Official Washington Hails an Anti-Russia Hawk

Exclusive: President Trump’s complaint that Official Washington is trying to block his policies, including détente with Russia, is underscored by the praise heaped on a departing State Department official, writes James W Carden.

By James W Carden

It’s probably safe to wager that few people outside of Washington, and perhaps even quite a few people inside it, have ever heard of Ambassador Daniel Fried — at least not until very recently.

U.S. Ambassador Daniel Fried, who recently retired as the State Department’s coordinator for sanctions policy. (Photo from YouTube)

The longtime Ambassador, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. State Department, recently made headlines in Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Politico and NPR for a farewell speech he made to his State Department colleagues during which he took a parting shot at President Trump for the latter’s widely assumed (but yet to be acted upon) desire to come to an accommodation with Russia.

Fried’s address won praise from Establishment figures like former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken (a “powerful defense of liberal international order”), Atlantic Council executive Damon Wilson ( a “clarion call for the U.S. to believe in itself and lead [a] liberal order”) and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen (“a superb summation of everything worth fighting for to keep this planet fit for human habitation”).

Why all the excitement? Well for one, Frieds’s farewell hit the many of Establishment’s erogenous zones:

–NATO expansion as an unalloyed good: NATO and the E.U. – grew to embrace 100 million liberated Europeans… this great achievement is now under assault by Russia

–Realists just don’t “get it”: George Kennan didnt think much of what he termed Americas moralistic-legalistic tradition. But this foreign policy exceptionalism was the heart of our Grand Strategy through two World Wars, the Cold War and the post-1989 era, and it was crowned with success.

–And then there is Fried’s tendentious (and among neoconservatives and liberal interventionists widely shared) rendering of history and his puzzling conflation of the world situations as they obtained in 1940 and as it obtains currently, in 2017: In 1940, Germany offered Britain a sphere of influence deal: German recognition of the British Empire in exchange for Londons recognition of Germany dominance of continental Europe. Churchill didnt take the deal then; we should not take similar deals now.

While there can be little doubt that Fried served loyally, with distinction and was in all likelihood an exemplary functionary of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus, what else explains the outpouring of praise for Fried?

Part of it of course is that in Washington, you get points for longevity regardless of your record. Recall the encomiums heaped upon Andrew Marshall a couple years ago when Marshall, who spent his career as the Pentagon’s chief policy hand, retired after four decades in 2015.

The Washington Post reverentially called Marshall “the Pentagon’s Yoda”; The Economist praised him as “the quiet American”; and that year a flattering book was released about Marshall entitled The Last Warrior: Andrew Marshall and the Shaping of Modern American Defense Strategy. In a review of the book, Notre Dame political scientist Michael Desch tartly noted that “at the end of the day, Marshall was not a saint but rather a public official who served too long and whose record was more mixed than his incense burners are prepared to admit.”

#Resistance to Trump

Another reason for the current praise for Fried’s address is that it combined two of the essential ingredients of the #Resistance that is currently so in vogue in today’s Washington: opposition to Trump and hostility to Russia – never mind whether the policy implications of such a stance are necessary or wise.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left and the Kremlin to the right. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Days after he retired, Fried sat down with another tried-and-true Russia critic, former Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post Susan Glasser, and said that in his opinion, “Russia despises the West. And it is doing what it can to weaken the West.” Trump should not, said Fried, “be so desperate to rub up against a Russia which is busy trying to do us in all over the world.”

That Fried’s carries these opinions on Russia is unsurprising; a look at his career in the Foreign Service shows a diplomat who took the most hawkish positions possible regarding Russia in the post-Cold War period. Fried was a vocal champion of NATO enlargement, arguing, as U.S. Ambassador to Poland in January 1998 that “NATO membership had a stabilizing effect on Western Europe’s ‘ethnic rivalries’ and the prospect of membership in ‘the West’ has strengthened political moderates and weakened nationalists throughout Central Europe, to U.S. benefit.”

