does America send so many stupid, unqualified hacks overseas?" For the first time since the Second World War more than half of all US Ambassadors overseas are political appointees rather than career diplomats, yet another instance of President Barack Obama’s saying one thing while running for office and doing another thing when actually in power. Bruno describes an ambassador to Sweden lying drunk in the snow, the current hotel chain owner nominee for Norway who did not know the country was a constitutional monarchy, and a TV soap opera producer pick for Hungary who had no idea what interests the US might have in the country. One Obama appointee Seattle investor Cynthia Stroum actually was forced to resign after running her embassy in Luxembourg into the ground, verbally abusing her staff and spending embassy funds on personal travel and alcohol.

All of these splendid examples of American officialdom have one thing in common: they gave a lot of money to the Obama campaign. Raising $1.79 million is now the going price for an ambassadorship. Good work Mr. Obama. You promised transparency and have again exceeded all expectations by appointing ambassadors whose lack of qualifications would embarrass the head of state of a banana republic. With Victoria Nuland firmly at the helm of our ship of state in Europe and working to overthrow a friendly government while a group of rich but clueless clowns heads our embassies every American will henceforth know that he or she can sleep safe at night.

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Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former DIA and CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support. Since 1992 he consulted for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients. Mr. Giraldi was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish.


  1. ""The most tragic thing about this entire crisis in the Ukraine is that the otherwise well-meaning West Ukrainian patriots and nationalists are serving as useful idiots for Westerners who would send them to ‘re-education’ camps if they could. The angry young men dishing it out with Ukraine’s security service are the same ‘vile skinheads’ and ‘evil racists’ Western media outlets were crying about for years before the start of Euromaidan. Euromaidan is a fraternal war between West Ukrainians and East Ukrainians i.e. Russians. Although Russia might gain a geopolitical victory through a divided Ukraine, the West Ukrainians will lose no matter what happens. Either as another convict in the prison of nations that is the European Union, guilty of right-wing populism, or as a poorer, more isolated Poland trapped between their historical distrust of Russia and their prescient distrust of Western progressive imperialism."

    A Case Study in U. S. Propaganda


  2. Well said Mr. Giraldi. The 'National Endowment for Democracy' is really a bit of a misnomer. Being that the NED is in actual function an arm of the CIA, it might be time to give it a re-name. How about the 'National Endowment for Retarded Democracy' or NERD. The NED does practice a rather dangerously retarded form of diplomania. As for Nuland, she falls into an entirely separate category of four letter words. Nuland is a "c*#t" and a particularly evil "c*#t" at that. Hmmm, evil is a four letter word. Wow, I made a funny…

  3. Mr. Giraldi stated, ………. “……Washington sees  everything in terms of "us and them" while at the same time exonerating every American misstep by citing the largely bogus national security argument to explain places like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran." Supporting that comment, that is the reference to using the 'national security argument' is a condition that has now spread worldwide. Little Australia. internationally once regarded as having a small degree of independence from feckless US foreign policies, has now become a mirror image of those practices used by the US, referred to in this article. Not just a country that plays cricket, but one that wallows in a confused mixture of Anglo heritage before the boats started coming from all points north, the joy of all things American, wars, bad habits, Free Trade agreements and an unhealthy influence on foreign policy, along with the pariah state of Israel enjoying a special fast-track visa system in place for a level of political influence. Ye, normal Israeli Modus Operandi, all political parties covered.   So it cam as a bit of a surprise that against all things seen as good neighbourly, Australia's faceless men while on one hand being generous to one of the poorest countries in the world, East Timor, just to the north, built a new building under the guise of "aid", but based on the good traditions of the spooks, bugged it at the same time.   Why? It was to be used for discussions on a jointly shared oil and gas field between the two countries. Yes, they were able to listen in to the innermost thoughts of the little East Timor as they discussed their position and stance in negotiations with a country they mistakenly thought was their partner., friend, neighbour. The reason given was' national security'.  In a commercial environment.? Then to add insult to injury, they raided the Canberra office of the Australian lawyer representing East Timor in a case at The Hague. Took papers and who knows what else, all in the name of 'national security'. Still have all of the spoils to my knowledge.   But let's not stop there. Australia also bugged the telephones of the Indonesian President's wife and on-passed the information gained to the US, always willing for a free  handout from a friend to compensate for their loss of credibility from the Edward Snowden leaks. A hero in anyone’s language. Yes, sadly, that is what Australia has become, a friend of the US and all that means. Used to be that Australia was the willing tail on the US attack dog, well since 1945 at least, but now they are friends. Think on Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the other military hegemony dalliances among the 200+ that the US can claim on their scorecard. Good old Aussies always there. Just whistle.   Is there no limit to the ability of governments to use the phrase 'national security' for their own gains.   So  when we see the likes of Nuland and McCain wandering the streets of Kiev, handing out buns and dollars, sharing a cup of non-alcoholic drink with al Qaeda or al Nusra in Syria or anywhere else, you know that there is trouble brewing for that country. As they say, watch this space   So, as with the distribution of drugs where the accepted policy is to "follow the money", we are now best able to determine where America is doing its dirty work. All one has to do is  "follow McCain and Nuland"   The poor regard expressed by Philip in this article of the US diplomatic corps, appointees being primarily political, not based on merit and preferably with a large dose of Jewish blood is noted and also noted by the host countries all around the world   Kagan and Nuland. What a combination. Probably enough evil in that pair to equal any pair in history?

  4. My apology for detouring from the main theme of this interesting article which we have all come to expect from that source, the CNI being such a worthy organisation.   It is something I have raised before in another place to no avail and I am curious as to why no one has proferred an answer. Obama, the man who has been responsible for all those diplomatic appointments, in his infinite wisdom stated that Libya was still a threat to, yes you guessed it, 'national security' and US foreign policy.   Please, anyone, tell me how I have missed this point.   I always thought that NATO (US Military, European Branch) had made Libya a failed state in every way possible.  They do a good job in failed states. Why then are they such a threat accordihg to words from the  mouth of Obama the feeble?   How could I have missed this one?

  5. Mr. Herbst, former US ambassador to Ukraine, on C Span Feb 20 2014 Read between the lines of Herbst’s mendacious protestations — “we only want  for Ukraine to enjoy democracy”, and “Color revolution … color revolution … color revolution.” In response to a caller’s mention of Nuland’s recorded phone conversation wit Pyatt, Herbst lied: he said, “the only thing Nuland talked about was who would be the best person for whichever position. That is all she said.” In fact, Nuland also talked about being in touch with Jeff Feltman at United Nations. Feltman is the Rainbow boy of Color Revolutions. In 2007 testimony before US State Dept. Subcommittee for Religious Freedom, Feltman alluded opaquely but unmistakably to US funding for “NGOs” in Iran. Shortly thereafter, voila, the Green Revolution (fizzled) in Iran. Within days of Tunisia experiencing turmoil, and shortly thereafter Egypt’s Tahrir Square and the “miracle” of “social media,” Hillary Clinton delegated Jeff Feltman to manage the “Arab Spring” in the region. That worked out well. Clinton hired one of the Obama election campaign’s very young social media geeks to interface between State Department and countries in the Middle East. We know — or should know, that Twitter and Facebook etc. are as private as ancient telephone party lines.

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