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Parry writes: "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia."

Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan. (photo: YouTube)
Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan. (photo: YouTube)

A Family Business of Perpetual War

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

22 March 15


eoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.

Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (which doesn’t disclose details on its funders), used his prized perch on the Washington Post’s op-ed page on Friday to bait Republicans into abandoning the sequester caps limiting the Pentagon’s budget, which he calculated at about $523 billion (apparently not counting extra war spending). Kagan called on the GOP legislators to add at least $38 billion and preferably more like $54 billion to $117 billion:

“The fact that [advocates for more spending] face a steep uphill battle to get even that lower number passed by a Republican-controlled Congress says a lot — about Republican hypocrisy. Republicans may be full-throated in denouncing [President Barack] Obama for weakening the nation’s security, yet when it comes to paying for the foreign policy that all their tough rhetoric implies, too many of them are nowhere to be found. …

“The editorial writers and columnists who have been beating up Obama and cheering the Republicans need to tell those Republicans, and their own readers, that national security costs money and that letters and speeches are worse than meaningless without it. …

“It will annoy the part of the Republican base that wants to see the government shrink, loves the sequester and doesn’t care what it does to defense. But leadership occasionally means telling people what they don’t want to hear. Those who propose to lead the United States in the coming years, Republicans and Democrats, need to show what kind of political courage they have, right now, when the crucial budget decisions are being made.”

So, the way to show “courage” – in Kagan’s view – is to ladle ever more billions into the Military-Industrial Complex, thus putting money where the Republican mouths are regarding the need to “defend Ukraine” and resist “a bad nuclear deal with Iran.”

Yet, if it weren’t for Nuland’s efforts as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, the Ukraine crisis might not exist. A neocon holdover who advised Vice President Dick Cheney, Nuland gained promotions under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and received backing, too, from current Secretary of State John Kerry.

Confirmed to her present job in September 2013, Nuland soon undertook an extraordinary effort to promote “regime change” in Ukraine. She personally urged on business leaders and political activists to challenge elected President Viktor Yanukovych. She reminded corporate executives that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” and she literally passed out cookies to anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square.

Working with other key neocons, including National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman and Sen. John McCain, Nuland made clear that the United States would back a “regime change” against Yanukovych, which grew more likely as neo-Nazi and other right-wing militias poured into Kiev from western Ukraine.

In early February 2014, Nuland discussed U.S.-desired changes with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (himself a veteran of a “regime change” operation at the International Atomic Energy Agency, helping to install U.S. yes man Yukiya Amano as the director-general in 2009).

Nuland treated her proposed new line-up of Ukrainian officials as if she were trading baseball cards, casting aside some while valuing others. “Yats is the guy,” she said of her favorite Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Disparaging the less aggressive European Union, she uttered “Fuck the EU” – and brainstormed how she would “glue this thing” as Pyatt pondered how to “mid-wife this thing.” Their unsecure phone call was intercepted and leaked.

Ukraine’s ‘Regime Change’

The coup against Yanukovych played out on Feb. 22, 2014, as the neo-Nazi militias and other violent extremists overran government buildings forcing the president and other officials to flee for their lives. Nuland’s State Department quickly declared the new regime “legitimate” and Yatsenyuk took over as prime minister.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been presiding over the Winter Olympics at Sochi, was caught off-guard by the coup next door and held a crisis session to determine how to protect ethnic Russians and a Russian naval base in Crimea, leading to Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and annexation by Russia a year ago.

Though there was no evidence that Putin had instigated the Ukraine crisis – and indeed all the evidence indicated the opposite – the State Department peddled a propaganda theme to the credulous mainstream U.S. news media about Putin having somehow orchestrated the situation in Ukraine so he could begin invading Europe. Former Secretary of State Clinton compared Putin to Adolf Hitler.

As the new Kiev government launched a brutal “anti-terrorism operation” to subdue an uprising among the large ethnic Russian populations of eastern and southern Ukraine, Nuland and other American neocons pushed for economic sanctions against Russia and demanded arms for the coup regime. [See’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Amid the barrage of “information warfare” aimed at both the U.S. and world publics, a new Cold War took shape. Prominent neocons, including Nuland’s husband Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century which masterminded the Iraq War, hammered home the domestic theme that Obama had shown himself to be “weak,” thus inviting Putin’s “aggression.”

In May 2014, Kagan published a lengthy essay in The New Republic entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” in which Kagan castigated Obama for failing to sustain American dominance in the world and demanding a more muscular U.S. posture toward adversaries.

According to a New York Times article about how the essay took shape and its aftermath, writer Jason Horowitz reported that Kagan and Nuland shared a common world view as well as professional ambitions, with Nuland editing Kagan’s articles, including the one tearing down her ostensible boss.

