Foreign Policy Melvin Goodman Opinion Politics

Meet Our New ‘Secretary of State’ … Nancy Pelosi

The Speaker of the House's recent trips to Armenia and Taiwan spell confusion for the future of US foreign policy.
Nancy Pelosi during a meeting with Armenia’s Ministry of Defence in September 2022. Official YouTube channel of Ministry of Defence of Armenia, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Melvin Goodman / CounterPunch

Nancy Pelosi must realize that her chances of remaining Speaker of the House of Representatives after the November elections are slim.  If the Republican Party wins control of the House, Pelosi probably would find no point in remaining as the leader of a minority party.  At the age of 82, she might believe that the time is right for turning over party leadership to a younger leader, such as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from New York, 30 years younger than Pelosi.

Pelosi, the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since the country’s independence in 1991, has no obvious national security reason for the trip to the Caucasus.  Her travels are politically motivated only seven weeks before the congressional elections. Her district in San Francisco has the country’s largest community of Chinese-Americans, and California is home to very influential Armenians, so domestic politics is the key to her travels.  Pelosi’s delegation to Yerevan included two Armenian-American representatives from California.

In any event, Pelosi’s travel to the world’s worst trouble spots creates significant confusion regarding official U.S. policies and politics.  In flexing the flabby diplomatic muscles of the U.S. Congress, Pelosi is engaging the international community without any obvious coordination with the White House or the Department of State. The notion that anyone from the House of Representatives could have an impact on U.S. foreign policy or diplomacy is particularly ludicrous.  Unfortunately, her trips seemingly amount to a last hurrah.

Pelosi’s trips will do nothing to calm the waters of three of the most difficult regional conflicts in the global community.  Her trip to Kyiv several months ago was a political stunt, it served no political purpose.  Her trip to Taiwan has created additional chaos for the Sino-American relationship as well as for the people of Taiwan.  China pursued its most threatening military exercises against the island during and after Pelosi’s visit.

And now she has touched down in Armenia, which can only complicate the individual efforts of both the United States and Russia to resolve a difficult conflict.  By choosing to visit only one side in these conflicts (e.g., Ukraine, Taiwan, and Armenia), the Biden national security team will have to clean up after her.  The fact that President Joe Biden couldn’t prevent these trips, particularly the provocative one to Taiwan, only highlighted the political weakness of the president.  Chinese leader Xi Jinping presumably took note of that fact.

Going to Yerevan was particularly reckless because violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been percolating once again.  In the late 1980s, the Azeris blockaded rail lines leading into Armenia, and Armenia declared that Nagorno-Karabakh (a disputed region in Azerbaijan that is inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians) would be integrated into the Armenian economy.

As a result of the first war between Armenians and Azeris over the Nagorno-Karabakh, the Karabakh Armenians demanded transferring from Azerbaijan to Armenia. The conflict escalated into a full-scale war in the early 1990s, which became a low-intensity conflict in recent years. Russia played the key role in arranging a tentative armistice in November 2020, which established a cease-fire agreement that returned to Azerbaijan most of the territories lost during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.  In the recent imbroglio, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again played the key role in arranging a cease fire.

Russia typically has been Armenia’s protector in these confrontations in the Caucasus, but Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine has weakened Moscow’s efforts to get involved in conflict resolution, let alone encourage Yerevan to defend itself against forces from Baku.  Pelosi’s unfortunate intervention on behalf of Armenia was at odds with quiet U.S. efforts to reach a cease fire.  Moscow introduced peacekeepers in the region to revolve the conflict in 2020, but Putin’s hand is weaker this time around.  Russia’s preoccupation with Ukraine complicates Putin’s ability to stabilize a regional crisis on his volatile southern rim in the Caucasus.

Pelosi has also complicated Biden’s role by calling on the White House to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.  The terrorist designation would complicate any possible efforts to address a resolution of the war in Ukraine or the current imbroglio in the Caucasus.  The United States should be looking for ways to effect greater cooperation with Russia in order to advance conflict resolution around the world; arms control and disarmament efforts; and easing the consequences of the climate and Covid crises.  The terrorism designation would also lead to secondary sanctions that would drive up global prices and worsen an inflationary situation that could lead to an international recession.

As a result of Pelosi’s meanderings, we now have the worst tensions in the Taiwan Strait in nearly 30 years; greater Ukrainian expectations of expanded U.S. largesse; and a threat to the fragile truce in the Caucasus that Putin has tried to engineer.  Can we look forward to more travel from Pelosi to the tense Central Asian border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where 100 or so were killed in fighting over the past weekend; to the West Bank; or to Northern Ireland, which is facing renewed tensions?  So many crises; so little time.

