Nothing in Nuland’s Life Became Her Like the Leaving of It

Yves here. John Helmer below argues that Victoria Nuland resigned from her Under Secretary of State position because she was pushed, specifically by the Pentagon. Recall she had been in the #2 slot, Acting Deputy Secretary, only through February 12, and was replaced in that role by Asia expert and China hawk Kurt Campbell.

While that is certainly possible, and connected wags will probably start telling all (say in a New Yorker story). there are an awful lot of loose ends. The first is the fiasco of Lloyd Austin going AWOL during and in the aftermath of a cancer surgery puts the top echelon of the Department of Defense under a cloud, which is not an ideal position for waging a turf war. The press release announcing Nuland’s retirement does not at all resemble the tone of one you see when someone is pushed out. And why should she retire if she was pushed? She’s 62. Based on her own credentials, even before getting to the Kagan family pull, she could easily become head of an NGO/think tank or land a tony part-time role in academia.

More generally, the Department of Defense has been following the directives of the President and State, which is how it should be in a nominal democracy. Even though the Biden is clearly fading cognitively, he is likely to exemplify the quip about Irish Alzheimers: the last thing they forget is the grudges. Biden hates Putin viscerally. In one of his first speeches after October 7, he talked far more about Ukraine than Israel, which raised a lot of eyebrows at the time.

Admittedly Blinken is overwhelmed and visibly beaten down by the crisis in Gaza, so it is conceivable that he didn’t have the energy to defend Nuland against attack (from his perspective, better to keep her around to still manage that portfolio and keep her as scapegoat. The wheels will still keep falling off Project Ukraine, and someone will be responsible for actions taken going forward…who wants to be in charge of that garbage barge?). And the Administration may not feel it needs to throw officials under the bus over Ukraine. It can blame the collapse on the failure of the House to send money in time.

As we pointed out, the most visible moves Nuland took as Acting Deputy Secretary looked to be fiascoes. One was her attempt to enlist African states to intervene to reverse the military coup inn Niger. Key figures refused to give her an audience. Her most recent was an emergency trip to Kiev, apparently to sort out General Zaluzhny refusing to comply with Zelensky’s demand that he resign. Scott Ritter pointed out that that was tantamount to a military coup, that it mean civilian leadership was no longer in charge.

Zaluzhny did depart, but as I recall, not closely enough on the heels of the Nuland intervention for her to look responsible. And it is clear Zelensky dissed her to deny her the use of Ukraine official buildings to stage a bizarre speech, (why did she think she even had to give a live statement?), bizarre in it having the visuals of what an obsessive might produce to post on YouTube, and not presentation by a top US official. I keep coming back to this because at the time I saw this a sign that her hold on power was slipping and her judgement as to what to do about that was poor:

Now Nuland may well have been pushed, but as some readers suggested, it seems more likely that this was the doing of Kurt Campbell, the new Deputy Secretary, who wanted an Asia hand in the #3 position. He could have enlisted the Pentagon in that; the new head of the Joint Chiefs, Charles Brown, is also fiercely anti-China.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

As enemies go, Victoria Nuland (lead image), the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, was as threatening for Russia as the Thane of Cawdor was for Scotland and Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play about multiple homicide to capture state power.

Cawdor repented for his treason in the moment before he died on the scaffold. His execution  then allowed Macbeth to take Cawdor’s title and assets for himself, then move on to murder the Scottish king, and replace him until Macbeth was killed himself.

The murdering Nuland has committed was foretold by many more sources than the three witches in Shakespeare’s plot.

But if Nuland has witchly premonitions, she lacks Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking guilt. In Nuland’s case, it is plain that as her murdering has accelerated, she has been gorging herself with food. In the play Lady Macbeth succumbed and then killed herself offstage. Nuland has just left the stage one hundred pounds heavier than when she entered it. Not auspicious, according to the Heart Foundation.

The script of Nuland’s exit is also not Shakespearian in quality. There is not a single Washington journalist or analyst whose job it has been for years to follow the scheming inside the State Department to report what those in a position to know believe is the reason for Nuland’s hasty “resignation”, as it is being called by the Washington Post,  the New York Times,  and the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. His public obituary started with the idea that he had been taken by surprise when Nuland “has let me know that she intends to step down in the coming weeks”; it ended with the immediate naming of Nuland’s replacement,  and her tombstone inscribed with “the lasting mark she’s made on this institution and the world.”

For the haste of her exit; for its timing late the US presidential election campaign and as the Ukrainian military collapses, no one in a position to know believes Nuland’s reasons as they have been leaked by reporters close to her – that her ambition had been offended by her failure to be promoted from Number-3 to Number-2 at State; that her feminism was violated by the non-promotion; and that her Russia warmaking had been subordinated by the higher priority of the White House to fight China.

Nor is her departure a case of avoiding blame for the failure of US policy in the Ukraine and in Europe, as the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Maria Zakharova,  declared yesterday. Nuland is responsible for “the fiasco of American foreign policy”, Zakharova said. “The bet was a huge one. Everything was staked by the liberal Democrats starting with Barack Obama. That bet has now been lost. An absolute fiasco — the rush by V.A. Zelensky begging for at least something more — the White House rejecting his requests — discord everywhere in NATO… No one has a clear idea what to do…A complete fiasco.”

Zakharova didn’t claim that the US and NATO leaders, their military staffs, and political advisors lack clarity on what they don’t want to risk – that’s to continue the war which Nuland has been promoting, and to escalate it with new weapons on the Ukrainian battlefield, and by attacks deep into Russia itself with nuclear-capable missiles like the German Taurus and US F-16s.

