National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is arguably the key person driving US foreign policy. He was mentored by Hillary Clinton with regime changes in Honduras, Libya and Syria. He was the link between Nuland and Biden during the 2014 coup in Ukraine. As reported by Seymour Hersh, Sullivan led the planning of the Nord Stream pipelines destruction in September 2022. Sullivan guides or makes many large and small foreign policy decisions. This article will describe Jake Sullivan’s background, what he says, what he has been doing, where the US is headed and why this should be debated.
Jake Sullivan was born in November 1976. He describes his formative years like this:
"I was raised in Minnesota in the 1980s, a child of the later Cold War – of Rocky IV, the Miracle on Ice, and ‘Tear down this wall’. The 90s were my high school and college years. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Iron Curtain disappeared. Germany was reunified. An American-led alliance ended a genocide in Bosnia and prevented one in Kosovo. I went to graduate school in England and gave fiery speeches on the floor of the Oxford Union about how the United States was a force for good in the world."
Sullivan’s education includes Yale (BA), Oxford (MA) and Yale again (JD). He went quickly from academic studies and legal work to political campaigning and government.
Sullivan made important contacts during his college years at elite institutions. For example, he worked with former Deputy Secretary of State and future Brookings Institution president, Strobe Talbott. After a few years clerking for judges, Sullivan transitioned to a law firm in his hometown of Minneapolis. He soon became chief counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar who connected him to the rising Senator Hillary Clinton.
Mentored by Hillary
Sullivan became a key adviser to Hillary Clinton in her campaign to be Democratic party nominee in 2008. At age 32, Jake Sullivan became deputy chief of staff and director of policy planning when she became secretary of state. He was her constant companion, traveling with her to 112 countries.
The Clinton/Sullivan foreign policy was soon evident. In Honduras, Clinton clashed with progressive Honduras President Manuel Zelaya over whether to re-admit Cuba to the OAS. Seven weeks later, on June 28, Honduran soldiers invaded the president’s home and kidnapped him out of the country, stopping en route at the US Air Base. The coup was so outrageous that even the US ambassador to Honduras denounced it. This was quickly overruled as the Clinton/Sullivan team played semantics games to say it was a coup but not a "military coup." Thus the Honduran coup regime continued to receive US support. They quickly held a dubious election to make the restoration of President Zelaya "moot". Clinton is proud of this success in her book "Hard Choices."
Two years later the target was Libya. With Victoria Nuland as State Department spokesperson, the Clinton/Sullivan team promoted sensational claims of a pending massacre and urged intervention in Libya under the "responsibility to protect." When the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone to protect civilians, the US, Qatar and other NATO members distorted that and started air attacks on Libyan government forces. Today, 12 years later, Libya is still in chaos and war. The sensational claims of 2011 were later found to be false.
When the Libyan government was overthrown in Fall 2011, the Clinton/Sullivan State Department and CIA plotted to seize the Libyan weapons arsenal. Weapons were transferred to the Syrian opposition. US Ambassador Stevens and other Americans were killed in an internecine conflict over control of the weapons cache.
Undeterred, Clinton and Sullivan stepped up their attempts to overthrow the Syrian government. They formed a club of western nations and allies called the "Friends of Syria." The "Friends" divided tasks who would do what in the campaign to topple the sovereign state. Former policy planner at the Clinton/Sullivan State Department, Ann Marie Slaughter, called for "foreign military intervention." Sullivan knew they were arming violent sectarian fanatics to overthrow the Syrian government. In an email to Hillary released by WikiLeaks, Sullivan noted "AQ is on our side in Syria."
Biden’s Adviser During the 2014 Ukraine Coup
After being Clinton’s policy planner, Sullivan became President Obama’s director of policy planning (Feb 2011 to Feb 2013) then national security adviser to Vice President Biden (Feb 2013 to August 2014).
In his position with Biden, Sullivan had a close-up view of the February 2014 Ukraine coup. He was a key contact between Victoria Nuland, overseeing the coup, and Biden. In the secretly recorded conversation where Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine discuss how to manage the coup, Nuland remarks that Jake Sullivan told her "you need Biden." Biden gave the "attaboy" and the coup was "midwifed" following a massacre of police AND protesters on the Maidan plaza.
Sullivan must have observed Biden’s use of the vice president’s position for personal family gain. He would have been aware of Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of the Burisima Ukrainian energy company, and the reason Joe Biden demanded that the Ukrainian special prosecutor who was investigating Burisima to be fired. Biden later bragged and joked about this.
In December 2013, at a conference hosted by Chevron Corporation, Victoria Nuland said the US has spent five BILLION dollars to bring "democracy" to Ukraine.
Sullivan Helped Create Russiagate
Jake Sullivan was a leading member of the 2016 Hillary Clinton team which promoted Russiagate. The false claim that Trump was secretly contacting Russia was promoted initially to distract from negative news about Hillary Clinton and to smear Trump as a puppet of Putin. Both the Mueller and Durham investigations officially discredited the main claims of Russiagate. There was no collusion. The accusations were untrue, and the FBI gave them unjustified credence for political reasons.
Sullivan played a major role in the deception as shown by his "Statement from Jake Sullivan on New Report Exposing Trump’s Secret Line of Communication to Russia."
