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Those not enrolled Ambassador Marie’s booster club may be baffled by the rather selective integrity on display. She speaks for her group (deep state/ interagency consensus/ career policy staff/ whatever) when she says that she disapproved of Rudy Giuliani wandering in and identifying which investigation targets the US government should instruct the Ukrainian government to investigate or not investigate. But the same group had no problem with a do-not-investigate list from “regular channels” nor any reservations about working closely with DNC operatives looking for dirt on anyone connected with Trump. And, of course, her testimony was totally unaffected by Trump firing her for overt partisan allegiances and actions. (How dare he!)
Leaving aside the issue of Mr. Giuliani’s spectacularly poor judgment in this entire matter, we need to get a clearer understanding of “regular channels.” One might think that “channel” implies a passive conduit through which information and directives flow. One would be wrong. These “regular channels” get to decide what flows through them, like a cable box that can veto your viewing choices. It means deference to sensibilities if not the specific preferences of The Experts.
We need to recall the great interagency traditions that gave us the Bay of Pigs and the coup/ assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem—our policy pros providing infallible guidance. They were the experts who realized that Ronald Reagan would only exacerbate tensions with a Soviet system likely to outlast our own. They are the people who have the sophistication and education to understand the need to respect foreign cultures—except when we want to pressure them to implement birth control and abortion policies that are more than just a tad different from that nation’s existing values.
The pros realize that when you want to know what’s really going on in a country you should ask someone from the educated urban elite because they will have the same deep connection with average folks as the American elite does with our own deplorables. The experts knew that Yasser Arafat would deliver peace if given enough cash and signed papers. They knew the Iraq War Surge was silly—we should have turned Iraq over to Iran and abandoned Israel to achieve regional peace. And they gave us the Iran nuclear deal.
In the case of Ukraine, the highly principled Friends of Marie did not threaten resign, leak or conspire when Barrack Obama rolled over for Vladimir Putin and expressly refused to take any meaningful action to help Ukrainians defend themselves. But these same paragons would have us believe that a delay in aid delivery was an unprincipled foreign policy disaster because of actions not done through “regular channels.” Or more precisely, legality and propriety is solely determined by the partisan politics, sensibilities and acknowledgment of the importance of The Experts.
Institutional narcissism gussied up to look like a principled position is nauseating. Marie is not the only one who should have been shown the door. Once anyone in policy work forgets who has final authority under American law, that person needs to move on. Don’t like the policy? Resign and write op-eds and a memoir but don’t think you have a right to organize a coup.Published in