If that is what the Russians think is happening and if they are correct – re-read the double negative — then the reason for Nuland’s exit is either that she was forced out, principally by the Joint Chiefs of Staff  before she could do more damage to US military assets in Europe; or that she decided not to be in office when the Articles of Capitulation are signed between Kiev, Lvov, and Moscow.

Unlike Lady Macbeth, Nuland has not gone offstage to expire. The Fat Lady isn’t singing the only song Nuland thinks she can still sing.

In Shakespeare’s version, Macbeth’s plot to kill Cawdor falls short because Duncan, the king of Scotland, announces he is promoting his son to a new title and appoints him as his successor king instead of Macbeth. This leaves Macbeth and his wife no alternative but to murder Duncan before the succession can take place. “In my way it lies,” Macbeth thinks in an aside that is Shakespearian for cover-up. “Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires.”

Read the full play here.  The lead quote appears in Act 1, Scene 4.

The journalist with the longest lasting ambition to promote himself by advancing the self-serving stories of officials who cultivated him, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, has vocally reported Nuland’s claims of murderous plotting and scheming inside the Kremlin.  That was a year ago, on February 23, 2023. Now that the murderous plot is on the other foot, in Washington, Ignatius is dumbstruck.

In Moscow yesterday evening, Vzglyad, the semi-official platform for security and military analysis, issued its assessment of Nuland’s exit and the plot behind it.   The Russian report has been translated verbatim.

One Russian mistake – Nuland has been the third-ranking official at State, not the fourth as reported; she has also been the second-ranking as well as the first in an acting capacity – has been left in the English text.  This mistake aside, a comparison of the Russian analysis with the American one reveals the relative incapacity of US officials and their mouthpieces – and this isn’t to count the effectiveness of the GRU and other Russian services to penetrate, record and understand what Nuland, Ignatius and the rest are planning.

There’s no hiding their “fires” or “black and deep desires.”

Illustrations have been added.

Click to read:

March 5, 2024
Nuland’s successor should scare Zelensky
By  Dmitry Bavyrin

US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is retiring from the civil service. She was responsible for relations with Russia back in the days of the first Yeltsin government, but all-Russia fame came to her after the distribution of “cookies” on the Maidan. There are serious reasons why Nuland chose retirement, even though she was destined for the Secretary of State’s chair. And the President of Ukraine has reason to be apprehensive of the candidacy of her replacement.

Formally, Victoria Nuland was only the fourth [in fact third] in the US diplomatic hierarchy, but in terms of her real influence she is comparable to the Number-1 —  Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose place, according to rumours, she was aiming for. They are close in views, but belonged to different clans, and Nuland loomed over Blinken like a Nemesis: if it was decided to write off all the foreign policy failures of the Biden period and remove Blinken from office, the State Department would certainly go to her.

She is only a year older than Blinken, but as a diplomat she is old enough to be his mother. He is more of an armchair theorist than a practitioner, more of a “hand-me–down” to politicians than a politician, whereas Nuland usually worked “on the front line” – in secure situation rooms around the world, being a career ambassador in both the Russian and American sense of the term.

In Russia, this means that the individual entered the diplomatic service not from the outside (for example, as a political appointee), but through specialized education and climbed the  ladder of the ranks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And in the United States, this is something like the principal title of honour for diplomats – a sign not only of merit, but also of the highest professional qualifications. Since 1956, only six dozen people have received this honorific, and Nuland is one of the most famous on the list.

She was good at her job; had been responsible for important areas for Washington for decades – NATO, Russia, Ukraine;  it was as if she was born someday to become head the State Department, and best of all now, when it is especially fashionable to appoint women. However, President Joe Biden is stubbornly sticking to Blinken, whom he has known for a long time and intimately. He trusts him and he does not want to replace him with stronger and more independent characters like Nuland.

Blinken briefs Biden, October 7, 2023 – White House picture. No comparable picture of Biden with Nuland has been found.

Nevertheless, the Secretary of State must have breathed a sigh of relief when he received Nuland’s resignation letter.

The fact that Blinken himself announced the departure of his likely rival for the succession seems to indicate his desire to cut off her escape route and the opportunity to change her mind. Whether this is true or not, he did not skimp on compliments, calling Nuland “exceptional” and promising her a place in the history books because of the role she has played in the events around Ukraine.

There may also be a place for that in Russian textbooks, only with different emphasis.  Nuland became famous on our side of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic when she distributed cookies to Euromaidan protesters on the eve of the [February 21, 2014 Kiev] coup. And this fame was supported by the fact that she continued to oversee the Ukrainian direction and was Washington’s main negotiator with Moscow on all issues arising from this.

Then Assistant Secretary of State, Nuland handed out cookies in Maidan Square in Kiev, December 11, 2013.

The beginning of the Special Military Operation is her personal failure.  Nuland tried to prevent such a turn of events, but could not maintain the necessary degree of control over the self–willed Ukrainian government. She also allegedly wanted to prevent the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, and also failed. Shortly after that, Nuland ceased to act as Blinken’s Deputy Secretary of State and the Number-2 person in the State Department; she had been formally considered the replacement [for Wendy Sherman]  in this position and lasted six months before Kurt Campbell was appointed; now, a month later, she resigns from her “post number four” [three], that is, definitively.

It is unlikely that this fall is due to failures. There are many failures in Nuland’s career, primarily because she worked in the most difficult areas. It’s much more like escaping from a sinking ship, when the ship is the Joe Biden administration.

It seems unlikely that he will be able to win the presidential election in eight months’ time.  In Nuland’s eyes, he may be altogether non-credible now, since she interacts with “old Joe” personally and is more privy to his medical diagnosis than many others.  And with the return of Donald Trump to the White House, continuation of her work in the State Department is incompatible, despite her experience and seniority.

