A few weeks ago it was reported that Natalie Jaresko, Ukrainian finance minister, was “in talks” to become the next Prime Minister of Ukraine. This produced a predictable hubbub even in the edgy part of the mainstream, as even seasoned readers of The New York Times found it a little uncomfortable and suspicious that Jaresko — a U.S. citizen from birth, among other more egregious things I will note below — was being considered for the top government post of a far-off ex-Soviet country that suffered a coup, annexation, and civil war in the last one thousand days.
After all, wouldn’t this be great ammunition for Vladimir Putin and his propaganda outlets that Ukraine is being taken over by foreign imperialists from half-way across the globe? While the mainstreamers who veer somewhat off the path raised a fuss about Jaresko and tut-tutted about American imperialism, they seemed to miss the grander point of Jaresko’s consideration. Ukraine is not an example of American imperialism in the tradition of Iraq, Vietnam, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Ukraine is an example of American imperialism in the tradition of Europe.
Natalie Ann Jaresko was born and raised in the leafy suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from DePaul University in urban Chicago proper, then received a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. A couple of years later she got her first job in Ukraine as the chief of the economic section at the U.S. embassy in Kiev. She left that post and became, among other things, an investment banker.
Based on what I’ve read, she didn’t set foot in Ukraine with the intention to live there until she was a good 27-years-old, and by then, I have little doubt she was less a diaspora Ukrainian than a diaspora American Brahmin. Jaresko, along with two other total non-Ukrainian foreigners, received citizenship by decree from President Poroshenko in 2014 and became a powerful government cabinet minister the very same day.
The other two foreigners were Alexander Kvitashvili, an ethnic Georgian who was born and raised in Georgia, has a master’s degree in public service from New York University and is a former employee of the UN and various other NGOs, and Aivaras Abromavicius, an ethnic Lithuanian who was born and raised in Lithuania, who got his bachelor’s degree at a branch of Concordia International University Wisconsin in Estonia. Kvitashvili became Minister of Healthcare and Abromavicius became Minister of Economy and Trade. Abromavicius made no attempt to hide the fact he spoke absolutely no Ukrainian, although he was fluent in English.
Out of 20 openly listed Ukrainian cabinet ministers, 3 were foreigners until the day they were appointed, 8 were educated abroad in the West and 4 are ethnically non-Ukrainian. While all 20 are not American-born ethnic Jews educated at Harvard, all 20 are not Ukrainian-born Ukrainians educated in Ukraine either. What is the point of calling a country independent if it cannot independently produce 20 people to run its own government? Out of some 45 million people living in Ukraine, the vast majority of whom are ethnically Ukrainian or Russian, there was apparently a terrible shortage of government ministers, or the skills and facilities necessary to train locals for the job.
This contradictory situation is the reality in a large swathe of Europe and the rest of the world, and underscores the hegemony of what can variously be called USG, the Blue Empire, the “International Community,” the State Department Empire, the Harvard Empire, or the Cathedral.
I derive endless joy from browsing the notable alumni sections of prominent American universities and discovering that apparently the leaders of 191 out of 193 supposedly independent and sovereign nations on Planet Earth all learn how to lead, govern, and administrate countries in a handful of homogeneous and conformist American schools, all within a few hundred miles of each other on the northeastern end of the North American continent.
Natalie Jaresko may soon be a Harvard JFK grad and Prime Minister of a foreign country, but she is far from being the first. Taking a look at the list, we find that current or former Presidents/Prime Ministers of Liberia, Mexico, Mongolia, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Singapore, Canada, Tanzania, Bhutan, etc. all learned governance in the same little graduate school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The same farce is repeated if you browse the notable alumni of Yale (Italy, Turkey, Germany, the Philippines, etc.), Princeton (South Korea, Bangladesh, Senegal, Peru, etc.) Georgetown (Lebanon, El Salvador, Lithuania, Bosnia, etc.) or any other fancy American university. The only two countries that seem to be excepted from this trend are Russia and China.