Melvin Goodman
Melvin Goodman

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His most recent books are “American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump” (Opus Publishing, 2019) and “Containing the National Security State” (Opus Publishing, 2021). Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

9 comments

  1. Good Afternoon Mr. Scheer:

    Melvin Goodman, a former CIA analyst, wrote an interesting column today.

    But I have a question for you.

    Willian F. Pepper, Chalmers Johnson, and other progressive journalists and writers, like yourself, Mr. Scheer, have mentioned for years that the US media (print & TV) arre full of “former” CIA employees – like CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

    Sir, if you want to know why Americans no longer believe the Corporate Media — perhaps all major networks and major cable networks should come clean.

    How many of their so-called “journalists” are in reality former (or present-day) CIA operatives?

    The reason for America’s failures in foreign policy is that the media has become a bullhorn for CIA propaganda.

    Question: How many real “wars” have been won by the US since the end of WWII?

    Answer: NONE.

    OK, I will give you the First Gulf War. But in seventy-five years, the military’s record is pathetic.

    Will we, as Americans, ever have a conversation about our foreign policy?

    Or will we leave it up to Anderson Cooper and Melvin Goodman to get wrong as usual?

    1. I disagree….The vast majority of Americans DO believe MSM news….CNN and FOX are there lifeline.

  2. I fully support the comments made by Dr. Randall Doyle. If I want the CIA propaganda, I can read the Washington Post or the New York Times. I do not expect to read it on Sheerpost.

    Mr. Goodman, the war in Ukraine is the latest US war of aggression, not a “Putin’s senseless war”. I am sure you know this but are just helping to spread the torrent of lies being spread by the US lie machine to sell this illegal US war.

    I am disappointed, once again, that Scheerpost allows this drivel to be posted on this website. Of course, the comments about Pelosi’s provocations are correct. The quality of “US leadership” is abysmal. Is there no one in our government with enough sense to realize that this latest war of aggression has brought us to the brink of nuclear war? I have no confidence that such a single person exists. If so, he/she is not in the White House or the State Department.

  3. It was reported the Pelosi had an Air Force escort when she went to Taiwan. Is not the Air Force under the command of the President? So for Biden to “object” to this visit seems pretty disingenuous, when he could have pulled the plug whenever he wanted. Biden is not a leader, he is a corporate bagman, and we can only hope saner minds prevail and dissuade him from running again.

  4. I believe Melvin is wrong about Pelosi. First off: she’s an idiot who views everything through the lens of her celebrity status. Like Biden, Trump, Bush, etc. she thinks she’s really smart, and thinks very highly of herself. Second: Pelosi definitely wants to be Minority leader. Why? Because she remains in the spotlight, and can pretend to be fighting for things she actually abhors, though she’s not really trying to hide her rightwing, reactionary views. Pelosi’s politics are truncated, immature, and dangerously, stupidly provocative and violent-minded. So she would make a perfect Secretary of State in the Biden Administration. Hopefully, her alcoholism (she appeared to be drunk at the last SOTU, and there have been other incidents where she seemed to be drunk) or her nascent dementia will sideline her. Just a vile and contemptible US politician who has no business traveling anywhere but to a convalescent home.

  5. Any good propaganda article has 50% facts, 50% B.S.

    First, the facts: Nancy Pelosi is well past her sell by date. In 2001 and later, Pelosi was up to her neck with the latter Bush Administration and the forever wars, not to mention the updated interrogation technics. Now, Pelosi is showing her age and having public senior moments. It can be said, Pelosi needs to retire from public duty and enjoy her well-earned corruption cladded millions. For the most part, California is a nice place to live (and retire, if you have enough money).

    It is also true that San Francisco and greater California have groups of people from the world living in the state. Did you know there is a large Russian Community in Los Angeles, California? It’s true, it’s true! If they do not want you to know what they are talking about, they drop the English, and speak Russian. Them Russian’s, are so crafty. Guess I am going to have to add Russian to my Chinese, Japanese, Armenian, Spanish and whatever else wonders in language classes. No wonder the first Blade Runner movie made fun of people who spoke five languages in one sentence. Just so many people in the largest population state of the U.S. Nation.