Although Nuland is strongly associated with the Democratic Party of Obama and Biden, she is a nonpartisan diplomat – a career professional who remains in service regardless of who is  president. Nuland received her first non-bureaucratic position,  but an important public role as U.S. ambassador to NATO under Republican George W. Bush. It is very possible that her husband Robert Kagan, a political theorist, and concurrently a friend and like–minded associate of the entourage of both Bushes, the elder and the younger, contributed to this.

His strong connection with the “neocons” – the most aggressive wing of the Republicans – still holds, although Kagan himself left the party on the arrival of President Trump, cursing him in every way.

Nuland also left the civil service then: maybe because of her husband, or rather because her political credo suited both neocon Republicans and globalist Democrats, but not the isolationist Trumpites. This credo is to maintain the global dominance of the United States at all costs and fight unsubservient regimes with the help of force.

She has publicly stressed that the work of diplomats and the military complement each other. This is true, but coming from a supporter of American expansionism, it sounds blood-curdling —  in the spirit of the eternal “wars for democracy” around Russia and oil.

Trump is more in favour of keeping soldiers at home, and NATO to disband as too expensive. This is primarily why the neocons declared themselves the main opponents of Trump within the party, but lost and were pushed from significant party posts to the sidelines during the Trump revival – this was caused,  not by the fact that the former president is really estimable, but rather by the fact that the incumbent (i.e. Biden) is really execrable.

For their last political ploy, the neocons invested in the presidential campaign of Nikki Haley, but now it is obvious that it would be easier to put Trump in the ground than to raise Haley above him.

Biden is also, to put it mildly, not a fighter, so the opportune time to leave for Nuland is now. Blinken will be with the boss to the end, like a faithful steward. Nuland does not need to transfer her portfolio to the Trumpists who hate her; who will ask unpleasant questions about her, and delve into sensitive details.

Therefore, she will transfer the portfolio to John Bass,   another professional diplomat with similar views, whose track record, however, should make Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky wince. Bass is not a new clinician. More like a pathologist.

He was the ambassador to Afghanistan when the Americans fled, leaving the country to the Taliban. And as ambassador to Georgia when Washington’s protégé Mikheil Saakashvili lost power. And also as ambassador to Turkey, when President Recep Erdogan, resisting an attempted military coup, conducted a large-scale purge of American agents and agents of influence.

Left, Ambassador John Bass with then Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Kabul on June 25, 2019. 

That is to say, the person who inherits all the Ukrainian problems from Nuland is not very fortunate, but he certainly knows how to destroy the evidence and seal the premises. But this is exactly what Nuland and Biden  need in Ukraine – also [Hunter] Biden Jr., whose greed and forgetfulness brought his father under impeachment, and the entire globalist elite which  fanned the conflagration of war in Eastern Europe could not curb it.

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    1. Steve H.

      We are men, my liege.
      Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
      As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
      Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
      All by the name of dogs. The valued file
      Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
      The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
      According to the gift which bounteous nature
      Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
      Particular addition from the bill
      That writes them all alike. And so of men.

  1. Es s Ce tera

    “She is only a year older than Blinken, but as a diplomat she is old enough to be his mother. “

    I think that one line gets to the core of it. According to the dynamics of office you can’t be an effective boss if an underling has more power, political capital, network and experience than you. A large number of toxic bosses are such because of this.

  2. Tom Pfotzer

    I don’t subscribe to this story line.

    I see it thus:

    a. The Ukraine project is a fail, and it’s becoming excruciatingly obvious to all the world that Empire has lost the bet to dismember Russia, and in the process has ruined Europe for many years to come. The world’s perception of the U.S.’ judgement and power is severely compromised by this enormous debacle.

    b. The elite behind the NeoCons (the NeoCons couldn’t do all this damage by themselves) are folding their hand. The last move they had was to attack Russia directly, and that would result in the elites’ own destruction. They have declined to be destroyed.

    c. Nuland, as many have noted, doesn’t have a reverse gear. She and her family and many of the NeoCons have deep psychological commitments, and those commitments were useful so long as Nuland et. al. could be used as attack dogs – as the point of the spear. So now that particular spear-point has become a distinct hazard instead of a benefit to the elite. Nuland, and the strategy and psychology she’s so dreadfully committed to, has to go. The hand is being folded, the bet is lost.

    The next major step in the process is to find a bag-holder for the Kill Russia plan, and then turn the MIC’s attention to finding another shake-down rationale, this time possibly China.

    I have my doubts about the viability of the China shake-down plan. I see that as a much shorter, faster-to-unravel defeat cycle.

    At some point, the fundamental plan of divide-conquer-rule-extract is going to be so obviously and completely ineffectual that the elites will finally begin to reshape the U.S.’ role in world affairs, and base that identity upon something the rest of the world actually wants.

    And that’s going to take some doing. As several posters, in other threads over these past months have pointed out, “I’m not sure they’re up to the task”.

    1. Trees&Trunks

      “a. The Ukraine project is a fail, and it’s becoming excruciatingly obvious to all the world that Empire has lost the bet to dismember Russia, and in the process has ruined Europe for many years to come. The world’s perception of the U.S.’ judgement and power is severely compromised by this enormous debacle.”

      – this is based on the assumption that this war is against Russia and there are military goals in relation to Russia. There are none. The fun part starts now when EU is demilitarized and need/will be forced to by F35s and other military crappaphernalia. That was the goal.