Though Nuland wouldn’t comment specifically on her husband’s attack on Obama, she indicated that she held similar views. “But suffice to say,” Nuland said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

Horowitz reported that Obama was so concerned about Kagan’s assault that the President revised his commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of the criticism and invited Kagan to lunch at the White House, where one source told me that it was like “a meeting of equals.” [See’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

Sinking a Peace Deal

And, whenever peace threatens to break out in Ukraine, Nuland jumps in to make sure that the interests of war are protected. Last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande hammered out a plan for a cease-fire and a political settlement, known as Minsk-2, prompting Nuland to engage in more behind-the-scenes maneuvering to sabotage the deal.

In another overheard conversation — in Munich, Germany — Nuland mocked the peace agreement as “Merkel’s Moscow thing,” according to the German newspaper Bild, citing unnamed sources, likely from the German government which may have bugged the conference room in the luxurious Bayerischer Hof hotel and then leaked the details.

Picking up on Nuland’s contempt for Merkel, another U.S. official called the Minsk-2 deal the Europeans’ “Moscow bullshit.”

Nuland suggested that Merkel and Hollande cared only about the practical impact of the Ukraine war on Europe: “They’re afraid of damage to their economy, counter-sanctions from Russia.” According to the Bild story, Nuland also laid out a strategy for countering Merkel’s diplomacy by using strident language to frame the Ukraine crisis.

“We can fight against the Europeans, we can fight with rhetoric against them,” Nuland reportedly said.

NATO Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove was quoted as saying that sending more weapons to the Ukrainian government would “raise the battlefield cost for Putin.” Nuland interjected to the U.S. politicians present that “I’d strongly urge you to use the phrase ‘defensive systems’ that we would deliver to oppose Putin’s ‘offensive systems.’”

Nuland sounded determined to sink the Merkel-Hollande peace initiative even though it was arranged by two major U.S. allies and was blessed by President Obama. And, this week, the deal seems indeed to have been blown apart by Nuland’s hand-picked Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, who inserted a poison pill into the legislation to implement the Minsk-2 political settlement.

The Ukrainian parliament in Kiev added a clause that, in effect, requires the rebels to first surrender and let the Ukrainian government organize elections before a federalized structure is determined. Minsk-2 had called for dialogue with the representatives of these rebellious eastern territories en route to elections and establishment of broad autonomy for the region.

Instead, reflecting Nuland’s hard-line position, Kiev refused to talks with rebel leaders and insisted on establishing control over these territories before the process can move forward. If the legislation stands, the result will almost surely be a resumption of war between military forces backed by nuclear-armed Russia and the United States, a very dangerous development for the world. [See’s “Ukraine’s Poison Pill for Peace Talks.”]

Not only will the Ukrainian civil war resume but so will the Cold War between Washington and Moscow with lots of money to be made by the Military-Industrial Complex. On Friday, Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan, drove home that latter point in the neocon Washington Post.

The Payoff

But don’t think that this unlocking of the U.S. taxpayers’ wallets is just about this one couple. There will be plenty of money to be made by other neocon think-tankers all around Washington, including Frederick Kagan, who works for the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly, who runs her own think tank, the Institute for the Study of War [ISW].

According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.

Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See’s “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]

In other words, the Family Kagan has almost a self-perpetuating, circular business model – working the inside-corridors of government power to stimulate wars while simultaneously influencing the public debate through think-tank reports and op-ed columns in favor of more military spending – and then collecting grants and other funding from thankful military contractors.

To be fair, the Nuland-Kagan mom-and-pop shop is really only a microcosm of how the Military-Industrial Complex has worked for decades: think-tank analysts generate the reasons for military spending, the government bureaucrats implement the necessary war policies, and the military contractors make lots of money before kicking back some to the think tanks — so the bloody but profitable cycle can spin again.

The only thing that makes the Nuland-Kagan operation special perhaps is that the whole process is all in the family.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here. your social media marketing partner


