America Is Really Bad At Foreign Interventions. Why Does Biden Think Ukraine Will Be Any Different?

One of the very first operations undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after its founding in 1947 was to create an army to fight the Soviets in Ukraine. Dubbed Operation Nightingale, the CIA aimed to reconstitute Nazi death squads in Ukraine that the Germans called Nachtigall.

The newly created U.S. intelligence community figured we’d partnered with communists to destroy fascism. Now, post war, we could team with the fascists to destroy communism.

Unsurprisingly, Nightingale was a spectacular failure. The Kremlin’s spies discovered every aspect of the plan well before it was initiated.

In its early years, the CIA lurched from one fiasco to another. On Sept. 20, 1949, CIA analysts declared the Soviet Union would not produce a nuclear weapon for at least another four years. Three days later, Truman had to tell the country that Russia had the bomb.

Sadly, things are hardly better today.

In 2021, U.S. intelligence agencies looked into their crystal ball and told senior congressional leaders that Afghanistan’s national security forces could keep the Taliban at bay for a year or perhaps longer. The Taliban took Kabul in a matter of hours.

“Clearly we didn’t get things right” on that intelligence, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dryly remarked later.

The next year, U.S. intelligence took the opposite tack on Ukraine, predicting the capital, Kiev, might fall within days of Russia’s 2022 invasion. Two years in, Kiev is still in the Ukraine column.

Bonehead analysts even offered to evacuate Volodymyr Zelensky — evidently having learned nothing from the disastrous U.S. evacuation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

What did they get right? Avril Haynes, the Director of National Intelligence, applauded her agency for correctly predicting that Russia planned to invade Ukraine. “We assess President Putin is prepared for prolonged conflict,” she testified in May 2022. You don’t say? The 100,000 troops Putin amassed on Ukraine’s border were likely a helpful clue.

Many in our intelligence community scoffed at Putin’s criticism of America’s heavy hand in Ukraine. Those who dared point out that the CIA had injected former Nazis into Ukraine after World War II were labeled stooges of Russian disinformation. They’d prefer we not recall the U.S.’s more provocative recent history in Ukraine, much of it based on bad American intelligence.

During Ukraine’s Maidan demonstrations in 2013, U.S. officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, saw an opportunity to fulfill the predictions of President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who postulated that “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”

By pulling Ukraine closer to Europe, NATO and the U.S., they reasoned we could de-claw the Russian bear. Thus, the U.S. supported ousting the democratically-elected Ukraine president, Viktor Yanukovych. Victoria Nuland, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted that the United States had “invested” $5 billion to build Ukraine’s credentials to join the European Union.

She passed out actual cookies during the coup. Nuland was later caught on tape plotting who would be Ukraine’s post-coup president and getting Joe Biden to give an “attaboy” that would “F**k the EU” for not being aggressive enough with Moscow.

On cue, Biden endorsed Ukraine’s uprising: “Nothing would have greater impact for securing our interests.” Yanukovych was ousted and in the months that followed, Nuland pushed the U.S. to arm Ukraine and carefully crafted the media message, “I would like to urge you to use the word ‘defensive system’ to describe what we would be delivering against Putin’s offensive systems.”

If Nuland’s regime-change playbook sounds familiar, stop a moment and ponder that her resume also includes serving as Vice President Dick Cheney’s principal deputy national security advisor. Her husband, Robert Kagan, was among the chief proponents of America’s swell idea to bring democracy and stability to Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein.

Other U.S. players meddled in Ukraine as well. On April 12th, 2014, CIA Director John Brennan secretly visited Ukraine, kicking off a new covert war with Russia.  In a recent report by The New York Times, turns out the CIA has operated a dozen secret bases in Ukraine since his visit. Little wonder Brennan feared a Trump victory.

Trump’s surprising win in 2016 undermined all this maneuvering. “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem,” Trump told Zelenskyy. “That would be a tremendous achievement.” Trump lowered the temperature, but pausing weapons delivery to Ukraine became the root cause of his first impeachment.

Within six weeks of taking office, the Biden administration cranked up aid to Ukraine, delivering $125 million in March 2021. As of two weeks ago, that figure now tops $185 billion.

America holds a long list of failed interventions based on bad intelligence: Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Panama, Haiti, Serbia, Grenada, Iran, South Vietnam, Congo, Cuba, Guatemala, Albania and the Dominican Republic, among others.

It doesn’t take an intelligence genius to predict the ultimate outcome of our latest dalliance in Ukraine.


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