Controversial top appointment unearths divisions among Washington and its allies

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — Shortly after Yale professor and former Obama-era Justice Department official, Fiona Scott Morton, landed the role of the European Commission’s chief competition economist, the knives came out here in FRANCE.

French President Emmanuel Macron led the charge himself. “If we have no (European) researcher of this level to be recruited by the Commission, that means that we have a very big problem with all the European academic systems,” Macron said, evoking the lack of “reciprocity” by countries like the US or China in neglecting to appoint Europeans to positions of similar importance.

The appointment of foreign officials with ties to the Washington establishment isn’t exactly a rampant occurrence around the world, but some instances exist. See if you can detect the pattern.

Americans, and top backers of Washington’s road map, have a history of landing key positions in Ukraine after express naturalizations. Mikhail Saakashvili, former pro-NATO Georgian president, who was naturalized Ukrainian to become governor of the Odessa region in 2015, had overseen the same kind of NATO-led operation in Georgia against Russia that’s now taking place in Ukraine. Ulana Suprun, an active participant in Euromaidan, the Western-backed Ukrainian revolution of 2014, was naturalized in 2015 and appointed Ukrainian deputy minister of health in 2016. American Natalie Ann Jaresko, was appointed Ukrainian minister of finance in 2014 and naturalized the same day — all on the wake of serving as an economics adviser for the US State Department.

Last year, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the since-scuttled Disinformation Governance Board under the Department of Homeland Security, American citizen Nina Jankowicz, had previously “advised the Ukrainian government on strategic communications under the auspices of a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship,” according to her biography.

Elsewhere, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik served as Minister of the Interior of Iraq for a few months in the wake of that US-led regime-change operation.

It’s hard to ignore the stench of regime change wafting around all of these appointments. And in Ukraine’s case, there’s evidence that it’s not exactly a coincidence. Current Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, was caught in a recording, later transcribed and published by the BBC amid the 2014 Euromaidan Western-backed regime-change efforts in Ukraine, discussing with Washington’s ambassador to Ukraine who should be appointed to the new government in the wake of those regime change efforts, which were designed to purge pro-Russian interests.

A history of Trojan Horses suggests that European leaders interested in maintaining whatever sovereignty and independence that Europe has left vis-à-vis the US might be adverse to the EU appointment of an American economist with ties to both Washington and Silicon Valley, who also served as an enforcer of US economic competition and antitrust laws. Europe has enough problems competing with the US as it is, after cutting itself off from cheap Russian fuel and now struggling to afford its American energy replacements.

Long before Macron came along, France had a long history of being a bee in Washington’s bonnet on the competitive global landscape. The French-headquartered Airbus is the only real competitor to Boeing’s civil aviation market, and their rivalry has been littered with low blows and dirty tricks. France was Washington’s rival due to projects like the state-backed nuclear energy projects led by former President Charles De Gaulle and the development and deployment of the Minitel computer terminal in the 1980s that predated the American internet.

France’s economic competitiveness is also a reason why former President Bill Clinton, by the mid-’90s had ordered US intelligence to pivot to economic espionage — resulting in the roll-up and expulsion of the CIA’s Paris bureau in 1995, as detailed in a report by the inspector general for the agency the following year.

Given this history, it’s hardly surprising that France would raise an eyebrow at this latest appointment. What’s even more interesting is the prominent European country that didn’t oppose the appointment: Germany. “I think it’s fair to say that the United States has no better partner, no better friend in the world than Germany,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said back in 2021 on a visit to Berlin. He may have a point. After all, who else besides a good pal would just stand there beside Biden, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz did, when Biden announced, prior to the Ukraine conflict, that if Russia went into Ukraine, the Nord Stream pipeline network full of Russian fuel allowing Europe’s economic engine, Germany, to compete industrially with the US, would simply cease to exist — then shrug after it gets mysteriously blown up a few months later.

There’s a long-standing tiff between Germany and France involving Paris’ insistence on maintaining nuclear power and energy independence against Germany’s efforts to kill it in favor of renewables that are far from ready for prime time. But, of course, the “green” agenda is what Washington is constantly pushing. And where Washington goes, Germany always seems to follow. With dozens of military bases and US nuclear weapons stored in Germany, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, it’s hardly surprising that Berlin failed to join France in opposing a move that called into question European independence when it risked offending Washington.