In Croatia, the President is a woman with a hyphenated last name who graduated from high school in New Mexico, attended George Washington University in DC as a Fulbright scholar, and completed a fellowship at (you guessed it) Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The Prime Minister is a Canadian who spent most of his life there and graduated from McMaster University. In Estonia, the President grew up in New Jersey and studied at Columbia and Penn.
Here’s a video of an old professor from America lecturing the European Parliament on why accepting millions of unchecked migrants from the Middle East is a moral duty, in a kindly mid-Atlantic accent to boot. Wait, that’s actually the President of Estonia, a tiny country of one million people speaking a Finno-Ugric language and nestled between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. That’s St. Petersburg, Russia, not Florida. Estonia, supposedly, is sovereign and independent.
The current president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, studied at the school of foreign service at Georgetown University, which, remember, is located in Washington, D.C. It is bizarre that a head of state of any country, let alone a tiny Eastern European country, studied how to serve the interests of one’s own country while abroad in a foreign capital, while abroad in a foreign capital.
Why should anyone believe the best ways to serve the interests of Lithuania were taught at Georgetown? Probably what was taught at Georgetown’s school of foreign service was the best way to serve the United States, and there is no reason to believe Grybauskaite learned anything else, or stopped doing so when she became Lithuania’s president. In fact, two years before she went to Georgetown, she was defending her PhD thesis in Moscow, the then-capital of the Soviet Union, which was, by all accounts, a foreign occupier of Lithuania. After 1990, she didn’t continue her studies in Lithuania’s capital, but in Washington, DC. What does that say about America’s relationship with Lithuania?
Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou are former President and Prime Minister of Greece, respectively. The two of them were roommates at Amherst College in Massachusetts, from where they both graduated. Samaras later got an MBA at Harvard. Papandreou followed a similar path. Papandreou was born in Minnesota, not Greece. Greece is a Mediterranean country of ten million people several thousand miles away from Massachusetts or Minnesota and primarily concerned with the doings of Turks and Albanians, not New Yorkers or Canadians. Greece, much like Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine, is supposedly independent and sovereign.
Some readers may be inclined to argue that there is nothing malicious or deceptive going on here; it is simply a fact that the best schools for politics, economics, and government are all located in New England and the surrounding area, and the leaders of these multitudes of countries inferior to the United States in population and power are doing themselves and their countrymen a great favor by studying in America. They will return home with new knowledge and enrich and improve their homelands.
At this time, I will spare the reader arguments about the stupidity of the American higher educational system, and simply point out that, if this were true, Harvard and Yale would have the profiles of Area 51 or unnamed CIA black sites, not of celebrated brands with marketing and PR firms, to prevent this high-value economic and political knowledge from falling into the hands of Russian or Chinese spies.
Instead, it looks like Russia and China have zero interest in the intellectual output of America, except when it concerns nuclear engineering or cybersecurity, and America’s supposed intellectual powerhouses share their thoughts and insights with as many people as possible through books, newspaper columns, conferences, initiatives, advocacy, lecture tours, etc. Not only are they not hesitant about or restricted from sharing their ideas in Russia and China, they are supported and encouraged by governmental and quasi-governmental institutions to do so. These are the behaviors of institutions spreading a kind of quasi-religious ideology, not of institutions safeguarding powerful wisdom.
When Ivy-educated intellectuals and their followers begin advocating their ideas in Moscow or Hong Kong, they don’t get kidnapped and locked up in secret Sino-Russian political science research labs, they get surreptitiously assassinated or loudly deported and denounced.
Let us return to the tragicomic mess of lies that is today’s Ukraine, which is considering putting the former economic section chief of the U.S. embassy in Kiev in the position of Prime Minister, being a little more obvious about the colonial empire than usual. The FT article with which I introduced Natalie Jaresko mentions that she is “the candidate most likely to stand up to Ukraine’s oligarchs.” This is one of the most bizarre lines I’ve ever read in my life. A little cursory research and reflection reveals beyond any doubt that Jaresko is not just not likely to stand up to Ukraine’s oligarchs, she is likely to stand up for them.
