If anything, Washington’s neoconservatives have an unerring intuition for survival. Having caused multiple disasters within the 20 years since 9/11—from the Iraq Conflict to the dual debacles in Libya and Syria—the neoconservatives appear to have perfected the artwork of failing up.
Harvard University’s Stephen Walt once quipped that “Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry.” And on this regard, the story of the Kagan household is instructive. Robert Kagan, a contributing columnist for the Washington Submit, a senior fellow on the Brookings Establishment, and writer of pseudohistories akin to The Jungle Grows Again, has for years been a leading advocate of American militarism.
His brother, Frederick, is a resident scholar on the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. Writing within the Hill on December 7, Frederick Kagan claimed that Russian control of Ukraine, “would create an existential menace to Poland and even to Romania—one which could possibly be met solely by main deployments of U.S. and European floor and air forces to what might grow to be a brand new Iron Curtain.” He and his spouse, Kimberly, who heads the Institute for the Research of Struggle—one other pro-war Washington assume tank—have been shut advisers to the disgraced Common and former CIA Director David Petraeus. Certainly, each Frederick and his wife are incessantly cited because the brains behind the surge technique pursued by George W. Bush’s administration in 2007-2008.
However probably the most powerful member of the Kagan clan is Victoria Nuland, who is the spouse of Robert and is the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. Beneath Obama, Nuland served as the State Division spokesperson, a position for which she was manifestly overqualified (and that becomes especially clear if one takes the qualifications of the current spokesman into consideration), before assuming the position of the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. It was in this position that Nuland helped orchestrate the overthrow of a democratically elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014 that led to a civil struggle in Ukraine, through which more than 13,000 people have died, in accordance with the United Nations.
A part of the rationale the U.S. is at grave danger of a conflict with Russia—and there's valuable little debate concerning the insurance policies that have brought us so far—is that overseas coverage in Washington is carried out by a nearly closed circle.
And that circle is dominated by individuals like the Kagans.
Washington’s legacy media organizations play their part in perpetuating these overseas insurance policies as properly by functioning as the permanent paperwork’s echo chamber. For proof, look no additional than the Washington Submit editorial page, which from the very begin of the Ukraine crisis has been cavalierly dismissing requires diplomacy and engagement and, as an alternative, has been calling for outright conflict.
An example of this is the Washington Publish view published on their editorial web page on August 21, 2014:
“…it is tempting to look for a cease-fire or some type of day trip that may lead to a period of diplomatic negotiation. However what would a pause and diplomacy accomplish? Any negotiations that depart this blight festering in Ukraine have to be prevented. The only acceptable answer is for Mr. Putin’s aggression to be reversed.”
As Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the Nationwide Curiosity, and I commented on the time, “Virtually as dangerous as the callousness on show is the shortage of candor. At no level did the [Washington] Submit truly explain how it will suggest to go about reversing Putin’s aggression.”
This remains the case even in the present day. At no level do the armchair warriors braying for warfare with Russia over Ukraine talk about how such a “reversal” could be carried out, or, even more tellingly, what the chances is perhaps of a profitable consequence of a conflict between the U.S. and Russia.
Not a lot has changed because the begin of the Ukrainian crisis almost eight years ago. Contemplate for a second the testimony on “Update on U.S.-Russia Policy” by Nuland made before the Senate Overseas Relations Committee (SFRC) on December 7.
Nuland testified that:
“We don’t know whether or not Russian President [Vladimir] Putin has made a decision to attack Ukraine or overthrow its government however we do know he's constructing the capacity to take action. A lot of this comes proper out of Putin’s 2014 playbook but this time, it is on a a lot larger and more lethal scale. So despite our uncertainty about actual intentions and timing, we must prepare for all contingencies, whilst we push Russia to reverse course.”
Nuland went on to notice that the U.S. authorities has given $2.four billion to Ukraine since 2014 “in security assistance,” which included $450 million that was given in 2021 alone.
What, one wonders, has been america’ return on this large funding?
SFRC Chairman Bob Menendez, who, in 2015, was indicted on federal corruption costs, appears to be beneath the impression that Russians would not have the overwhelming army benefit on their own border. Likewise, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) intoned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would “require us [the U.S.] to escalate.”
Senator Todd Younger (R-IN), in the meantime, pressed Nuland on “what measures are being thought-about by the administration to counter Russian aggression,” whereas Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) indicated that in her conversations with members of parliament (MP) from Estonia, they spoke concerning the significance of “European unity with respect to Ukraine.” Additionally, the MPs from Estonia along with Poland and different Japanese European nations expressed anxiousness about “whether or not or to not station more troops in the Baltic nations,” Senator Shaheen stated.
Probably the most astute remark of the day came from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who was clearly proud that the committee had achieved a rare bipartisan settlement for a change. He further emphasized that the U.S. stands “united” in help of Ukraine and towards Russia.
And Johnson was absolutely right: The committee was utterly united in its want for conflict over Ukraine, with whom the U.S. has no treaty obligations in any respect.
Indeed, both Nuland and the SFRC seem to see U.S. national interests the place none exist. Extra worrying nonetheless, they seem to possess a type of blind religion in America’s capability, indeed obligation, to shape outcomes of conflicts which might be happening hundreds of miles from our shores by means of a mixture of sanctions and army threats.
The SFRC hearing confirmed, if nothing else, that American overseas policy is held hostage by a venal, avaricious and, above all, a reckless claque of elites: From the members of the SFRC to the high U.S. authorities officials who testify earlier than them; from the staffers who temporary them to the students and coverage hands-on whom the staffers rely; right right down to the reporters and journalists who uncritically regurgitate what they are informed by their ‘nameless’ administration sources.
As such, one of the crucial urgent questions earlier than us is: How do People of excellent conscience lastly break their stranglehold on power before it’s too late?