April 30, 2015
With regard to the production of geopolitical discourses, the field of critical geopolitics distinguishes between the “intellectuals of statecraft” and the “dissident intellectuals”. The intellectuals of statecraft are those whose activities are directed toward the extending and deepening the power of the status quo, whereas the dissident intellectuals endeavor to demystify and deconstruct the existing networks of power and privilege. The former are the creators of official manipulations and lies, while the latter seek to reveal the hidden truths behind them. While the latter write for BFP on a voluntary basis, the former work for the government agencies for a lot of taxpayers’ money. This article is about one such intellectual of statecraft and the little known aspect of her geopolitical activities.
Victoria Nuland attained global spotlight relatively recently in connection to the Euromaidan events in Ukraine in early 2014. Her expletive regarding the EU travelled around the globe within minutes of the appearance of the leaked telephone conversation between her and the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on Youtube. The very day the conversation became public, I took part in the panel discussion on the geopolitical significance of the events in Ukraine at the Center for Civic Education in Podgorica, Montenegro.
In my presentation, I stated that we would be able to judge as to whether there was any commitment to political accountability and sensible diplomacy in the US State Department by Nuland’s subsequent professional fate. I claimed that if she did not resign after such an outrageous diplomatic scandal, it would mean that the moral decay and corruption, coupled with imperial and aggressive disregard for all differences in approach and opinion, took hold within the State Department and was now beyond repair. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what happened. Nuland held on to her post and her brand of “diplomacy” appears to have become the norm in the US relations with both the allies and the supposed opponents in Europe and beyond.
Even though Nuland became a high-level functionary of the State Department only about a year and a half ago (she was appointed assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in September 2013), she has been active in the US foreign policy establishment for more than two decades. She began her career in the US embassies in Russia and Mongolia and later worked in the US Mission to NATO. From 2000 to 2003, she was the US deputy permanent representative to NATO, and she became the (18th) US permanent representative (ambassador) to NATO from 2005 to 2008. In between the two NATO stints, she advised (who else but) the imperial chief strategist, the US vice president Dick Cheney. Obviously, she has been involved in formulating and implementing the expansionist geopolitical policies of NATO from the late 1990s. In this manner, she contributed a great deal to current political and economic instability on the European continent.
Together with her husband Robert Kagan, a well-known neoconservative author and one of the founders of the imperialist/globalist Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Nuland has been a member of the Washington inner circle of those who think that the US should make the entire planet serve its imperial interests. The government, professional, and academic networks of the Nuland-Kagan couple show that there is basically no distinction between the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the goals of the imperial foreign policy.
In addition, just like some of the most powerful “intellectuals of statecraft” in the recent US history, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright, Nuland has family roots in Eastern Europe (Odessa, Ukraine) and this may in part explain (but cannot justify) her distrustfully aggressive attitude toward Russia, its national interests and foreign policy goals. In fact, considering that the reductionist anti-Russian worldview propelled the careers of both Brzezinski and Albright, the same could be anticipated in the case of Nuland as well. If the US foreign policy continues going down the current, ultimately destructive path, I would not be very surprised to see her appointed as the secretary of state in the next presidential administration.
While Nuland’s geopolitical activities on the rimlands of Russia are well covered by the alternative and anti-imperial media (e.g. distributing monetary aid to the pro-imperial political forces in Ukraine and, more symbolically, cookies to the Maidan protesters), not much has been written about her activities in the Balkans. This article aims to remedy that significant lacuna. In my opinion, the US-NATO extensive involvement in the Balkans is just as important for the success of the overall imperial agenda as the heavily militarized engagement on the borders of Russia and its Central Asian allies.
Nuland in the Balkans
In her capacity as the assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland visited the Balkans for the first time in the mid-July 2014. The general aim of her mission was two-fold. First, to further the imperial goals of strengthening the US-NATO hold over the region, and, secondly, to oppose the historical Russian and the emerging Chinese influences, using all the means at her disposal (from open threats to promises to look the other way while the attacks on free thought and human rights are being perpetrated by the Balkan governments).
Nuland first landed in Croatia and took part in the Croatia Forum in Dubrovnik on July 11, 2014. The Croatia Forum is a decade-old annual gathering of the foreign ministers and other political dignitaries from Europe and beyond involved in the formulation of foreign policy. Considering that Croatia is a member of NATO since 2009, it is not surprising that Nuland called it “a fantastic ally”. However, on the issue of gas and oil industry, Nuland cautioned the Croatian allies to be careful and make “smart decisions”. This was an implicit reference to the talks going on at the time on the possible business deals between the Croatian oil and gas companies and the Russian Gazprom. Also, at the time, the building of the South Stream oil pipeline was still in the cards and Nuland was concerned that Croatia’s involvement in its future operations would lead to its developing tighter and mutually profitable economic links with Russia. As is known, the pipeline was later cancelled after the intense political pressure by the US and EU officials on the Bulgarian government. Obviously, in this respect, Nuland got what she wanted, but this outcome will lead to the imposition of heavy economic costs on the ordinary citizens of the Balkans left without a source of cheap(er) energy.