Who made Jaresko a Ukrainian citizen and gave her her current job? Petro Poroshenko, one of 27 Ukrainian billionaires who became President of Ukraine following the coup of 2014 that ousted the previously elected pro-Russian President. This, at the very minimum, suggests Jaresko is already on the side of the oligarchs, seeing as she owes her current status and position to one of them. And the rest of those 27 Ukrainian billionaires? Shortly following the coup, one of them became President and four others were immediately appointed governors of Ukrainian regions.
One more (Dmitro Firtash) became (based on analysis of mouthy bureaucratic titles) deeply involved as an advisor in the government. The four who became governors include Ihor Baluta, Serhiy Taruta, Ihor Palytsia, and Ihor Kolomoisky, who has triple Cypriot-Israeli-Ukrainian citizenship and personally spent more than $10 million on anti-Russian militias. What oligarchs, exactly, is Jaresko going to stand up to? The ones in Russia?
Between the foreigners appointed to cabinet positions and billionaires appointed to governorships, Ukraine wasn’t doing a very good impression of an independent and sovereign country before Poroshenko appointed Mikheil Saakashvili to the position of Governor of Odessa oblast. If the name seems familiar, it may be because Saakashvili is an ethnic Georgian who was born and raised in Georgia and educated at Columbia, George Washington University, and the International Institute of Human Rights in France (an institution named with such nauseatingly pious progressive gusto I put its name in scare quotes before I looked it up to double-check if it was real) before becoming President of Georgia from 2004 to 2013, during which time he led Georgia into a short war with Russia in 2008. Needless to say, Saakashvili also got day-of citizenship from Poroshenko.
Why on Earth is this man running Odessa oblast, and not one of the 2.3 million local Ukrainians in the region? Ted Cruz had to renounce his Canadian citizenship to assure his constituents in Texas he was on their side. Apparently, there is no comparable pressure in Ukraine. Yours truly is no believer in democracy or the will of the people, but the overlords running Ukraine from abroad need not be hypocrites, too. If the State Department plans to replace the government of Ukraine with people friendly to U.S. interests, it might as well be honest about it and stop trying to pretend that this is all in the name of democracy, or human rights, or the people, or that Poroshenko and Jaresko are going to protect Ukrainians from oligarchs and foreign meddlers, and aren’t the oligarchs and foreign meddlers themselves.
If it did that, it might as well formalize its relationships to Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, etc., and at that point it might as well do the same with the litany of other Third World countries, from Mexico to Bangladesh, that depend on the Ivy League and State Department for competent administrators. I will be the first to recommend the new American colonial office holds its ribbon-cutting ceremony in Cambridge. Or perhaps the Georgetown campus is a better place? With 191 countries to take care of, there will probably be a need for more than one office anyway, and, well, there are plenty of millennials with degrees in gender studies to teach Ukrainians about why gay parades strengthen democracy and anal sex promotes economic growth.
There is no sovereignty and independence without intellectual and administrative sovereignty and independence. A country unable to produce or secure its own leaders and administrators is not an independent country. It is, by definition, a highly and fundamentally dependent country. The word for such countries used to be vassal state or puppet state. Maybe colony or protectorate.
For all intents and purposes, there are only three sovereign countries on the planet in 2016: Russia, China and the “International Community.” The four most important Russian leaders were all educated in Russia. The seven most important Chinese leaders were all educated in China, with the exception of one person. Did he get a master’s degree in public service in DC or Boston?
The one exception studied at Kim Il-Sung University in North Korea. How would a degree from Kim Il-Sung University look on a resume for a government job anywhere else but China?
Now that’s what I call sovereignty!