    To clear up the B.S. If the Biden Administration really did not want Pelosi traveling around the world, they would not provide an Air Force Jet for these excursions. Pelosi would have to do like the rest of us, and make her own travel arrangements. The only time the Speaker of the House is entitled to an Air Force Jet is to travel back and forth to Washington and the home district. (Fun fact, when Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House she did not use the Air Force supplied jet, she used public transportation. The Air Force supplied jet had less than a 4,000-mile cruising range and needed to refuel mid-country, and that was a hassle. That was until 9/11. The Air Force found Pelosi, a non-stop airplane.) The Speaker of the House is not entitled to an airplane any time they say “boo”!

    Since its inception, CIA has been working on becoming more of a policymaking institution. Having a person like Pelosi going around the world doing the CIA’s light work making up history suits the purpose of the establishment. So the CIA gives a big thumbs up, leaving the Biden Administration as an empty suited travel agency. It is so bad, one has to suppose Pelosi did not take history in school or was just a total failure. Anyway, it works for the CIA.

    As far as Russia and Ukraine goes, many people will claim that the U.S. started provoking Russia with the 2014 Maidan Coup. Although, I can say 2014 Maidan coup was a good one, it was not the start. One needs to go back to 1946 when Allen Dulles a.k.a. the CIA slipped Stepan Bandera back into Ukraine under Operation Paperclip. If Allen Dulles, Stepan Bandera, or Operation Paperclip sounds familiar, the book, “The Devil’s Chessboard” would be good reading. Warning, just don’t read it before going to bed at night, it is more like lunchtime with a stiff drink. The biggest take-away here should be, people in the U.S. need to stop thinking that Russia is some Vodka ridden Third World Nation of no goods. True, they have their problems, we have ours. The scary part, the part the New World Order will not tell you is, the problems are similar in nature.

    For a better report than the dibble you just read above, the link below is a better researched and presented. As for, one more swipe at society, the Melvin Goodman report is a classic mind job at its best. To say it clearly, Goodman’s writing is a good example why I do not read CounterPunch anymore.

    The New Atlas: How the US is Using the Azeri-Armenian Conflict to “Extend” Russia (YouTube)
    https://youtu.be/s_B7gigTPC8

    1. Didn’t Counter Punch move to the Right, post GWB, once Obama (a Democrat) was elected, just like the Rachel Maddow crowd?

      1. CounterPunch made several changes over the years in their presentation of world events and the news. For the most, that was not the problem. Hearing from people with different views is an education. The problems begin when people impose their will upon you for their gain and your loss. Using deceit and manipulation is a strong form of imposing one’s will upon another person.

        Let me start with this, most people have a mass of lifetime experiences which give them knowledge and wisdom. With their knowledge and wisdom, people will have tendencies when reacting to situations or ideas, thus all individual reactions will differ from each other. Except for hardened individuals, for whatever reason, we can safely say, most people have tendencies.

        On the other hand, an institution made up of individuals need to be focused to maintain a group of individuals to a particular task. This is what gives an institution its power. Therefore, we can say institution is this or that.

        To compare and contrast a person to an institution, the following can be said: a person can change instantly due to a situation or an idea, whereas, an institution must remain steadfast to retain the group as a force.

        Onto an encapsulated history of CounterPunch. Back in 2006 to 2008 the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. At 2008, there were world changing events and Democrats took the Executive Branch and Congress under the direction of Barack Obama. One of the world events was a massive collapse of the economy which started in the year of 1973. The other was two wars in which governments and corporations lied about the need of these hostilities. CounterPunch added needed voices to their reporting, some of which had libertarian tendencies in foreign affairs. The CounterPunch news pieces were well researched and presented at that time.

        Through the Obama years, CounterPunch held steadfast in the quality of news and opinion pieces. It was in 2016, which many news organizations took a hard look at themselves has to how a failed businessman who steals, and reality games show host whose tag line was, “You’re Fired!” (an idiot with problems) could win the Presidency of the United States. This is when CounterPunch changed, in my opinion, for the worse. One of the major problems was, CounterPunch was not only putting out poorly written articles, many of these articles seemed to be written by the Democratic National Committee plus other government actors.

        Then when COVID-19 came into being, CounterPunch was at a total loss and relied on nefarious actors for their reporting. Now CounterPunch is a mess, they seem to rely on quantity rather than quality for their reporting. More than anything, my belief is Money Interest and Corporate Democrats forced their will into the Public well-being for their own benefit. Unfortunately, CounterPunch was used as a vehicle for that operation.

        I think CounterPunch needs a vacation for their own good.

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