Ukraine's Jaresko, Biden Are Harbingers of Neo-Liberal Order. Corporate Exploitation

Neo-liberal democracy in action: negotiating with the IMF, Washington on behalf of Ukrainians' interests is a former State Department employee, Natalie Jaresko

Mon, Dec 15, 2014
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Never better

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at Salon


Long ago, an English diplomat in Tokyo wrote to his Foreign Office in London:

“The Japanese can neither love the Americans nor endure being loved by them.” 

It is dead on the fate of Ukrainians so far as one can make out. All signs are they are in for the suffocating embrace. Here comes the neoliberal order. It will be very weird to watch.

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My jaw hit the corner of my desk when I read last week that Ukraine’s new finance minister, one Natalie Jaresko, is:

  1. An American citizen, granted a Ukraine passport simultaneously with her cabinet appointment
  2. A former State Department officer,
  3. Recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in that $5 billion Victoria Nuland famously bragged of spending in State’s effort to yank Ukraine westward
  4. A participant in apparently extensive insider dealing via the investment management company she co-founded after leaving State.

Get this:

Jaresko served as president and chief executive officer of Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development with $150 million to spur business activity in Ukraine.

She also was co-founder and managing partner of Horizon Capital, which managed WNISEF’s investments at a rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent of committed capital, fees exceeding $1 million in recent years, according to WNISEF’s 2012 annual report.

Her title at Horizon Capital must be CCIO, chief conflict of interest officer.

Full credit, given with gusto: The above passage is from the long exposé of this sordid business by Robert Parry, whose work on Ukraine is invaluable.

Read this piece here: a riveting read covering a tangled web.

Parry, in turn, cites John Hellmer, a former Moscow correspondent who recently explored Jaresko’s story as State Department official (and diplomat in post-Soviet Kiev) turned recipient of USAID funds.

Surely this is the right person to regulate Ukraine’s financial markets, counter corruption with archangelic purpose and negotiate with Washington, the Europeans and the IMF in behalf of Ukrainians’ interests. No wonder the parliament in Kiev erupted when Jaresko’s appointment was announced.

Footnote here: That $150 million fund State handed Jaresko has lost more than a third of its value since the Ukrainian economy tanked. As she steps into office, Kiev’s foreign reserves are down to $10 billion and shrinking, while inflation roars at 22 percent.

My jaw has been bruised, to be honest, since, as the Ukraine crisis got hot, Vice President Biden’s son, R. Hunter, was named to the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s No. 1 producer of natural gas. I cannot make out who is the chief conflict of interest officer here, Joe or the boy.

News comes of our Hunter, it turns out. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that he was bounced from the U.S. Navy Reserve earlier this year after a positive drug test. If the 44-year-old were Ukrainian (or any other nationality) and had been so charged, he would not be allowed into this country. This is the kind of person America is now happy to send abroad.

More substantively, Burisma announced last month that it will now commence drilling near Slavyansk, where Ukrainian troops have been dodging bullets while installing the company’s hydraulic fracturing equipment. Slavyansk, alert readers will recall, was the object of three months’ sustained bombing and artillery shelling prior to this announcement.

Overseeing all this is Jaresko and — second of three foreigners named to a new cabinet — Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuanian and a partner in an asset-management firm called East Capital. He will be the incoming economy minister, such as there is an economy.

Why these foreigners? In my read, Biden is a straight-out emissary sent to shepherd American corporations into the resource game via joint ventures or what have you, we will have to see, and the others are roughly the equivalent of compradors — in effect, bought-off locals.

Here is a tableau worth a moment’s consideration: Over here, Vicky Nuland stands before a Chevron plaque as she explains to business executives how well the $5 billion was spent.

Here we have Hunter Biden doing Burisma’s legal work. Over here we have a small-town mayor in Romania who is run out of town for selling Chevron a fracking lease. (This you can read of in the Times.) And over there, also in the Times report, we have the Lithuanians forcing Chevron to abandon a shale-drilling project after widespread demonstrations opposing it.

You want to know why I hold the neoliberal agenda and those who advance it in contempt? This is why. We watch a corporate shark-feed. It has nothing to do with democracy. There is nothing in this for Ukrainians. They are about to hear their first lectures on the virtues of “austerity.”

I have three remarks.

One, the greed at the cost of human life and society is so brazen here it causes me to stop typing to reread the sentences. Can market-consciousness have brought us this low?

Two, please count the number of times you have read the words “Chevron,” “Burisma” or “shale-gas interests” in any account of Ukraine by correspondents covering it. I can find no mention of any from those in the field. This is “the power of leaving out,” as I often put it, in spades. I rest the case (for now).

Three, there is a deeper tragedy. Ukrainians live between East and West. This is not only a matter of geography: There is among them a mix of Eastern consciousness and Western consciousness.

Accordingly, they had a chance to stand as the very best the new century offers us, a planet whose old divisions could be erased in favor of a more fulsome idea of the successful society and its potential.

This chance is now all but lost — destroyed by those who resisted it.

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