Jake Sullivan is a good speaker, persuasive and with a dry sense of humor. At the same time, he can be disingenuous. Some of his statements are false. For example, in June 2017 Jake Sullivan was interviewed by Frontline television program about US foreign policy and especially US-Russia relations. Regarding NATO’s overthrow of the Libyan government, Sullivan says, "Putin came to believe that the United States had taken Russia for a ride in the UN Security Council that authorized the use of force in Libya…. He thought he was authorizing a purely defensive mission…. Now on the actual language of the resolution, it’s plain as day that Putin was wrong about that." Contrary to what Sullivan claims, the UN Security Council resolution clearly authorizes a no-fly zone for the protection of civilians, no more. It’s plain as day there was NOT authorization for NATO’s offensive attacks and "regime change."
Planning the Nord Stream Pipeline Destruction
The bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines, filled with 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas, was a monstrous environmental disaster. The destruction also caused huge economic damage to Germany and other European countries. It has been a boon for US liquefied natural gas exports which have surged to fill the gap, but at a high price. Many European factories dependent on cheap gas have closed down. Tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs.
Seymour Hersh reported details of How America Took Out the Nord Stream Pipeline. He says, "Biden authorized Jake Sullivan to bring together an interagency group to come up with a plan." A sabotage plan was prepared and officials in Norway and Denmark included in the plot. The day after the sabotage, Jake Sullivan tweeted
"I spoke to my counterpart Jean-Charles Ellermann-Kingombe of Denmark about the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines. The U.S. is supporting efforts to investigate and we will continue our work to safeguard Europe’s energy security."
Ellerman-Kingombe may have been one of the Danes informed in advance of the bombing. He is close to the US military and NATO command.
Since then, the Swedish investigation of Nord Stream bombing has made little progress. Contrary to Sullivan’s promise in the tweet, the US has not supported other efforts to investigate. When Russia proposed an independent international investigation of the Nord Stream sabotage at the UN Security Council, the resolution failed due to lack of support from the US and US allies. Hungary’s foreign minister recently asked,
“How on earth is it possible that someone blows up critical infrastructure on the territory of Europe and no one has a say, no one condemns, no one carries out an investigation?”
Economic Plans Devoid of Reality
Ten weeks ago Jake Sullivan delivered a major speech on "Renewing American Economic Leadership" at the Brookings Institution. He explains how the Biden administration is pursuing a "modern industrial and innovation strategy." They are trying to implement a "foreign policy for the middle class" which better integrates domestic and foreign policies. The substance of their plan is to increase investments in semiconductors, clean energy minerals and manufacturing. However the new strategy is very unlikely to achieve the stated goal to "lift up all of America’s people, communities, and industries." Sullivan’s speech completely ignores the elephant in the room: the costly US Empire including wars and 800 foreign military bases which consume about 60% of the total discretionary budget. Under Biden and Sullivan’s foreign policy, there is no intention to rein in the extremely costly military industrial complex. It is not even mentioned.
US Exceptionalism 2.0
In December 2018 Jake Sullivan wrote an essay titled "American Exceptionalism, Reclaimed." It shows his foundational beliefs and philosophy. He separates himself from the "arrogant brand of exceptionalism" demonstrated by Dick Cheney. He also criticizes the "American first" policies of Donald Trump. Sullivan advocates for "a new American exceptionalism" and "American leadership in the 21st Century."
Sullivan has a shallow Hollywood understanding of history: "The United States stopped Hitler’s Germany, saved Western Europe from economic ruin, stood firm against the Soviet Union, and supported the spread of democracy worldwide." He believes "The fact that the major powers have not returned to war with one another since 1945 is a remarkable achievement of American statecraft."
Jake Sullivan is young in age but his ideas are old. The United States is no longer dominant economically or politically. It is certainly not "indispensable." More and more countries are objecting to US bullying and defying Washington’s demands. Even key allies such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are ignoring US requests. The trend toward a multipolar world is escalating. Jake Sullivan is trying to reverse the trend but reality and history are working against him. Over the past four or five decades, the US has gone from being an investment, engineering and manufacturing powerhouse to a deficit spending consumer economy waging perpetual war with a bloated military industrial complex.
Instead of reforming and rebuilding the US, the national security state expends much of its energy and resources trying to destabilize countries deemed to be "adversaries".
Previous national security advisers Henry Kissinger and Zbignew Brzezinski were very influential.
Kissinger is famous for wooing China and dividing the communist bloc. Jake Sullivan is now wooing India in hopes of dividing that country from China and the BRICS alliance (Brazil,Russia, India, China, South Africa).
Brzezinski is famous for plotting the Afghanistan trap. By destabilizing Afghanistan with foreign terrorists beginning 1978, the US induced the Soviet Union to send troops to Afghanistan at the Afghan government’s request. The result was the collapse of the progressive Afghan government, the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and 40 years of war and chaos.
On 28 February 2022, just four days after Russian troops entered Ukraine, Jake Sullivan’s mentor, Hillary Clinton, was explicit: "Afghanistan is the model." It appears the US intentionally escalated the provocations in Ukraine to induce Russia to intervene. The goal is to "weaken Russia." This explains why the US has spent over $100 billion sending weapons and other support to Ukraine. This explains why the US and UK undermined negotiations which could have ended the conflict early on.
The Americans who oversaw the 2014 coup in Kiev, are the same ones running US foreign policy today: Joe Biden, Victoria Nuland and Jake Sullivan. Prospects for ending the Ukraine war are very poor as long as they are in power.
Rick Sterling is a journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be contacted at RSterling1@gmail.com.