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+41 # Activista 2015-03-22 18:32
This war economy (military industrial complex) is so deeply embedded in the US economy - deficit/debt is growing - and our soldiers and hardware is sitting/wasting resources in the Persian Gulf ready for another disastrous war against Iran ...
Young educated people cannot find the job ... here, in Germany, in Israel ...
EU has to wake up and kick NATO out ...
+32 # Activista 2015-03-22 18:50
and where to invest
middle east ... arms
.. he arms package the Obama administration brokered with Saudi Arabia in 2010. Valued at upward of $90 billion, that deal was probably the largest international arms sale by anyone, to anyone, ever -- and packed with everything from Boeing (NYSE:BA) F-15 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, to United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) Blackhawks, to Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile systems from Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)... sickening and pathetic
+33 # indian weaver 2015-03-22 20:01
The quality of details in Activista's comments, and Parry's article are what makes some of these RSN articles and reader comments so brutally, blatantly informing.
+9 # jsluka 2015-03-22 22:53
See Addicted to War by Joel Andreas.
+35 # Billsy 2015-03-23 01:03
Imagine if our govt. sunk $3Trillion into renewable energy research & development and associated manufacturing subsidies instead of this costly and deadly exercise in attempting to dominate the world oil & gas market?
+13 # jdd 2015-03-23 05:31
It is a mistake to assume thst these provocations are simoly a matter of a "war economy" or "military-indus trial complex" trying to make money (and jobs!) for the US economy. What might have had some truth in the 50's is not relevant today as the stakes are much higher than simply profits. The goal of the Anglo-American financial oligarchy is to eliminate any potential rival to their domination of the world's monetary system and will thus seek confrontation with Russia and China to preserve what their t "unipolar" world. Note that even the NY Times expressed dismay at our crude rejection of participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite China's direct invitation, counterposing Obama's TPP, from which China is excluded.Hence, US policy, which under Obama is a combination of neo-cons and liberal RTP bombers, is aimed at knocking down any potential obstacles to economic-politi cal isolation of and military encirclement of both Russia and China, risking thermonuclear war in the process.
+26 # Walter J Smith 2015-03-22 19:57
Wasn't Hillary still the Sec. of State when this happened: " Nuland’s State Department quickly declared the new regime “legitimate” and Yatsenyuk took over as prime minister."

The Hillary laundering aside, it is clear that Hillary and Obama approved of everything Nuland did. Since she had a free hand to do whatever she wanted, both had to approve that in advance.

Why not go after the real nazis here: Obama and H. Clinton!
+6 # Helen Marshall 2015-03-23 20:20
Hillary promoted her, but she left after the 2012 election. But yes, Obama could have and should have stopped her.
0 # cordleycoit 2015-03-22 22:59
We are getting more informed as to the problem. Time to reach in the solutions box pull out something that works with a minimum of stupidity. Right now the only organized protest and capturing of the direct action flag are the Tea Party Everyone else are in full confusion. The followers of the Lenin have power and blew it and the Anarchists disguised as followers of the great Chairman have been disarmed and are being viewed though telescopic sights. "Unite or Die."
-5 # rradiof 2015-03-22 23:31
His name was Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, not Leon Trotsky. Thank god for Ramon Mercader. Nuland and Kagan are fellow travelers of Bronshtein. Over and out.
+43 # Archie1954 2015-03-22 23:34
You know there does come a point where one has to look at couples like this and ask themselves if they are traitors to their own nation, advancing violence and war against it. who do they think will fight the wars they wish to start? Isn't it the American military made up of the men and women of the nation. Who do they think will die so their industrial war armaments friends can make even more $billions? Sick individuals like these really must be removed from positions of power. They are dangerous, not to others but to their own country.
+32 # Ojai Bill 2015-03-22 23:59
Three cheers to Parry for this commentary. It's about time that the Kagan and Nuland combo are called out for the threats to world peace that they are, heavy footprints of responsibility for the Iraqi war and now promoting a conflagration with Russia in the Ukraine. Why Nuland is in her position is incomprehensibl e, and why Obama has respect for
Kagan's views equally a mystery. Isn't Obama, Kerry, Clinton, etc. aware of their background, or are they all really closet neocons themselves, or afraid of alienating the war industry? In any event, it is not a good sign for the cause of peace.
+34 # Vardoz 2015-03-23 01:18
What a horrible fate these disgusting warmongers are making for mankind. The lords of war with total disregard for the deaths of millions, nothing matters to these insane people- No child is too precious, no talent worthwhile no beauty beyond saving no liberty worth preserving, no happiness for the people of the world only death and destruction and their profits for their endless wars. Only crimes against humanity are their reality. How are they any different from any other terrorist? They are arrogant idiots with too much money and power and no vision beyond their own bank accounts. And we the people, all of us, are nothing but collateral damage. For these killers there is nothing more important then making fabricated, endless wars for profit. A pathetic goal for a supposedly superior species.
+16 # walt 2015-03-23 07:40
Excellent article by Robert Parry who exposes more of the same old stuff driving the US government. The neocon Israel lobby and the military-indust rial complex work overtime creating crises for America while we are expected to pay with our lives and dollars as we saw with the fraudulent Iraq invasion. It's more than past time that Americans stood up and said "never again." This country and millions of our citizens are in need and it's time we focused on ourselves.
+14 # dsepeczi 2015-03-23 08:35
Quoting walt:
Excellent article by Robert Parry who exposes more of the same old stuff driving the US government. The neocon Israel lobby and the military-industrial complex work overtime creating crises for America while we are expected to pay with our lives and dollars as we saw with the fraudulent Iraq invasion. It's more than past time that Americans stood up and said "never again." This country and millions of our citizens are in need and it's time we focused on ourselves.