      1. Tom Pfotzer


        I disagree. I maintain that the goal was the control of Russia’s resources, and to prevent China and Russia from cooperating to reduce wealth extraction from China.

        The MIC’s profit-taking is a small part of what was (isn’t any more, but surely was) the bait.

        And there sure were military goals w/r/t Russia. The players use the military to get what they can’t by other means (e.g. econ coercion, or political coups, or financial war-making).

        Russia said “not taking over our country, nyet” and so has China. That’s what all the rage is about: no wealth extraction. Just consider the decades-long massive wealth extraction opportunity that Russia and China offer to the looter-class. It’s gargantuan. MIC profits are a drop in the bucket compared to that bounty.

        All the countries that interfere with wealth extraction get brutalized. Financially, politically and then militarily if the first two don’t work. Iran, N. Korea, China, Russia, Cuba … all the names we’re so familiar with (via political messaging here in the West). That’s the current list of non-compliance perps, and they’re perps because they don’t roll over.

        1. Skip Intro

          Regime changing Russia with the blitzkrieg of sanctions, then capturing their resources for the EU and ‘Democracy’ was probably the pitch the US used to sucker the EU into the project. It is hard to determine to what extent that belief was sincere among all the players, when even an abject failure brings them billions (cf. Iraq, Afghanistan).
          I bet they had a very convincing translation of that scheme into German though!

          1. .Tom

            Germany had been getting closer and closer to Russia for years. Strategic trade relations at that scale have to be accompanied by all the rest (capital projects, security, etc). The USA sought to turn Germany around from going farther down that road and return her to the strong embrace of the USA. Allowing Germany to move even farther into Russia’s sphere either away from both the USA and the EU or, even worse, away from the USA while bringing the EU along was not acceptable.

            This, I believe, was a, likely the, primary strategic concern of the USA. And if we look how things stand and how they are likely to develop over the next years, I think the USA has what it wanted. The military defeat is humiliating, European economies are hurt, and Nato and EU unity is looking fragile, but the USA has succeeded in driving a wadge between Europe, especially Germany, and Russia.

          2. digi_owl

            The impression i get is that the only intel USA had from inside Russia was from the English speaking PMC-adjacent and west leaning tech industry.

            And all of those had deluded themselves into thinking Putin would topple at the smallest hint of hardship. But once Ukraine went hot, and Putin stood firm, they all scurried across the borders like exposed roaches.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          I agree with your a-c above, and if Helmer’s last paragraph is correct, it would explain quite a bit –

          “That is to say, the person who inherits all the Ukrainian problems from Nuland is not very fortunate, but he certainly knows how to destroy the evidence and seal the premises.”

          I’m not familiar with Bass, but Helmer makes him sound like one of those DC “fixers” a la Bill Barr, brought in to make sure bodies stay buried.

          The West must know there is no winning in Ukraine without a massive escalation that would, when Russia retaliates, result in the destruction of many elite rice bowls, and possibly the elites themselves. They need to put a bow on project Ukraine, declare victory (just look at the fabulous rump the West has preserved! – Russia could have had it all were it not for the US), and make sure nobody sifts through the rubble to closely.

          If I had to guess on why Biden is still in the presidential race, it sure as hell isn’t because the Democrat party believes he is the best candidate. It is either because his ego combined with his declining mental faculties have convinced him the country needs his leadership and only he can beat Trump and nobody else dares to tell the emperor his schlong is waving in the wind, or he and those with their hands up his rear end realize that if Russia ousts Zelensky and/or Trump wins the presidency, all of the rampant corruption engaged in by the Biden crime family in Ukraine, starting with when he became Ukrainian suzerain in 2014 and continuing to the present, will come to light more so than it already has, putting them in some serious legal jeopardy. I’d say the latter is far more likely.

          So because Nuland just can’t stop “winning”, she gets the boot in favor of a fixer who will wind things down. Bass cuts a deal with Russia where the West stops shipping arms, new elections are held in Ukraine to replace Zelensky, and Russia promises to burn (figuratively if not literally) all the evidence pertaining to the Biden crime syndicate. That might be an acceptable deal, since Russia seems to have a lot more concern for saving Russian and Ukrainian lives than the West does. Then Biden quits the campaign and the Democrat party tries to find someone who can fake sincerity enough to beat Trump.

          The problem with that scenario is that if I were Russia, I wouldn’t trust the West to hold up their end of the bargain any farther than I could throw Cookies Nudelman.

          1. digi_owl

            Given that MSM was selling the idea that this was some red army resurgent that would march to the Atlantic if not halted in Ukraine, claiming a NATO/western victory will be easy even if in practice Russia achieves it’s stated goals.

        3. Trees&Trunks

          You are right. There were also goals for the subjugation of Russia. Muchael Hudson has made the point very convincingly that this war had been more towards EU than Russia. The EU losses from sanctions are immense. US lost almost nothing on the sanctions. They even contninued to buy key stuff that EU bought through 3rd party at a premium. The culmination was the US terrorist attack on NS2 – the strategic opportunity that Blinken was talking about. I can’t find the article but even the American Conservative or the National Interest wrote about the Tonya Harding strategy of the USA. EU and China have the brains and production capacity to beat US and therefore needed to be knee-capped.

          In any regime, there are diverging plans so I believe that there were many interests coinciding on this sandwich and do not think an analysis without tje US war on EU is complete. The same goes for the theft of Russian natural resources.

          Moreover, if you read the latest speech of Putin he sounds like an old school Social Democrat. The talking points were out there already in 2018. The importance being that the appeal of the society and the economies of scale of the Soviet Union scared the pants of the Western oligarchs. They decided to allow the welfare state to exists. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was very much Schluss mit Lustig. I am convinced there is this ideological part also to the demonization of Putin and the war.

