Will Obama Treat Victoria Nuland More Leniently than PJ Crowley?

Over three years ago, State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley had to resign after he called Chelsea Manning’s treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

In a bizarre NYT story suggesting that Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan, had influenced Obama with a critique of his foreign policy, it quotes Nuland suggesting she agrees with her husband’s critique.

His wife and unofficial editor, Victoria Nuland, is an assistant secretary of state and one of the country’s toughest and most experienced diplomats, whose fervor for building democracy in Ukraine recently leaked out in an embarrassing audio clip.

[snip]

Ms. Nuland declined to comment on her husband’s critique of her current boss’s foreign policy. “But suffice to say,” she said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

Nuland is not going to comment but she thoroughly agrees with Kagan’s attack on her boss’ foreign policy, I guess.

This dig probably won’t be noted, but it does seem remarkably aggressive, even if Nuland is only slamming Obama’s policies second-hand.

Nevertheless, she won’t pay a price for calling out her boss. That’s true, I’m guessing, because John Kerry seems to love being a NeoCon and he likely has some discretion over her role. And because the NeoCons don’t get held to account in DC for their dangerous provocations.

Still, it appears that it’s a firing offense to call out inhumane treatment inconsistent with our values, but not one for calling out insufficient imperial designs.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. Betty says:

    I’m guessing the article used the phrase “fervor for building democracy in Ukraine” with no sense of irony.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    There is little or no discernible difference between neocons and neolibs.

    Allow me to post something from Dan Kervick, an avowed Northeast progressive, which he posted over five years ago when Obama (immediately after gaining office) showed his true colors:

    “On foreign policy the left has been stiffed, dissed, locked out, humiliated. Millions of people who voted for Obama, and who were particularly responsible for helping him secure the Democratic nomination, got nothing, not even a token appointment. We are zero; a black band on the political spectrum. We don’t count; we don’t matter. George Mitchell seemed mildly promising, not from the left but at least a reasonable man. But he is clearly going to be smothered by a broad agenda that is a continuation of Bush, modified only by the least attractive features of Clintonism.”–Dan Kervick, Jan 29, 2009

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Also there is this comparison of neocon and neolib philosophy I pulled off the web some time ago, but it’s still valid I believe. Compare the PNAC and DLC similar goals:
    PNAC
    • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
    • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
    • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
    • we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
    —————-
    DLC
    * we must marshal all of America’s manifold strengths, starting with our military power but going well beyond it, for the struggle ahead.
    * we must rebuild America’s alliances, because democratic solidarity is one of our greatest strategic assets.
    * we must champion liberal democracy in deed, not just in rhetoric, because a freer world is a safer world.
    *we must renew U.S. leadership in the international economy and rise to the challenge of global competition.
    *we must summon from the American people a new spirit of national unity and shared sacrifice.
    .
    Time has elapsed, some titles may change, but the unity of the governing class, the Nulands and the Kagans, the Obama, Kerry, McCain — on and on, they are constant, the neocons and neolibs.
    .
    The neolibs get their foreign policy impetus from the various NGO’s, both Repub and Dem, which are used to overthrough governments which don’t fully conform to US policy, as in Ukraine. They call it “championing liberal democracy in deed.”

  4. orionATL says:

    manning embarrassed official washington with public diclosure of its hypocrisy, lies, double-dealing.

    victoria kagan’s atempt to influence obama’s foreign policy thru little bobby kagan was done oh so privately, oh so discretely. no public discussion of prez’s rook-takes-bishop-taken-by-pawn blunders in foreign policy. and of course no talk of hypocrisy, lies, double-dealing, or, heaven forbid, incompetence. prez gets to avoid public discussion of his conduct in office, a sina qua non.

    not that the kagan’s criticisms of policies (other than their own “conqueror all – fuc the cost”) are likely to be worthy of consideration. it was the kagans, i believe, who advised little lord pinapple in afghanistan, the remains of which advice lies moldering in the dust of afghanistan.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    And from the NYTimes article, here’s Robert Kaga on Hillary Clinton:

    “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

    Meanwhile Americans’ approval of Congress has dipped to its lowest level ever, five percent, according to a recent poll. For some unknown reason the executive portion of the administration is somewhat more popular.
    .
    PS: I should have wrote “overthrow” instead of “overthrough” in my comment above regarding foreign governments, but upon reflection I think my invented word is more descriptive of the situation.

  6. C says:

    I remember reading somewhere, in the context of economic policy, that the Democrats were “small c conservatives” that is, they don’t really challenge the basic economic structure of capitalism as we practice it but that they seek to smooth out the sharper edges to make it more palatable.

    In most cases this is the same for our foreign policy as well where Obama is really a small ‘c’ neocon.

  7. orionATL says:

    correction:

    delete this sentence from your thoughts:

    ” it was the kagans, i believe, who advised little lord pinapple in afghanistan, the remains of which advice lies moldering in the dust of afghanistan.”

    the perps advising little lord pineapple were frederick and kimberly kagan.

    not to worry. robert and frederick are brothers (and frederick is a war scholar).

    victoria nuland, wife of robert, spent time at the state dept slinging shit as its spokesperson during part of the recent unpleasantness in the middle-east.

    frederick and kimberly lived in afghanistan and advised general pineapple during the recent unpleasantness there.

  8. Bob In Portland says:

    Since JFK was killed in the oil capital of the world, Dallas, the office of President doesn’t really have control of the foreign policy. That’s handled by the professionals in Langley and Foggy Bottom. A President can embrace it and do victory dances, or a President can pursue the policy with a heavy heart. But he doesn’t control it.

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