I agree with you 100%. The problem is that at least half (possibly more) of all Americans get their news from TV and lies like the one I mention in a separate post below are what most Americans come to believe. It's scary just how easily an entire populace can be manipulated.
+21 # dsepeczi 2015-03-23 08:18
It's maddening how far our warhawks will go to avoid peace. John McCain was in Illinois yesterday and here's some of the latest lies from that delusional nutbag:

“Today Russians are making use of drones, and if a Ukrainian soldier today sees a drone he has about 60 seconds to move because there’s an artillery shell coming after him. Can’t we in the name of God give the Ukrainian people weapons to defend their own sovereign country?”

Of course, anyone that takes two seconds to investigate these claims knows that Russia doesn't even have any drones, though they are developing the technology and hope to have it in place by the year 2020. But, in McCain's fantasy world, they're already patrolling Ukraine and dominating the poor, helpless soldiers of the coup government, which he refers to as the elected one (also a fantasy). Of course, on ABC news last night, he was parroted word for word without anyone bothering to mention that he was completely, 100% full of shit. Ugh ... and the war drums beat louder. :(
+12 # fredboy 2015-03-23 11:05
What is this witch doing working for our State Department?
+8 # John Escher 2015-03-23 12:43
Quoting fredboy:
What is this witch doing working for our State Department?

The eeriest part of this appalling article is President Obama's described welcoming of Victoria Nuland in The White House "as an equal."

If the general populace knew how to inform itself and how properly to react to what goes on every day, it would raise a hullabaloo from which Nuland and her husband Robert Kagan would never-- politically-- survive.

The public at large would vilify this couple as often as it currently does Vladimir Putin, but with more justification.

What does this article say about the president, Hillary Clinton, Sec'y Kerry, etc., etc.? No guts, no character, and most of all no idealism.

Obama, Clinton, Kerry-- neocons pretty much. I've always thought that the late special envoy Richard Holbrooke was trying to disassociate himself from them in his deathbed insistence that we get out of Afghanistan.

This country has horrendous problems with overly acquiescent leadership rather than the dictatorial qualities that the Tea Party claims.

Today's information on pending melt from Antarctica (4 feet from the west, 11 feet plus from behind Tottem Glacier in the east) seems an emblem for Kagan-and-McCai n-like wish for war, war and more war.

The good news is that 11 feet of added sea level will cover Florida governor Rick Scott.
+2 # Helen Marshall 2015-03-23 21:29
She was first promoted under the Albright/Stobe Talbott Department, courtesy of Bill Clinton, worked for Cheney, then was moved up by Hillary Clinton. Obama passively accepts her at best...
+5 # Radscal 2015-03-23 14:36
Mr. Parry once again provides important investigative journalism in uncovering yet more on the Kagan Krime Klick. Yet, once again, he frames President Obama as the witless victim of NeoCon Artists.

“A neocon holdover who advised Vice President Dick Cheney, Nuland gained promotions under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…”

Nuland got her start in the State Department when President Bill Clinton appointed her, then she came back under VP Darth Cheney, but she was out of government in 2011 when President Obama hired her out of the War College to an Army oversight position for NATO and then back into the State Department.

If anything, she was a "holdover" from the Clinton Administration when she started working with Cheney.
+3 # Helen Marshall 2015-03-23 21:31
YESS YESS you got it!!! She saw that Cheney was important, but she moved up long before that, working for Strobe Talbott...some of us in the State Department realized what a careerist she was but we did not understand that she'd be willing to start a nuclear war to prove her point. Don't forget that Hillary Clinton was SecState when Toria returned to power.
+1 # geonomist 2015-03-24 12:17
You wonder why government is broke? You want to know how outrageous fortunes get made? This is how the real world works.

Want to fix it? You must end the discretionary spending of politicians. Instead of government funding “guns and butter”, you’d get a dividend and hire your own teachers and doctors.

What’d be the source of the revenue? Rent. The worth of Earth. All our spending for the land and resources we use. It’s a surplus, since nobody needs to be paid to produce nature. And it’s ours, generated by the presence and needs of society. Share this common wealth — society’s surplus — and you’d need not worry about misspending and unearned fortunes ever again. More at
0 # CelticNavigator 2015-03-25 20:37
Problem: The "military/indus trial complex" Ike warned about in 1959 is now the military/indust rial/financial/ media/academic/ congressional/j udicial/ executive complex.

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