          1. digi_owl

            Also, if Russia acts as a bridge the Eurasian combined market can’t be interdicted at Suez, Malacca or Panama.

      2. .Tom

        The USA clearly had strategic goals in relation to Russia (political, defense, financial, trade and security relations with 3rd nations e.g. China, India, …). The USA/Nato/UA military operation against Russia was/is in support of that strategy. Other simultaneous operations were conducted outside the military domain: sanctions, infra sabotage, freezing foreign reserve accounts, punishments for uncooperative 3rd nations and so on. It miscalculated and, as Tom Pfotzer put it, lost the bet.

        Understanding American Empire as no more than a downstream consequence of the unfortunate corruption of its democracy by the MIC is a liberal sop.

    2. Gregorio

      Their China project will fall apart about as fast as the shelves empty out at Walmart.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        When Xi visited San Francisco last year, he was given a _standing ovation_ by the big-wig capitalists (especially from Wall Street) here in the U.S.

        Those people are beside themselves with the specter of losing their entre into the Chinese market, and by inference, into the burgeoning Asian market.

        That’s their (our capitalist class) last on-ramp to Asia for many a decade. They blow this one, they’re going to have to be content with meager profits of rebuilding what’s left of U.S. economic competitiveness (“industrial capitalism” .vs. mass-looting “financial capitalism”), and extraction from Canada and the rest of the Americas (poor folks; they’re next in the cross-hairs).

        And that’ll be nothing like what’s on offer in Asia and Russia.

      2. TimD

        Yes, empty shelves at Walmart, higher inflation and more trouble finding buyers for American debt. China has been the largest economy in the world, based on PPP, since 2020 and sparring with China will hurt the US in its pocketbook.

    3. Richard

      Agree, but for a different reason.

      I think this is most a simple case of “up or out.”

      Nuland took a temporary promotion, undoubtedly with the promise that she would be appointed permanently. When the WH discovered that she could not be confirmed, another was appointed, and Nuland was dropped back into her old position (which she was simultaneously filling anyway while she waited for things to sort themselves out). She chose to leave instead.

      Not an uncommon reaction to disappointment, in my experience.

  3. The Rev Kev

    This is all probably the war party shuffling out the players as it suits them. Alex Christoforou, in his last video drop, pointed out that Victoria Nuland is a protege of Dick Cheney aka the Dark Lord. But that John Bass also happens to have been a protege of Dick Cheney so there is a form of continuity here. In his bio I see no mention of any service in Asia so by this time next year he may find himself sidelined.

    1. GF

      Putting on my tin foil hat here. Nuland was pushed out because she blurted out the existence of 12 USA secret military bases along the Russian border. Simplicus the Thinker mentioned, without proof, a couple of days ago that one of the bases had been destroyed by Russia killing all/most/many the Americans. A day or so later Nuland resigned. Taking off tine foil hat.

  4. GramSci

    I think it was Rev Kev who nailed it yesterday: Vickie’s repositioning herself into the Trump administration, her recent Youtube performance an act of ‘cinema verite’ that Trumpers will buy hook, line, and sinker. Well played, Lady Macbeth!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not I but another reader. First time round Trump let in all sorts of maniacs into his admin – people like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. Having been burned so badly by these people, he may be more cautious this time around and that might include Nuland.

    2. Rip Van Winkle

      Seen on an unmentionable blug this morning- “…an FOID has been filed for her implication in lira’s torture and death in Ukraine.”

      1. Feral Finster

        “an FOID has been filed for her implication in lira’s torture and death in Ukraine.””

        A FOIA? If that is what you are referring to, there is a “muh national security!” exemption for FOIA.

    3. digi_owl

      Unlikely, as she has been attached in some capacity to every administration since Billy. Except for the four years of Trump where she instead went after POTUS for all she was worth.

  5. john r fiore

    Nulands first position was as an “official” in the Mongolian embassy…anyway she epitomizes the incompetence at all levels of our present government….a woman with zero military experience, providing military advice to other countries…hence, the country lurches from one expensive disaster to another….throwing vast sums of taxpayer loot to be laundered by crooks at the other end.

    1. Neutrino

      Is it too late for Cookies to come under enemy fire while on final approach to Hell some random airport? That worked so well for Killary. /s

  6. timbers

    Anyone read Doctorow? He suggests Nuland was forced out on the basis of working with the rogue German Generals ignoring their Civilian superiors instructions not to long range missile attack Russia. As her hands may have been all over this scheme, she has been fired because Washington does not want to risk a direct Russian attack on them or Germany.

    “The next major step in the process is to find a bag-holder for the Kill Russia plan…” Yes and sadly they missed an opportunity to replace Nuland’s position with Hillary Clinton. In my dreams.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Happened too soon after the event.

        Top level employees who are forced to resign negotiate their exit. They lawyer up too so forms are observed.

        At a minimum what the employer says about the former employee is agreed. This process does not happen overnight.

        The Blinken statement about her does not read as negotiated. He would not slobber praise. Also there was a formatting error in the print version (incorrectly placed line break) which speaks of haste.

        Ritter (who did not notice that she RETIRED, which = no new full time gig) posited she was either pushed or she was being overruled on policy and quit over the latter. He did say she was a woman of principle (even if they are terrible).

        1. .Tom

          Like Tom Pfotzer said above, Nuland is an attack dog, a tool that has only one mode of operation which you either use or you don’t.

        2. fjallstrom

          I know that the henchmen of the empire usually lives way longer then their victims, but couldn’t she simply be ill in a way that makes it highly unlikely to return to the job market?