Even though Nuland did not visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, she did not miss the opportunity to mention it in her Dubrovnik speech by calling for the strengthening of the country’s unity, a code phrase for the revision of the 1995 Dayton Agreements which ended the civil war. She publicly contradicted her “fantastic ally”, the Croatian prime minister Zoran Milanović who, at the same forum only a day earlier, said that the revision of the B-H constitution was “unrealistic”. However, Nuland’s statement points to the existence of a policy disagreement between the “allies”, and therefore we could expect more political and economic instability in B-H in the coming period in order to suit the US imperial “strategy of tension”.
The next stop on the Nuland’s Balkan tour was Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro. Nuland met with all the top corrupt political dignitaries, the prime minister Milo Djukanović, a long-time CIA asset, the “president” Filip Vujanović, illegitimately elected in the rigged elections in April 2013, and the “usual puppets,” the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Igor Lukšić and Milica Pejanović-Djurišić. She vexed ecstatic on the “political progress” in one of the most extensively mafia-controlled countries in the world and of course promised her help to get Montenegro an invitation to NATO membership by the end of 2015. Needless to say, Nuland also praised Djukanović, who has been in power since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and is known to have been involved in the massive war crimes as well as many organized crime operations over the last 25 years.
From Podgorica, Nuland went to Tirana, the capital of Albania where she met with the top level Albanian officials, the prime minister Edi Rama, the president Bujar Nishani, and the speaker of the Parliament Ilir Meta. All three thanked Nuland on the continued US support, while Rama also mentioned the US support for “the Albanian people in the region”. This mention is of extreme relevance as it has to do with the relations between Albania and Kosovo, which have become very close since Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. In some circles, the increasing economic and political integration between the two conjures up the fear of a “Greater Albanian” state, the efforts on behalf of which by certain influential Albanian political elites (both in the region and in the US) could seriously destabilize the Balkans.
In Montenegro and Albania, Nuland also met with the leaders of the parliamentary opposition. These leaders brought up serious charges against both Djukanović and Rama, which were no doubt the source of cynical laughter among the US Embassy officials after the end of the meetings. In both countries, the US puppets are in power, and, no matter how corrupt they get, while they remain puppets, they will get all the support they need to keep holding on.
After Tirana, Nuland’s next stop was Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, which many have called a “NATO state”, considering that Kosovo’s separation from Serbia was heavily supported by the US and its NATO allies. However, it is important to point out that not even all the NATO states have recognized Kosovo, which shows to what extent its recognition by other states (close to 110 at this point) was the result of the US imperial arm-twisting and not based on international law and relevant procedures. Is it surprising then that Nuland was herself lavished with praise from the Kosovo political leaders, including the suspected war criminals, Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaçi? The president of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga thanked Nuland on the US support for Kosovo’s “broad Euro-Atlantic integrations”, which is a code phrase for the close cooperation with NATO military and intelligence networks.
On July 13, 2015, Nuland visited Belgrade and met with the Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić as well as with the foreign minister Ivica Dačić. Nikolić stressed that Serbia wants to have good relations with both “the West and the East”, which is definitely not what Nuland wanted to hear. The US imperial interests demand that the Balkan countries cut off all good and mutually beneficial relations with the East. At the end of the day (unless, in the meantime, there is the End of the World), this will no doubt turn out to be a Quixotic quest on the part of the US, but not before much more economic and political instability is imported into the region as the preferred weapon of imperial control.
In contrast to Nikolić, Dačić, the close ally of the former Serbian authoritarian leader, Slobodan Milošević, was – perhaps due to the past sins in the US eyes – more amenable to Nuland’s rhetoric. He talked about the strengthening and extending the relations with the US on various economic and security issues. Nuland returned the “compliment” and asserted that she was “impressed” with the progress of Serbia and the “ambitious reform plan of the Serbian government”. Is it necessary to point out that the ambition of this plan consists only in further applying the neoliberal austerity measures on the already heavily impoverished population of Serbia?
The last segment of Nuland’s Balkan trip was in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia (FYROM). She met both with the president George Ivanov and the prime minister Nikola Gruevski. Predictably, the topics of discussion included the “Euro-Atlantic” integrations and the implementation of neoliberal economic policies. Not much was mentioned about the prevailing corruption and human rights abuses in the country, but Nuland stressed that more needed to be done by the Macedonian government to alleviate the concerns of the “Albanian regions”. This emphasis should be enough to explain the praise Nuland received both in Albania and Kosovo for the continued US support. No doubt the location of one of the newest and biggest US military bases in Europe (the Camp Bondsteel) in Kosovo, not far the Macedonian border, has something to do with it.
Nuland has not visited the Balkans since July 2014, but there are some indications that she will visit again this summer. However, since her visit, she often met with the Balkan leaders either in Washington, DC or at the margins of various international political gatherings, such as, for instance, the Munich Security Forum. This means that the two-fold Cold War agenda of keeping the US-NATO Empire in, and all the others (including the autonomous populist forces) out, is in the full swing at this time. However, if we take into consideration the political events in Greece since SYRIZA’s coming to power, this agenda has hardly any long-term viability.
 See for instance Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby, and Paul Routledge (eds.). The Geopolitics Reader. New York: Routledge, 1998, especially Tuathail’s “Introduction”, pp. 1-14. This geopolitics reader is incomplete as it does not include the classic and contemporary writings of the Russian (Eurasian) geopolitical school.
Originally published by Sibel Edmonds’ BFP, 29.04.2015.Kovacevic on Geopolitics