Volume 30, Number 4

Remember These Names

Fred Schepartz

Remember the name Marie Yovanovitch.

Remember the names Jennifer Williams, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Tim Morrison, William Taylor, George Kent and of course, Fiona Hill.

These career civil servants are well accustomed to working in the background, with the general public knowing little or nothing about who they are and what they do. These names are well-familiar to us now because of the Impeachment Hearings, but even in these historic times, we know the memory fades.

So I say, remember these names. These are ambassadors and diplomats with the State Department. These are National Security Council experts and analysts. These are highly talented and accomplished people.

These are people for whom duty is the overriding concern. And that duty is to serving their country even if it means publicly testifying against those in government who put their own interests above the country and the Constitution. They swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and they meant it.

Contrast this with a President who clearly orchestrated a scheme to withhold aide to an ally in an attempt to solicit a bribe in the name of bringing up dirt against a potential political rival, as well as “clearing” Russia over its manipulation of the 2016 election. Contrast this with whatever the hell Giuliani was doing with Lev and Igor, who paid him $500,000 for doing who knows what.

Yovanovitch, Williams, Vindman, Morrison, Taylor, Kent and Hill saw firsthand what was happening. They deeply understood that the Administration was riding a two-headed horse of diplomitics. As Yovanovich explained, there were two Ukraine policies. Nothing good can come of such a situation.

Unlike the President and his inner circle, these people understand and care deeply about protecting their country’s interests by maintaining established foreign policy. In this case, that was supposed to mean standing up for Ukraine as it essentially fights a war against Russia on its own soil.

From a foreign policy standpoint, this makes absolute sense. Russia is not an ally. Russia is not a friend. It might be a stretch to call Russia an enemy, but Russia is certainly a rival. As Yovanovitch, Williams, Vindman, Morrison, Taylor, Kent and Hill explained with great clarity, letting Russia run amok is a bad idea. Supporting an independent and less-corrupt Ukraine, well, is probably a good idea.

Oh, and let’s not forget, as Hill warned, the notion that Ukraine was behind the manipulation of the 2016 is a dangerous fiction. This is propaganda that serves to benefit Russia.

“This is a fictional narrative,” Hill said.

The personal narratives of some of these foreign policy professionals speaks volumes about them and their sense of duty. Vindman is a Jew who was born in Ukraine in what was then the Soviet Union. Facing persecution for being Jews, his family moved to the United States when he was three years old.

Hill’s British accent identifies her as coming from coal country. As she said in her opening statement, “I grew up poor with a very distinctive working-class accent. In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.”

Yovanovich was born in Canada. Her mother fled the Soviet Union and later the Nazis.

As Vindman said, in Russia it would not have been safe for him to give testimony. His loyalty to his country is due to his knowledge that he need not fear for his life for telling the truth.

The example of these three immigrants should be an inspiration, but yet they faced furious attacks. Vindman’s loyalty was questioned. Fox News commentators went so far as to accuse him of espionage, claiming he served as an agent for Ukraine.

As we know, Yovanovich suffered under a whisper campaign while serving as ambassador to Ukraine. Giuliani orchestrated the dissemination of slander against her. She returned to the United States after being warned that she was in danger.

And yet she persisted.

During the deposition-taking stage, Yovanovich was one of the major figures to testify, despite the fact that she received a phone call the night before ordering her not to testify. One can only guess what kind of threats were expressed during the phone call.

She did not flinch.

Character assassination against her continued, which included utterly absurd claims. Trump attacked her with Tweets while she testified in an open hearing.

Republicans thought they could make her cry. I guess they didn’t get the memo that it is Republican men who cry when getting grilled by a Congressional committee.

It has become quite fashionable to attack the so-called Deep State and claim that it staging a coup against Trump. This could not be further from the truth. The reality of the situation is that those who constitute the Deep State are career civil servants who the Administration distrusts because their loyalty is toward the Constitution, not Trump himself. A narcissistic autocrat with the emotional age of 10, Trump cannot abide by such a thing.

The simple fact of the matter is that empires cannot function in the long-term without career civil servants. Somehow bureaucrat has become a four-letter word, but large, powerful nations cannot function without them. This has been true since the Roman Empire.

The knowledge, expertise and experience of these civil servants is irreplaceable. Try to imagine an administration essentially reinventing the wheel every four years.

But duty-bound civil servants who observe the rule of law are an inconvenience. When Mark Sandy of the Office of Management and Budget questioned the legality of withholding Congressionally allocated funds to the Ukraine, Presidential appointee and former Wisconsin Republican Party Chair Mike Duffey stepped in and personally handled the withholding of funds, literally an unprecedented move.

Sandy resigned.

I would be remiss if I failed to express a certain degree of discomfort in singing the praise of patriotic Americans, given that Mobius is not a place where one would see a great deal of flag-waving. Myself, I tend not to be highly patriotic. I do respect our Constitution and wish our elected officials would give it more respect.

And while I do have a great deal of respect for Yovanovitch, Williams, Vindman, Morrison, Taylor, Kent and Hill, I cannot necessarily forgive the role they play in U.S. foreign policy.

Since World War II, American foreign policy has been largely a bi-partisan strategy of asserting hegemony all over the world, and it is the diplomatic corps and natural security apparatus that is out there doing the dirty work, be it staging coups in Guatemala, Iran and Chile. Be it campaigns of assassination all over the world. Be it Vietnam. Be it Iraq.

Taylor served in Vietnam after graduating from West Point. I doubt he questioned the validity of that war. Vindman served in the Iraq War. I would ask the same thing.

All of that said, I do believe it is possible to have a sane and reasonable foreign policy. We can represent our interests in a fair and honorable way. We can help those who need help. We can protect those who need protection. We can attempt to avoid futile and pointless wars.

Generally, politicians set policy, and civil servants play an important role in implementing policy. If we want a sane and reasonable foreign policy, we need to select representatives who agree with that notion.

And we need legions of people like Marie Yovanovich, people with a profound sense of duty and honor.

Remember the name Marie Yovanovich.


This fall marked 30 years since I started Mobius. I started this publication because I wanted to create a place where writers would be treated the way I myself as a writer wanted to be treated. I also wanted it to be a place where art and politics can peacefully co-exist. I like to think I have succeeded. Certainly, it has been a rewarding experience, especially with the rise of the internet, which allowed for submissions from all over the world and a global reach for our circulation, a far cry from that first issue where I printed maybe 100 copies and sold maybe 10 or 20.

Much thanks to all of you for your support over these 30 years. I hope we have served you well.