          Would to me explain “retired”, but perhaps there are pieces that doesn’t fit that either.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You’d think she’d say she was retiring for the usual personal reasons if so. But even if she has a condition, she may not want it disclosed. But not impossible .

        3. David in Friday Harbor

          As a retired career bureaucrat, I must agree that the swiftness of Blinken’s statement reads as, “I call your bluff; Resignation accepted; Don’t let the door-slam hit you on your way out!” Blinken is an amateur diplomat, and his glee at removing a career neocon threat to his fragile self-esteem is palpable — as Bavyrin points out in his Vzglyad analysis thoughtfully translated by Helmer.

          However, I believe that Helmer and Bavyrin would agree with Gilbert Doctorow’s assertion (repeated this morning) that Nuland’s departure is related to her plotting with the Bundeswehr to lob a Taurus cruise missile at the Kerch Bridge. Nuland has always taken a maximalist stance against Russia and has been forever reported as plotting to arm her “Ukrainian” pals with ever more lethal missiles.

          I suspect that Blinken, who despite being a committed Russophobe has always focused on killing Arabs on behalf of the Zionists, had finally had enough of Nuland’s neocon bullying. Nuland and the neocons successfully blocked the Russian strategy of forcing a negotiated settlement preserving the 1991 borders outside Crimea/Sebastopol, but this forced the Russians to hold territory in the east and to grind-down the AFU. The fall of “Fortress Avdeevka” was a turning point and Nuland evidently desired a major escalation.

          I don’t doubt that someone inside the Bundeswehr was the source of the tape revealing the lunacy of the Luftwaffe firing a Taurus at Crimea from “Ukrainian” airspace. The German general staff is still peppered with realists like Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, who resigned in 2022 after making statements that Russia and its president deserved “respect” from the West and that Crimea would “never come back.”

          Good for them. World War 3 has hopefully been averted. Now we simply have to wait for China to introduce sanctions over Palestine that will empty the shelves of every Walmart in America…

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            David: While I agree some of your (key) points, such as the leak re: Taurus may well have originated within Germany….

            I wonder: how much daylight do you see – re: actions taken over the course of the last decade – between Blinken and Nuland?

            I can’t think of one instance wherein I heard a sniff of disagreement between the two of them, and they were doing some major policy implementation.

            1. David in Friday Harbor

              There has been no daylight between them on policy — until the dangerous escalation of plotting for the Luftwaffe to fire a Taurus cruise missile at the Kerch Bridge. If I understand the Taurus correctly, this would require a NATO/Luftwaffe aircraft and pilot to be over “Ukrainian” airspace.

              The Russian government has made it clear that firing a NATO-controlled missile at Russian territory would result in swift retaliation against the perpetrators, specifically at the MBDA-Deutschland Taurus production facilities at Ulm and Schrobenhausen in Germany.

              Such an escalation would be a fatal distraction from Blinken’s career focus on killing Arabs, just as what the U.S. Ambassador to the UN has literally described as “the final solution” to the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland is unfolding.

              We all read the same sources, but in my personal experience of government bureaucracy, this created sufficient daylight between the insecure Blinken, who entered the foreign policy world through daddy Don’s Warburg-Pinkus checkbook, and the bullying neocon career diplomat Nuland for a swift break-up.

              1. .Tom

                You think that by getting rid of Nuland like this Blinken demonstrates what an awesome handbrake U-turn he can do?

                Actually I like this image since the best such turns in movies also involve deftly ejecting something from the car in the middle of the turn.

                1. David in Friday Harbor

                  I don’t see Blinken making any U-turns. Rather, I suspect that Nuland was insubordinately plotting behind Blinken’s back to use NATO/Luftwaffe delivery systems for attacks on Russian infrastructure, which could have upset the Israel apple-cart. She got caught red handed and symbolically tendered her resignation. It was accepted.

                  If you parse-out Blinken’s statement you’ll see that it drips with sarcasm:

                  …indispensable to confronting Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine” [As in holding Nuland responsible for provoking the escalation from support of local militias to Russian boots on the ground] “…marshaling a global coalition to ensure his strategic failure” [As in holding Nuland responsible for the failure of the Istanbul agreement that would have kept “Ukraine” intact except for Crimea] “…helping Ukraine work toward the day when it will be able to stand strongly on its own two feet” [As in holding Nuland responsible for the NATO/Luftwaffe plot to launch and target the missiles for them which could have instigated World War 3]

                  Neither are very nice people but they’re “not nice” in different ways — which led to this bureaucratic denouement.

    1. ArvidMartensen

      I wonder. There is a rich tradition of politicians especially, resigning fairly suddenly because they find out that somebody has the goods on them and is about to go public.

      By resigning the politician nullifies the value of whatever info the leaker has. The potential leaker backs off because it’s no longer worth doing, and so that the politician gets to take another job, reputation intact.

      Happened at high office where I am a couple of years ago. And some of the scandal has come out in subsequent court cases (infidelity, illegal grants) but nobody cares any more.

      So it will be interesting to see what if anything comes out about Nuland in the next few years. Maybe this is about German plotting, and maybe something else as well. Only time will tell.

  7. voislav

    I tend to agree with Yves, this seems to be more of a personnel shuffle to remove the Ukraine distraction from the agenda rather than a signal of change in policy. Even before this we’ve seen that US was a the end of its willingness to support Ukraine, there were numerous indications that the $60 billion support package was to be the last. We also know that Pentagon was opposed to sending substantial US arms and equipment to Ukraine, and was largely successful in preventing that.

    This was probably accelerated by the Palestinian conflict, which pulled the remaining resources into supporting Israelis and away from Ukraine. Nuland’s failure in Africa likely played into this, it showed that, outside of Eastern Europe, she has very limited influence and is not capable of adapting. So as the US focus moves away from Ukraine to Asia (by choice) and Middle East (by necessity), Nuland became surplus. She has limited utility outside Eastern Europe, but is also someone who is not likely to easily let go of “her” project and would have been a distraction internally.

  8. Victor Sciamarelli

    I enjoyed Helmer’s post and largely agree, however, one point of disagreement is on “the isolationist Trumpites.”
    Trump, imho, represents a version of unilateralism. Trump will once again be an imperial president, only his idea of hegemony is to go it alone if necessary.
    The US, for example, can protect itself without NATO. And if Europe needs NATO protection, then they can pay for it too; otherwise, good by NATO.
    Trump doesn’t seem to think we need the facade of international allies, the international community, or international institutions. He will engage with the world, as long as the world sees itself as subcontractors for the US empire.

    1. Paul Art

      True. Trump’s “isolationism” is purely mercenary. If there was a foreign policy “AIPAC”, he would be in there with both hands and feet. He has already broken his silence on Gaza and said that Israel should be given time to “finish” its job. The man is transactional through and through.

    2. Benny Profane

      Trump, if he gets elected, will be dealing with a much different international situation than it was during his term, and Ukraine and Israel/Palestine are why. Brics nations, and, well, the world now see that the emperer has no clothes, and are now gelling into a new historical coalition with a big middle finger to the past. Our political system is in chaos, our trillion a year military is ineffective in modern warfare against peers, NATO is now an unarmed joke, and we essentially allowed Russia to become the largest and best armed military in the world while exposing to the world that sanctions just don’t work. Furgetabout Palestine, I mean, how in the world can anybody talk democracy and freedom for decades after what we’re sponsoring there. I hope Trump understands this, and hires some people that also understand, but, I’m skeptical. Hopefully he’s as anti war as in his first term, and doesn’t send a naval fleet and thousands of men to be destroyed on the other side of the world by China and allies.

  9. Paul Art

    I despise Nuland but was troubled by references to “100 pounds heavier” and “fat lady”. Menopause does strange things to women’s bodies and we should not mock Nuland for this while she has so many other shining achievements to be trashed for.

    1. Big River Bandido

      In most cases I’d agree with you, but not here. Weight gain was too fast, too recent, and appears connected with this particular assignment. I was shocked watching the video of her in Kiev.

      As for the “mocking” of her weight: on the one hand, we have fat-shaming comments. On the other, we have one of the most depraved, genocidal, and powerful maniacs in the world. These two “offenses” are nowhere near equivalent; even raising “fat shaming” sounds ridiculous in this context.

    2. Val

      If you’re troubled

      Build a bigger catapult and you can ride with the fat satanic projectile.

  10. Benny Profane

    “Irish Alzheimers: the last thing they forget is the grudges.”

    Ha, that’s great. I would message that to my old Irish cop uncle, but, he’s been gone for awhile, and never liked me.

  11. ciroc

    She has left a great legacy to Ukraine. Kyiv’s Pyotr Tchaikovsky Street was voted by the Kyiv City Council to be renamed Victoria Nuland Street. (I think Sesame Street would be more appropriate).

  12. elissa3

    Yeah, the Kiev nighttime “speech”. The single yellow car in the background, the twitching left hand. In a tight shot, without the micros, it gives one the impression of a homeless woman, albeit well-fed, looking for an audience. I most sincerely hope that this view is the one people will think of when recalling her horrific legacy.

  13. Waking Up

    Yves Final Paragraph:

    Now Nuland may well have been pushed, but as some readers suggested, it seems more likely that this was the doing of Kurt Sullivan, the new Deputy Secretary,

    That should be Kurt Campbell.

  14. MT_Wild

    I’m hoping her exit is just the sign of something far more simple, fitting and final.

    Hopefully some sort of untreatable cancer.

    And she wants to take a break from being a pox on humanity so she can crawl off into a hole and die.

  15. Paul Art

    Great! This just in:

    Ambassador Victoria Nuland, a US diplomat for more than three decades who served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs for the last three years, and as Acting Deputy Secretary of State from July 2023 to February 2024, will join SIPA as the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor in the Practice of International Diplomacy effective July 1.

    First it was Hillary and now Nuland. Amazing. Columbia University is racing ahead in the Ivy League contest to become the Neocon Lunatic Asylum and Hatchery. You can picture the West Coast loonies in Stanford wringing their hands and saying “how did we ever lose her!!!!”

    1. Benny Profane

      And the governor has the national guard and troopers stationed underground a quick subway ride away to put down any sort of protests on or near the campus, with the mayor’s blessing. But no students will protest, they got a taste of career ending retribution before they even started a career when they stood up and said, hey, wait a minute, isn’t all that genocide?

    2. Feral Finster

      That she took on her new role two days after her retirement indicates to me that she likely wasn’t pushed.

      1. Benny Profane

        Man, you would think she’d want to hit a beach for a little while and conduct a bidding war on her laptop with an umbrella drink on the table.

  16. Revenant

    Twitter has some speculation that she has left, as they all do, because of “financial irregularities “. Specifically, the GeromanAT account, retweeted by Squatsons (Kalibrated podcast):

    “– GEROMAN — time will tell – 👀 —
    Mar 5
    The resignation of Cookie Nuland is primarily due to the upcoming investigation by the FBI and the Office of Special Operations. investigations of the US Department of Justice, where 10.5 billion dollars were spent on Maidan in Ukraine (the public was told about 5 billion), as well as where 120 billion dollars were spent on open items and almost the same amount on secret items of the budget of the CIA and the Pentagon with 2018.