This assessment looks rather less than prescient in light of the recent rise in ethno-nationalist regimes in Poland, Hungary and, of course, Ukraine.

As U.S. Assistant Secretary for Europe under George W Bush, Fried declared that Russia’s defense of the ethnic Russian enclave of South Ossetia against the neoconservative puppet government of Mikheil Saakashvili was “not the sign of a strong nation. It is the sign of a weak one.”

Russia, said Fried, anticipating many of the same talking points we hear today, told The Washington Post in August 2008, “Russia is going to have to come to terms with the reality; it can either integrate with the world or it can be a self-isolated bully. But it can’t be both.”

Fried was one of the lead architects of U.S. sanctions against Russia in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis and Crimean annexation. Having served as the State Department’s coordinator of sanctions policy, he recently argued that “without the sanctions the situation might well be much worse. And if you don’t think it can be worse then I think you just lack imagination. The Russians could have driven deeper into Ukraine and they could have tried to seize Mariupol or driven on land all the way to Crimea or attack Harkhiv. The sanctions may have stopped the Russians from going further.”

This summation is, to put it mildly, open to question, given that there is little evidence that the Russians even want the small part of Donetsk and Luhansk that they currently help to subsidize and support.

In the end, in judging the supposed wisdom of Fried’s recent fusillades against Trump and Russia we might look to the record of the man rather than his rhetoric.

James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

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32 comments for “Official Washington Hails an Anti-Russia Hawk

  1. mike k
    March 7, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Most of us live in a culture of make believe (Derrick Jensen). It is a doll’s house (Ibsen) that severely limits and shapes our perceptions and possibilities. To break out of this pretended reality requires one to face some shocking and unpleasant facts, and do some hard thinking about changing one’s life. Few manage to navigate this difficult passage, and those who do find themselves unable to communicate with those “left behind” in the worlds of their illusions. These few suffer the pains of the Cassandra complex – having crucial insight into the unfolding crisis but unable to awaken those still rapt in their futile dreaming.

    There are no real solutions in the dream narratives most of us live by, only deeper snarls of delusion and dysfunction. But until workable paths to awakening are developed and pursued, we are all condemned to follow where the sleepwalkers may lead us….

    • BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS
      March 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      mike k,

      Thank you for a very perceptive comment. I hadn’t read about “the Cassandra” complex for a very long time. There is an author you didn’t mention: Augusto Cury, author of two magnificent fictional denouncement of all that we take to be “ordinary” in the modern world, including our screwed up politics. His “Dreamseller” books do create yet another metaphor as does his didactic book entitled “Think.”

      As for our author above, he succinctly tells one of the cores of the story here:

      “[A] reason for the current praise for Fried’s address is that it combined two of the essential ingredients of the #Resistance that is currently so in vogue in today’s Washington: opposition to Trump and hostility to Russia – never mind whether the policy implications of such a stance are necessary or wise.”

      Thank you for your perceptive and deep [no pun intended] comment.

      Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus Philosophy and Religion and Public Policy, Northeatern University, Boston, MA—and the only philosopher I know of who supports our POTUS and is especially keen on his wanting a working relationship with Russia (I have three Trump books out and the second one emphasizes that point). Being a Ph.D. Trump supporter is a little like being a person known to enjoy eating the holes in donuts—very few of my professional friends are still friendly. (That’s discussed in my third book.)

    • backwardsevolution
      March 7, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      mike k – “Most of us live in a culture of make believe…..To break out of this pretended reality requires one to face some shocking and unpleasant facts, and do some hard thinking about changing one’s life.”

      A very painful process too, don’t you think? Because in order to see the world as it is, to see everybody else as they are, you have to see yourself as you REALLY are, stripped naked to the bone. Ugh! Most people are not brave enough to do that, so they continue on in their dream.

      Great comments, mike.

    • Jeff Davis
      March 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      A masterful comment.

