Famous for her puppeteering during the 2014 Ukraine coup, the thinking behind this choice of envoy couldn’t be clearer Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist, and host of independently produced talk-shows in French and English.Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist, and host of independently produced talk-shows in French and English.rachelmarsden.comUS Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP
France has been kicked out of Niger by its new military government, by extension placing US interests there in peril. Who would ever have thought that the US footing the bill for training Nigerien soldiers would result in a net gain for Russia and China? Apparently not the US State Department.
Enter Victoria Nuland with demands to speak to those in charge. Officially the acting US deputy secretary of state, Nuland should really change her title to ‘Regime Change Karen’. In modern parlance, a ‘Karen’ is a middle-aged woman “who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors.” Karens can often be spotted at the customer service desks of big box stores demanding to speak to the manager – or in this case, the military leaders now in charge of Niger.
Nuland rocked up to Niger and demanded to speak to the ousted president, but was refused the opportunity. Instead, she got to meet with one of the coup leaders – the new army chief of staff, Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, who not only trained at Fort Benning and at Washington’s National Defense University, but was photographed alongside US Special Operations in Africa Commander Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga just a few weeks ago at a US drone base in Niger.
In a State Department teleconference on Monday, Nuland said that she was in Niger “because we wanted to speak frankly to the people responsible to this challenge to the democratic order.” That didn’t actually require a foreign trip, though. She could have just stayed home and called a staff meeting. You made this mess yourselves, guys.
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“The benefit from the joint mortar training event is twofold – providing Nigerien soldiers with a tangible skill, while also bolstering the partnership between US and Niger forces,” the Pentagon said in 2021 of a joint training exercise. Looks like all those skills came in handy when it came to kicking out US-allied France.
“We met with the self-proclaimed chief of defense of this operation, General Barmou, and three of the colonels supporting him,” Nuland said. “I will say that these conversations were extremely frank and at times quite difficult because, again, we were pushing for a negotiated solution.” Interesting how peace and negotiations suddenly appear on the table when Washington loses its foothold, finds itself in too weak or precarious a position to start dropping bombs, and needs to buy some time to regain the upper hand. Such was the case with the Russia-Ukraine Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015, which used peace as a pretext for better arming Kiev against Moscow as Western allies trained and supplied Ukrainian neo-Nazis at Russia’s doorstep. Nuland not so subtly hinted at Washington’s priorities when she said that she “had a chance first to sit with a broad cross-section of Nigerien civil society,” describing them as “long-time friends of the United States.” In other words, to better shore up the in-country proxies to defend US interests.
Washington and Regime Change Karen here are unabashed control freaks. Nuland was long obsessed with Europe’s Nord Stream pipeline of cheap Russian gas – until it was mysteriously blown up. She was spotted in Ukraine back in 2014, handing out cookies to anti-government protesters and caught discussing the potential roles of Ukrainian opposition leaders post-regime change. That recording leaked, featuring Nuland expressing just how much she values US allies and international law when they don’t quite align with Washington’s agenda for Kiev once US-friendly puppets are installed. “So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and have the UN help glue it, and you know… F**k the EU,” Nuland told US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.
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At a Senate hearing earlier this year into “Russian aggression in Ukraine and beyond,” Nuland demonstrated that she couldn’t even resist keeping her hands off neighboring Belarus, underscoring that the US was “working intensively with the Belarusian opposition.” Regime Change Karen has her nose in everyone’s business. It seems to run in the family, as her husband, Robert Kagan, is a prominent neoconservative interventionist whose biography on the State Department website describes him as an expert on “NATO expansion.” He also co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank, which set out the blueprint for endless US regime change wars against countries that didn’t adhere to Washington’s agenda.
In Niger, that agenda includes keeping the door unlocked so that Washington can come and go as it pleases, like it has in Ukraine, up to and including the point of being able to exploit the country’s resources or use it as a crash pad for operations against its geopolitical foes. Which would explain why the CIA set up a drone base in Niger for its African operations in the wake of the Benghazi fiasco in Libya, after which Washington lost its foothold there. It’s likely not a coincidence that Libya is right next door.
Washington apparently did not foresee that Nigerien troops would take their US-funded training and use it to start defending themselves against what they perceived to be Western interference. Regime Change Karen seems miffed that they didn’t follow the usual path of getting trained up by the US to subsequently be used and exploited to fight Washington’s wars.
If Nuland and her colleagues have any potential at all for introspection amid this fallout in Niger, they might want to start considering what could happen if the Western-backed Azov neo-Nazis also decide someday to betray the interests of their benefactors in favor of defending their own – with all their generously donated firepower courtesy of Western taxpayers. In which case, good luck trying to get your money back or finding the manager. He probably wouldn’t be sporting a name tag – maybe just a Nazi tattoo.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.