Recently, the bulk of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv relocated to the Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine. And yesterday, it was reported that U.S. diplomatic staff would be removed from this temporary embassy and sent to Poland overnight, possibly to return to their temporary offices in Lviv later.
This morning, our U.S. embassy to Ukraine sent out this meme — a popular one among Ukrainians –which is meant to troll Russians:
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) February 22, 2022
This is all very embarrassing. Any thinking person with a passing familiarity of the issues at stake would know that Russians see this meme as a confirmation of Vladimir Putin’s contention that Kievan Rus is the cradle of Russian civilization — which, well, it is. But I no longer believe thinking people run the state department.
Abandoning the embassy in Kyiv is a mistake. It signals weakness. It removes a small but significant deterrent for attacking Ukraine’s capital. And most of all, it deprives American nationals in Ukraine of the regular use of services our State Department is supposed to provide for them, especially in times of emergency. State Department personnel are supposed to know and accept the risks of their service to their country. I can’t help but think of the fact that the Chinese maintained at least some regular presence at their embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, until the moment our CIA bombed it. Think of how few Chinese nationals would have been in Serbia at the time of that conflict, compared to the number of Americans currently in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine.
As a conservative, it’s impossible not to recognize a pattern. Our State Department seems to have completely abandoned any traditional concepts of statecraft and geopolitical power. As my friend Joshua Trevino observed to me, contemplating this stupid meme, it amounts to a “fool’s exhibition of what narrative dominance actually entails” because their “template for competitive existence is the modern American political campaign. ”
The State Department spends an inordinate amount of time promoting progressive values, such as flying pride flags in the few European countries that have not yet legally recognized same sex marriage, or holding seminars on diversity. It justifies this by identifying progressive values with the mission of the American nation itself. In Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department quite literally privileged following its own strict observance of Covid rules over saving people from certain death from the Taliban. A nation as powerful as ours, which has ( I often think foolishly) pledged itself as a guarantor of security for over 1 billion people on this planet, cannot afford to have a supercilious and glib department of state. Our diplomatic missions are well-funded, but our personnel too often lack the shrewdness, tact, and in this case, bravery to do the job properly.