      May I add that every person has, among others, two roles: pursuit of the interest of self, family, and immediate community; and ***political*** engagement in the global tussle. Excessive energies dedicated to the latter — in the form of passionate involvement in politics — benefits the political elites at the expense of family and community. And the elites are delighted and do anything that encourages the common man/woman to work for elite interests while neglecting their own. Thus the elites dominate the polity — the “sheeple” — by exploiting the powerful genetic predisposition to tribalism. The evolved survival value of loyalty to and cooperation with the local community, is replaced by the self-sacrificing — which is to say “self-destroying” — loyalty to and pathological submission to the “nation”. Thus do “the people” become the cattle, the tribal “property”, of the tribe of the elites. You have owners.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsL6mKxtOlQ

  2. Joe Tedesky
    March 7, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Hearing how Fried supports NATO tells me everything I need to know, and that is Fried is more dependent on the military arms industry than he is concerned about any human life.

  3. Curious
    March 7, 2017 at 11:32 am

    When Pence was asked who his hero is, he said “Dick Cheney”. For all who don’t feel a connection between two psychopaths in the White House this hero business speaks volumes.

    As far as the Russia bashing and hating prevailing in out media and our politicians. Would like to ask some simple questions of these haters.
    1- Have you even been there?
    2- Have you even been to Crimea and know its history dating back to Catherine the Great?
    3- For those of you with a 30-40 year career in politics or the State Dept can you tell us the difference between the USSR you “fought against” for 30+ years and the new Russia?
    4- When McCain wanted to write a full page response to an article in a Russian newspaper he blurted out “of course I’ll write a full page response to Pravda!” This created a lot of confusion in Russia since Pravda was a big part of the USSR, not the current Russia.

    For the man in this article to have a 40 year career can only say one thing to me. He has hated the USSR (now Russia for 39 of those years and is an old dog with no new tricks, narrow in thinking and most likely cannot tell the difference between Russia and the USSR except to mention Russia now has less land and is happy NATO is at their door. this is just a guess, but it is as good a guess as their alleged hacking theories. I doubt many who are carreer politicians can code, much less determine source code of a hack that served to only embarrass their poor DNC politics and how the screwed over any competition to their bloodlust Hillary.

  4. Sam F
    March 7, 2017 at 11:57 am

    It says much about Obama that he did not kick out Fried in 2008, and accepted the use of NATO as a tool of aggression on behalf of Israel/MIC/KSA.

  5. Brad Owen
    March 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    This guy sounds stuck in the Cold War seventies. They agreed to bury the hatchet in the nineties and we raped them during the Yeltsin years, giving rise to criminal oligarchs (just EXACTLY what we suffer from over here; MIIC portfolio-ed War Criminals). ALL the bullying has been on OUR part. Putin managed to check the oligarchs (something we have, as yet, FAILED to do, leaving us under Wall Street’s boot), backing them into a corner, and begin Reconstruction of a viable Nation-State, with generous help from China (something we DESPERATELY need to do, in partnership with Russia and China)…the days of geopolitics and imperial wars of conquest and destabilization (C&D) are over, rendered obsolete policy by WWII, thermo-nukes, and instant communications. Time for humanity to grow up and manage our HomeWorld more wisely; as there is MUCH restorative work that needs doing.

    • Billy Field
      March 8, 2017 at 8:33 am

      I’d say; Brad Owen really has it 100% right…..Bravo Sir!….One highlight from his post above.. “the days of geopolitics and imperial wars of conquest and destabilization (C&D) are over, rendered obsolete policy by WWII, thermo-nukes, and instant communications. ”

      Sadly, I further note manufacturing conflicts & domestic support for interventions is a massively GOOD BUSINESS for the 3% AND Nation States….&, it works well only because the MSM, Politicians & “experts” promote false “FEARS & threats” …& also interventions by lying in concert (in the MSM)……& they hate dissent & truth tellers & with good reason……Millions needlessly killed & it hasn’t even benefited any of the 99% in the west….. unfortunately for them the evidence is all out there on the Internet & now can’t be hidden …so I hope it’s only a question of time before them all in the dock.. it’s really all been just a massive & total criminal fraud….

