Shakespeare, Ukraine and the Smoking Gun

smoking gun and a Shakespeare quote from Troilus and Cressida, “I will no more trust him when he leers, than I will a serpent when he hisses.” I will no more trust him when he leers,
than I will a serpent when he hisses.”

(Troilus and Cressida, act 5, sc. 1)

The expression “smoking gun”, as we know, is intended to represent incontrovertible evidence of a crime, or of a generic act of lawlessness. The term is derived from Conan Doyle’s story “The Gloria Scott”, where, to be pedantic about it, to smoke was a pistol, rather than a gun. But I digress.

Here the topic smoking gun is the hacked telephone conversation between assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. On the other hand, the metaphorical smoke confirms what we already know, the massive implication of the US in the Ukranian turmoil. Plus the degree of contempt of the US diplomat for the so-called European Allies – who, in turn, are currently reduced to the rank of lapdogs.

Here is an extract from the transcript. I will add the link to the actual conversation at the end of this article.

Ambassador. I think we’re in play. (that’s a remarkable understatement, as the play means a coup d’etat and dictating what the next Ukranian government will be). The Klitschko [boxer and opposition leader] piece is obviously the complicated electron here  (an original image the interpretation of which must be left to imagination of the reader). Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister and you’ve seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we’re trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you’ll need to make, I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader – note the familiarity implied by the nick-name, which demonstrates or enhances the lapdog image]. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.

Nuland: Good. I don’t think Klitsch (another nickname, another lapdog)  should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Anti-government protesters have been camped out in Kiev since November.

Ambassador: Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other opposition leader] and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what President Viktor Yanukovych is calculating on all this. (Apparently the President Yanukovych is not as yet a lapdog, lacking a nickname of his own).

Nuland: … I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yats, it’s just not going to work. (note the precision of the prescription, “four times a week”.)

Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?

Nuland: My understanding from that call – but you tell me – was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a… three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it? (that is, the US Ambassador directly involved to decide who will be in the government of Ukraine).

Pyatt: No. I think… I mean that’s what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that’s been with them where Klitsch has been the top dog (a piece of inadvertent sincerity), he’s going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they’ve got and he’s probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn’t like it. (the strategy here is for Nuland to flatter Klitsch so that he will do the US bidding. “Personality management” for “flattery” is a new Orwellian expression that deserves just recognition).

Nuland: OK, good. I’m happy. Why don’t you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.

Pyatt: OK, will do. Thanks.

Nuland: OK… one more wrinkle for you Geoff. I can’t remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?

Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.

Nuland: OK. He’s now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.

Overlooking the elegant expletive, the context must be supplied. Apparently the European Union (or a representative thereof) had expressed concern about sanctions against Ukraine or other similar aggressive postures. Never mind that the official US line is that “it is up to the Ukrainian people to decide their future”. This snippet of a dialog speaks volumes of the respect that the current Administration has for its European lapdogs and for the policy of “non interference”.

Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I’m still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that. In the meantime there’s a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I’m sure there’s a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. (talk about not interfering in other countries’ governments)

So let me work on Klitsch and if you can just keep… we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. (there is originality here, “midwife this thing” as a euphemism for “regime change”.) The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.

Nuland: So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note to Jake Sullivan (US vice-president’s national security adviser), Jake Sullivan’s come back direct to me, saying you need Biden (US Vice-President) and I said probably tomorrow for an atta-boy (a congratulatory and flattering message to Biden) and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden’s willing. (read: Biden to travel to Ukraine to consecrate the regime change).

Pyatt: OK. Great. Thanks.

End of transcript.

There is a sense of satisfaction shared by these two characters. The billions spent to effect a “regime change” were well invested. I do not remember the direct source, but I heard mentioned the number of 5 billion $. Whether it is 5 billions or less or more there is a lesson to be drawn. The Administration has just reduced by $8 billions the food stamps allocation for the needy. But there are billions available for regime changes, funds undisputed by Congress.

Usually declarations made by the political-military establishment cannot be believed until denied. However, in the instance, the message and the voices too clearly belong to the characters in question. The White House spokesman had to bite the proverbial bullet and report to the corporate media lapdogs that the Administration “did not deny” that the telephone conversation took place.

An unnecessary precaution, I think. The official media hardly covered the matter. Unofficially, the rumor was circulated that Russia leaked the conversation. And that the Administration felt that the leak had debased the value of diplomacy (or words to that effect). If so, I am sure that there are many who welcome such “debasements”. And after Snowden’s revelations about universal spying, the Administration’s purported complaint exceeds the bounds of the ridiculous.

Nuland embodies the spirit, the mode of thought and action of US foreign policy, stretching from the crimes of the Bush administration to their extensions under Obama. She was chief foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney (!) when, as vice-president, he was promoting and carrying out aggressive wars, rendition and torture abroad, while creating the infrastructure of a police state at home.

Her husband is Robert Kagan, the right-wing foreign policy pundit who served as the founding chairman of the Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative Washington think-tank that played a key role in the political and ideological preparation for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. The “Project” that many suspect was the spring of the 9/11 episodes.

Today this assembly of molecules in the shape of a woman promotes similar policies on the borders of nuclear-armed Russia and who knows where else.

As for the expostulation against the temporarily uncooperative “Europeans”, perhaps Nuland will learn in time to purchase by civility the regard which she expects to enforce by insolence.

On the other hand, she is a creature of Cheney, a particularly diabolical figure in the annals of the White House. He habitually “ff…ed” anyone who raised even mild objections to whatever point he made. And he was even captured in prime-time uttering his habitual profanity towards a fellow politician.

It has been observed that he by whose intimacy his acquaintances imagine themselves dignified, diffuses among them his mien and his habits. And it is not easy, when conversing with one, whose general character excites our veneration, to escape all contagion of his peculiarities.

What character and what veneration!

Link to the actual conversation,

In the play. Thersites expresses his opinion about Diomedes.

Image source

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