    The fourth command inspection from the United States in six months in Kyiv is still working. The results of the work and reporting are strictly classified. They are transferred immediately to the Secretary of State under the supervision of the FBI.
    The fun is just beginning.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time that the way to grok the terriers fighting under the hearthrug is “follow the money”…..

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is the most credible speculation I have heard as to why she might have been pushed, as opposed to resigned over missing a promotion or being fundamentally at odds with changing policies.

      And she might have thought this much money going missing (as in to pet recipients….or black ops?)was no biggie compared to what went on in Iraq….under her boss Dick Cheney:

      $12 billion in cash flown to Iraq on pallets, supposedly to help with liquidity, $9 billion of which disappeared:

      The massive contractor looting, with the DoJ effectively defending it by fighting qui tam suits by Alan Grayson, an expert in that sort of thing. Halliburton was one of the main beneficiaries:

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        Hmm. Yves, can you name any other government officials from Dept of Defense, or Dept of State that were even reprimanded let alone fired for graft?

        I’m sure there are some, but it’s not coming to mind.

        Eeeevvvveryone’s in on the scam. That’s why these things happen so frequently, it’s gotta be cocktail-party smirk-fodder for these people.

      2. Revenant

        Indeed, America bought victory against the secular Baathist Iraqi Army but could not persuade the jihadis to take a bribe in the Occupation….

        Apparently the Ukrainians can be bought but not the post-Yeltsin Russians either (excepting Prigozhin, but mercenaries go to the highest bidder).

        There’s also the memory-holed issue of the bio-labs that the Russians overran in the Ukraine. Clearly many billions from many budgets, from USG and via NGO cut-outs, explicit and disguised and black, have been swilling around the Ukraine for years, with a blind eye to accountability. It may be that running a family think tank involves not looking too closely at the donors and that’s being generous.

        On a related note, it is entirely possible that Dear Hunter was not in the pay of a foreign country because it was your own money…. Now that would be a defence! :-)

  17. Pym of Nantucket

    Wow, that is quite a plate of spaghetti. I guess the tangled and intertwined priorities of the forces at play are to be expected when so much is at stake. I don’t think making fun of her looks adds impact to the writing though.

  18. dirke

    From my observations of working/consulting in big corporations, note the following;
    ” It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you place the blame.”
    They (Neocons et all) have to a fall person. In the case of Ukraine, it’s Nuland.
    This also applies. “If you can’t solve the problem, then fire somebody, anyone will do.”
    The best way not admitting defeat or failure is to do a “Re-organization” of the company. Then the problem just disappears via of nomenclature.
    All this applies to government.
    One final observation, “You can never over estimate the stupidity of management or government.”

  19. Matthew G. Saroff

    One possibility, however remote, but supported by her physical appearance in Kyiv, is that she is actually ill.

    I am not a doctor, but her puffy appearance there appears a lot like the side effects of corticosteroids in relatively high doses.

    1. nigel rooney

      Yes, I’m wondering how many times she’s had Covid….apart form anything else.

  20. notabanker

    For me, the biggest downside to TDS is that Biden largely gets a free ride for being the absolute worst President in the history of the US. Anything this admin touches results in an absolute disaster and it is all largely the result of cronyism by default because the guy who is supposed to be in charge is senile and incapable of anything resembling leadership, amoral or otherwise.

    I highly doubt any President in these times can turn this country around, but Biden has a brick on the accelerator and has set back this country decades.

  21. HH

    The neocon house has fallen. The PTB have decided to memory hole project Ukraine, and the process has begun by making Nuland an unperson. The “competition” with China will presumably be managed with more attention to arithmetic and less faith in the triumph of the will. American exceptionalism will slowly become less dangerous to the world, and America, like Britain, will end up just a legend in its own mind.

    1. Revenant

      Hmm. That process took two world wars and it still wasn’t finished by the time Dean Acheson said that Britain had lost an Empire and had yet to find a purpose. I am not sure I like the journey you are proposing!

  22. Jamie

    Movie Plot scenario:
    Biden Family Inc. doing damage control. She’s become unhinged. As someone else mentioned, Nuland might have a tell-tale Moon Face from Prednisone. Other side effects. Rapid weight gain and serious mood swings. Involved in blackmail schemes, with her increasingly delusional plans and big mouth?

    Tip of ice berg….Hunter and Barisma (OIL exploration) etc . TV comedian put in charge to utterly destroy Ukraine and launder BILLIONS back to you know who.

    Rumors of WEF (looking at you, Volodymyr) to rebuild the corpse of Ukraine. Usher in 100% digital nation, ID, EFT bitcoin, CBDC blah, blah.

    Ukraine discovered/cataloged a historic library of medical macrophages. World class medicine (replacing ineffective antibiotics). Gold mine for Pharma.

    Russia/Ukraine could be sitting on an unimaginable pool of abiogenic oil. Big FAT boondoggle.

    She was PAID OFF, and replaced with another equally rabid, pile of doo doo neocon. Simply put? Muzzled. Or else.

    Bottomless pit of corruption might mean Biden goes to his grave in office (re-elected, at all cost). Or confined to a wheelchair, drooling to avoid Republican prosecution.

    Roll credits.

  23. steppenwolf fetchit

    Your title aroused such hopes . . . “nothing became her life like the leaving of it” I was hoping she had suddenly died and I just hadn’t heard of it yet.

    I have an epitaph ready-to-go for when she finally dies. ” The tragedy is not in her having died, the tragedy is in her ever having lived.”

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