  6. Bill Bodden
    March 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    “Russia despises the West. And it is doing what it can to weaken the West.”

    There are many other nations that despise the West for understandable reasons. Gore Vidal’s book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace – How We Got to be so Hated” explains the who and why of this deplorable history.

  7. elizabeth
    March 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    It would be great if there could be diplomatic relations with Russia…However, NOT with Putin and his oligharch buddies robbing the Russian people of their resources…think Exxon! Trump and many in his cabinent and his white house are linked to Russians? I understand the “Russian hawks”….McCain comes to mind. But, why does this writer not understand that we need to know the truth. Did Russia hack our democracy and the DNC, RNC? Did the Russian Ambassador meet with Trumps campaign before and after the election? What about these oligharchs robbing the Russian people with money laundering. We know they delivered billions to the Deutch bank, fined for $650M. He left and formed the Bank of Cyrpus with another Russian oligharch as his partner, then that money was delivered to NY…WHO in New York..the Trump organization? We know an oligharch bought a Trump owned mansion for $40m and was sold to the Russian for $100m…all to money launder those stolen funds by purchasing real estate all over the world. We need the writer to dig deeper into this matter..our democracy is at stake.

    • March 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Isreal, think Gaza massacres, and Saudi Arabia think financing Dash destroying Yemen and Houthis the bulwark against Al Quida. Think Russian destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan ,Lybia, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and coups in Honduras and Ukraine,…. Oh thats USA! Think the Putin foundation taking bribes for arms from S.A. Think Citizens United , lobbyists and the stolen 2000 and 2004 elections, you are correct the Oilgarchs control Russia.

    • Bianca
      March 8, 2017 at 2:00 am

      You fead too much MSM. Putin is one of the most brilliant leaders of our time. Promoting harmony, managed to help unite Eurasia, and with China stabilized Central Asia. He is patiently moving to stabilize Middle East, and has advanced trade and cooperation throught the globe. Russian science found its legs again, and the decision to make entire Russia GMO free will pay off now that Russia has become one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat. Russia is making infoads into energy market of Japan, and is changing its economic policy for Russia’s Pacific coast. But if provoked by violence, responds. Georgia learned ths lesson hard way, and Europe and US have learned it by organizing ccoup in Ukraine. Sanctions helped Russia in a fundamental way. Russia was in many ways similar to Europe in trade. But sanctions pushed it into “Russia First”, and increased production as import substitution took roots. It has strenghtened its manufacturing, food processing and wheat exports. Ties to Asia have skyrocketed. It is not clear who is the beneficiary of bad news about Russia. Russia has only started, and much more needs to be done. But it is not serving any real objective to portray its situation in ridiculously cartoonish manner.

      What is disturbing to some is see Russia rebound militariy. But if those believed that Russia was an easy prey, they simply do not know Russia.

      • incontinent reader
        March 8, 2017 at 12:11 pm

        Very well stated.

      • Rob Roy
        March 9, 2017 at 12:07 am

        Thanks, Bianca. Excellent, accurate and refreshing comment.

        • Geoffrey de Galles
          March 9, 2017 at 4:19 pm

          Here, here.

  8. mike k
    March 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Elizabeth, any remaining oligarchs in Russia are very small potatos compared to our real rulers in the US and their tyrannical allies around the world. You seem full of unproven allegations about Russia and Putin. What do you intend to use that axe you are grinding for? Starting a war against Russia?

    • Rob Roy
      March 9, 2017 at 12:10 am

      mike k, You say, “You seem full of unproven allegations about Russia and Putin. What do you intend to use that axe you are grinding for? Starting a war against Russia?”
      Bianca’s statements are verifiable. She’s not grinding an axe. And obviously, doesn’t want to start a war with Russia. You sentence is baffling, to say the least.

  9. MaDarby
    March 7, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I urge everyone to read “The Brothers” about John Foster and Allan Dulles. Their views are carried through to today by men such as Fried each generation preaching – and acting on – the same extreme Calvinist (of course it is common to all protestant/Evangelical Christians it’s just Calvin is the best to represent them) ideology regarding “The Church of America the Redeemer” (thanks to http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176246/tomgram%3A_andrew_bacevich%2C_at_the_altar_of_american_greatness/#more)- where all enemies represent chaos (the devil) let loose on the earth which we must banish. That is the establishment which must be reckoned with. It is quite literally the Biblical slaughter of the innocents to appease an demanding god and rid the world of evil. Steadily and almost out of sight tens of millions killed billions deliberately kept in poverty – these past 70 years have not been years of peace they have been years of continued slaughter.

    • tina
      March 9, 2017 at 12:08 am

      I read that book. very informative. Did reading that book change one thing? No. I also read Jane Meyer’s Dark Money. So what? How can reading these books change anything? Yes, we feel good because we read. Wrong because apparently our countrymen think otherwise? Horrible personal example, one family member decided to go with Amway, DeVos. She thinks she will get rich. How do you talk to someone like that a family person?

  10. Exiled off mainstreet
    March 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    The question is can we survive if Trump does not upend the imperialist consensus personified by parasitic lackeys such as Fried.

  11. liam
    March 7, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Massive #WhiteHelmets Photo Cache Proves Hollywood Gave Oscar to Terrorist Group https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/02/27/massive-white-helmets-photo-cache-proves-hollywood-gave-oscar-to-terrorist-group/

  12. Bianca
    March 8, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Liberal world order. Liberal. Sure, they are very liberal with our money, our sovereignity, our property, our liberty and even our lives. In order to put some breaks on all this wonderfull liberality, people started to look for — accountability. And behold! In liberal world, there is no accountability. Corporate multilateralism, trade agreements, block mentality — all compete for creating new legislative and judiciary, nice and secret, not subject to.national legislatures or courts. We were on our way to be societies of renters — while the secret cream of the society collects and lives far from the empoverished serfs. Enough wealth has been already sucked out by our liberal humanitarians — but we need to see the books. Globalism failed — both the poor and the rich societies. Some individuals got rich dnough to own balf of the global wealth. Yes, we clesrly were liberal out of our minds, but the time bas come to fix the problems st home. Those liberal enough not to actually care about where the home is — good luck. You may need it.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 8, 2017 at 5:08 am

      Bianca – good comments!

  13. bozhidar balkas
    March 8, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Said Kissinger that Bosnia is an artificial country. Bu he did not see that US, Canada, Australia, Israel were and still are by far more miscegenational and, thus, artificial than Bosnia.

    He failed to note that Switzerland is also a miscegenational country [thus artificial also?] but has been in peace for ca. five centuries.
    It remained only in peace, i think, because its neighbors, Austria and France did not want to wage wars to divide Switzerland among selves.

    However, Bosnia’s neighbors, Serbia and Croatia wanted to wage wars against Bosnia for over a century and did wage wars for it in the nineties.

    But did the West know that? I suggest it did know it, but decided to allow it. Russia knew it; alas, sided with Serbia; thus, was and is also responsible for the death of about 100k Bosnians and expulsion of about 2 mn Bosnians from their homes.

    But both Serbia and Croatia had failed thus far to annex parts of Bosnia. The main actor and factor in preventing dissolution of Bosnia was US—it changes its mind about division of Bosnia in early ’94.

    It also seems to me that the other three big factors: UK, France, and Germany are also for the wholeness of Bosnia.

  14. bozhidar balkas
    March 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

    As long as meting out information is in private hands [or better said: in hands of the rich or richest Americans], we can expect only worsenings for the ‘less-valued’ Americans.

    I have been saying this since, i think, couple of decades ago; when i began seeing things [so to speak] and began discovering a lot of salient facts about US.

    One of them is that MSM is near-totally an independent organization [or a rich person’s tool] of, say, at least 70% of Americans but completely in an interdependent relationship with Congress, W.H, Pentagon, money people.

    That was always the case until Trump came galloping, condemning, blaming, and insulting even the holy of the holiest: MSM mafia and its masters or owners.

  15. bozhidar balkas
    March 8, 2017 at 11:05 am

    How to greet God when he finally sees you for the first time? Leave a smile on your face just before you die! God, seeing for the first time ever a smiling corpse, will be so pleased, he will give you a choice: go back to hell on earth or to heaven after resurrection—you get to choose which.

    Morticians, there’s a job for you to do!

    Ewe loves you and you love ewe; so, no more eating ewe meat ever again!!

    Did the Big Bang strike deaf all gods? Either that or they do not exist!

  16. Michael Kenny
    March 8, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I can resolve Mr Carden’s puzzlement as regards 1940, or, more correctly, 1939. That was the last time that one European state annexed the any part of the sovereign territory of another European state until Putin annexed Crimea and fomented, or tried to foment, “rebellions” in other parts of Ukrainian territory. In 1939, Hitler and Stalin carved up Poland and Stalin also annexed the Baltic Republics and took Bessarabia from Romania. He also seized territory from Finland. That precipitated WWII with its millions of dead.Modern Europeans believe that if Hitler had been stopped in his tracks when he first violated international law, all that could have been prevented and the attempt to “accomodate” Hitler in the early stages merely encouraged him to grab more. The US was dragged rather unwillingly into that fight and is far more committed to Europe now than then (defence of Israel, war on terror …). That, I think, is the nub of Ambassador Fried’s point: “accomodation” (the current buzz word among Putin’s American supporters) didn’t work with the revisionist Hitler, it won’t work with the revisionist Putin.

    • Geoffrey de Galles
      March 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Re: sentence #2 — ever heard of Victoria Nuland and Joe Biden (plus his son)?

  17. Rick Patel
    March 8, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Crack-pot neocons & interventionists on the left & right are running amok in Washington. They won’t be satisfied until huge mushroom clouds are blooming over America’s major cities.

  18. geoff
    March 8, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    more of the same. inability to flex and realize strength comes as a result of sanity in communication. who has represented us in the ukraine, syria and libya? and who has consistently lied to congressional inquiries and to fbi investigators? yup, and she almost became president. do you really expect anyone to believe that the state dept has a handle on international policy and action. this fellow fried is overdone and im glad he is not cookin’ anymore. cesspool d.c. has dumped its own and good riddance.

  19. Curious
    March 9, 2017 at 2:29 am

    To add to this discusian of Russian has become become a simple, numbing Skinner Box in this site which is a shame.Too many mouses and rate bumping into walls lookin for uninformed nourishment has degraded this site

    The people who have a job researching the hacking and the leaking are well versed in the methodology of the internet. Most know Russia didn’t play a roll.But if peoples nights are spent st the bowling alley, how would they know? And yet there oppinion carries weight in this dunbdowdned culture whucg is rage USA, For you bowlers with Hollywood opinions, the US didn’t win WW2, the Russians did with the bloody loss of around 20 million people.

    For Russia to be the new “enemy” is nothing more than the war corpororations raping our country in the name of “defense”. They are not in the market of defense, they are in the msrket of billions wasted when it could benefit the tax payers who actually give the money to the ones who want to spent it,

    Russia is not the enemy and it is time for the dinosaurs of our budget to learn, grow, and see the new world as it is before the military creates new enemies to pad their budjet and anyone with strength of resolve will see the military for what it is: a skam to rape the country of its vital infrastructure until they can slam no more.

    Cheers for a new day when people realize half our budget goes to a bottomless pit and they are the aggressors, not the defenders,

    Ps. Why is no one holding the military’s feet to the fire for losing 6.2 trillion dollars? And yet Mr Trump feels they need more money since thy don’t have enough money.

    Having spent a good many years in Russia, the bashing of similtons has to stop sub was rgwt are a culture more advanced than our greedy and corporate domination.

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