When US Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, traveled to South Africa on July 29, her reputation as a blunt instrument of Washington’s hegemonic interests preceded her. According to a veteran South African official who attended meetings with the senior US diplomat in Pretoria, however, Nuland and her team were demonstrably unprepared to grapple with recent developments on the African continent — particularly the military coup that removed Niger’s pro-Western government hours before she launched her multi-stop tour of the region. “In over 20 years working with the Americans, I have never seen them so desperate,” the official told The Grayzone, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
It’s been weeks since we looked into the adventures of the Biden administration’s foreign policy cluster, led by Tony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, and Victoria Nuland. How has the trio of war hawks spent the summer? Sullivan, the national security adviser, recently brought an American delegation to the second international peace summit earlier this month at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The summit was led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, who in June announced a merger between his state-backed golf tour and the PGA. Four years earlier MBS was accused of ordering the assassination and dismemberment of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, for perceived disloyalty to the state.
In a little-remarked move, the Biden administration announced Monday that Victoria Nuland will take over as the acting second-in-command at the State Department. She replaces Wendy Sherman, who plans to retire at the end of this week. Nuland’s appointment will be a boon for Russia hawks who want to turn up the heat on the Kremlin. But, for those who favor a negotiated end to the conflict in Ukraine, a promotion for the notoriously “undiplomatic diplomat” will be a bitter pill. A few quick reminders are in order. When Nuland was serving in the Obama administration, she had a now-infamous leaked call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Washington’s ambassador to Beijing referred to China as a “threat” and “great challenge”. He stated arrogantly, “The United States is staying in this region. We’re the leader in this region”, referring to the Indo-Pacific. The ambassador, Nicholas Burns, insisted, “We’re going to hold our own out here. And I feel optimistic – I’m just concluding my first year as ambassador – about the American position in this country [China] and in this region”. In an interview with the US Chamber of Commerce, Burns made very aggressive comments, going so far as to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic, claiming Beijing is not being “honest about what happened three years ago in Wuhan, with the origin of the Covid-19 crisis”.
The US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, arrived in Brazil last week for a “Meeting with Young Entrepreneurs from Brazil” and “High-Level Brazil-United States of America Dialogue”. In an official statement, the visit was called a “diplomatic mission” that aims to bring Brazil closer to US foreign policy. The arrival of the coup specialist in the midst of Bolsonaro’s attacks on the Federal Supreme Court and the Electoral Court (TSE) may also mean that the pressure may be accompanied by promises of American support for Bolsonaro’s current coup intentions, despite public statements suggesting the opposite. For example Nuland has expressed confidence in Brazil’s electoral system. Nuland became known in the recent history of US imperialism for being one of the main organizers of the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine that toppled President-elect Viktor Yanukovych.
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Victoria Nuland for Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the third-highest position at the State Department, is a dangerous sign. Nuland exemplifies the neoconservatives who have led American foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years, all while evading any shred of accountability. As a top-level appointee, Nuland must still be confirmed by the Senate. And while pro-peace groups have waged a campaign to stop her confirmation, reflecting on her career in public service makes clear why she is incompetent, highly dangerous, and should not be confirmed.
Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her because the U.S. corporate media’s foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia. Nor do they know that from 2003-2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland.