Lately, Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, is best known, or, rather, notorious, for her role in objecting to the initial set of the Benghazi attack talking points when she reportedly asked that references to al Qaeda and previous CIA warnings about threats posed to U.S. diplomats in Libya be scrubbed from the document. I.e., she is said to have demanded that (accurate) assessments of terrorist involvement be scrubbed, along with references to (accurate) intelligence warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi leading up to the 9/11/2012 attack on US diplomatic compound in which four Americans were murdered. Nuland’s role provided the closest thing to smoking-gun evidence of a cover up. Then I assume all of us remember when in January/February of this year on YouTube, there was uploaded an audio recording of a confidential telephone conversation between Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine – Jeffrey Payette. Offended by the indecision of European Union leaders in the fight against Moscow’s “evil intentions” in Ukraine, the cheeky high-ranking American did not hesitate to use dirty words towards the European Union (“Fuck the EU”). Episodes like these draw attention to the type of people who are deciding the destinies of the world – trying to teach others.
And on Friday 11 July 2014 Nuland attended in Dubrovnik the 9th “Croatia Forum” held around issues of EU enlargement into the Western Balkans region. She called for struggle against corruption and for democratic recourse to preserve the values of transatlantic community. She sent a serious message to the corrupt Balkan politicians that the United States know for their corrupt practices and their undemocratic rule. "Europe can’t be whole when kleptocrats treat states as a bonanza of spoils for themselves and their cronies. And it can’t be free when elections are rigged, independent media is silenced and minorities are vilified. And it can’t be at peace when corrupt officials use political, economic and judicial intimidation to stifle opposition and rip off their own citizens," Nuland said to the participants of the forum and continued: “Corruption also threatens national sovereignty because every dirty politician in our midst, every dirty non-transparent contract that we allow, creates another wormhole of vulnerability and an opportunity for mischief by outside forces. From the Balkans to the Baltic to the Black Sea, we must understand, as those on the Maidan did, that corruption is not just a democracy killer, it’s another grey tool in the arsenal of autocrats and kleptocrats who seek to extend their influence, weaken our democracies and enrich themselves at the expense of our citizens”.Nuland said the gas price dispute, Moscow's annexation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine underlined the energy security threat facing Europe. Europe’s energy security needs much work and “building up diverse flow capabilities and capacities and building up deeper networks throughout the continent," was what was needed. "Croatia has an essential role to play, as an energy security hub for the 21st century... You (Croatia) have spectacular assets to do that so long you as you make smart choices as you are going forward," Nuland said. Nuland did not spell out what choices she considers “smart” but given that Croatia is already an EU member perhaps she was using the Croatian platform to address the non-EU members at the forum such as Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania… Perhaps it her address was not about energy security but about gaining anti-Russia support and in doing so all sorts of compromises, scrubbing of war crimes etc., could emerge to fast-track some of these countries into EU membership as a matter of harnessing might for the looming cold war against Russia. According to Croatian news agency HINA, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov said in Dubrovnik on Saturday 12 July that the European Union should not use Western Balkan countries' desire of joining the bloc to force them to choose between Europe and Russia. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said for Croatian Radio that Jean-Claude Juncker’s (European Commission President-designate) statement, that there will be no new EU members in next five years, may be true but sends a wrong message because without enlargement, there will be no security and thus the credibility of the EU is at risk, while Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said that every EU member state should undergo an assessment every ten years and that he is certain that many would not pass on the criteria test that Serbia is now expected to pass. Carl Bildt, who was one of the architects of the abysmally failed Dayton agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, should truly stay out of this exercise of contemplating EU extension into Western Balkans. He has nothing to offer for any real peaceful solution. The like lihood that Croatia’s leaders will swallow head-and-shoulders Nuland’s glowing compliments to Croatia as a country that “could become a regional energy hub” is very, very high. The carrot is likely to become even more attractive now that Germany’s Angela Merkel said 15 July in Dubrovnik at a meeting of eight Western Balkans heads of state that her country would support the “region’s” future in the EU. Croatian current leadership of communist extraction will do everything and anything to intercept and set back any processes dealing with post WWII communist crimes and there are two such cases in German courts at this very moment. One wonders whether justice in these will be compromised for a goal of uniting Western Balkans against Russia. Perhaps Nuland’s “smart choices” include a scenario where Croatia should stop pursuing justice for its own victims of communist crimes and of 1990’s war crimes. While I completely agree with Nuland on the points of corruption and kleptocrats I find it extremely unsettling that it was she who points to the wrongs of it. If I consider the definition of corruption as a moral impurity or deviation from the ideal then her Benghazy scrub would certainly brush at least some corruption against her character. One wonders how much scrubbing of corrupt individuals’ tracks may occur in the process of making Croatia the energy hub of Europe. One wonders what the price the people will pay if their leaders take up the “offer” to lead the way in that region in a cold war against Russia. The huge numbers of unemployed, hungry and poor are not interested in any cold or hot war; their prime concern is how to bring food to the family table.Certainly, it would be welcome if Croatia picked up on investments necessary to make it that hub, but I fear the biggest beneficiaries of such an exercise will not the Croatian people or workers. I gladly wait to be proven wrong on this. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)