Archive for the ‘History’ Category

REPRISE: Overt Russian military invasion of the Ukraine underway; West must impose harsh stage 3 sanctions immediately

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

In the last five days, following new incursions by the regular armed forces of Russia including one to the South toward Mariupol, and the much-anticipated Minsk meeting (in a group) between Vladimir Putin and Petro Petroshenko, nothing has changed.

The analysis and recommendations republshed below have lost none of their urgency.

*****

Originally published on August 22, 2014

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

The Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine by regular Russian forces in underway. Russian artillery manned by Russian soldiers is today firing on Ukrainian troops from within the Ukraine.

See

(1) Michael R. Gordon, “Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says,. New York Times, August 22, 2014.

(2) NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “Statement”, August 22, 2014. See NATO, “NATO Secretary General condemns entry of Russian convoy into Ukraine,” August 22, 2014.

(3) “Russische Soldaten sollen in Ukraine kämpfen; Russische Streitkräfte haben laut Nato-Angaben die ukrainische Armee beschossen. Das Militärbündnis warnt vor einer Eskalation, am Abend tagt der UN-Sicherheitsrat, ” Die Zeit, 22. August 2014 (Aktualisiert um 20:59 Uhr).

The Russian “humanitarian aid” convoy of up to 280 trucks has entered into the Ukraine without Ukrainian authorization.

While posing a direct threat to the Ukraine, the larger function of the truck convoy may turn out to have been to serve as a decoy, distracting the West’s attention from the direct invasion of the Ukraine by the Russian mikitary, moving at night across the border along unnarked dirt tracks or through open fields.

The invasion is pretty much on target for the 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968. It signals the outbreak of an outright war between Russia and the Ukraine.

What can the West and other civilized nations do?

First, they must impose really harsh stage 3 (third-stage) sanctions against Russia.

Only the execution of prior threats will give any future threats the slighest credence.

These measures must include immediate cancellation of all defense contracts, including the French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia, and a cessation of French training of Russian sailors to operate them which is currently underway in France.

The imposition of these sanctions is the only step that might contribute to ending the war.

Failure to impose these threatened sanctions now will undermine all those in Russia who may be arguing for an end to the invasion and in favor of maintenance of economic relations with the West.

Second, large and serious military assistance to the Ukraine should commence at once.

Third, accelerated decisions regarding the forward-basing of NATO forces in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania; and termination or at least total suspension of the NATO-Russia partnership agreement, which Russia has flagrantly breached.

Europe and America must wake up, take a hard look at the realities of the Russian invasion, and react accordingly.

NATO, which was founded to deter Soviet aggression in Europe, must now prove that there are reasons for its continued existence. If it does not react now, it will be too late when the Russians begin further “stealth invasions” in the Baltics.

It is time to turn away from the path of appeasement, and to start defending the values of the West, including the U.N. Charter and the rule of law–on both the international and the domestic levels.

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

As was the case with Adolf Hitler.

The Trenchant Observer

The Budapest Memorandum (1994) and the Ukraine: Worth Re-reading

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The key provisions of the 1994 Budapest Mmorandum guaranteeing the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of the Ukraine, signed upon the latter’s accession to the Non-proliferation Treaty, is worth re-reading now, in the context of Russia’s invasions of the Crimea (and its annexation) and of the eastern Ukraine (ongoing).

To be sure, the provisions of the Budapest Memorandum incorporate fundamental provisions of the United Nations Charter and international law, including the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, and the prohibition of intervention by any means in the internal affairs of another state in order to to obtain from it economic advantages of any kind.

Still, Russia solemnly undertook to observe the following provisions specifically with respect to the Ukraine.

The reader can be the judge as to the extent Putin and Russia have complied with the following legal commitments.

************

Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America,

Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,
Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,
Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the cold war, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces,
Confirm the following:
1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;
2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or
political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;
3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine,
in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

The Trenchant Observer

Putin redraws the map of Europe with Russian troops, as Western leaders slumber through the summer of appeasement of 2014

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Western leaders, caught in the incapacitating net of their own illusions about Russia, and their own deep-seated pacifism and appeasement, are in effect slumbering through the summer of 2014, as the map of Europe is being redrawn by Russian troops.

One of the first tenets of warfare, and diplomacy, is “know your enemy”. The West does not yet recognize the true features of the enemy that Russia has become.

Vladimir Putin has, from his perspective, succeeded brilliantly in executing his war of aggression and annexation against the Ukraine.

A judo master, he has shown extreme deftness at throwing feints and converting his opponents lunges into throws leaving him standing triumphant and his opponent on his back across the room.

He delights in turning the arguments made or almost made by the West in other conflicts on their head, and using them to his advantage. Thus he now argues that delivery of “humanitarian aid” to the separatists in the Donbass is consistent with international law, as the West argued or might have argued in Syria, when Russia backed Bashar al-Ashad to the hilt in blocking U.N. convoys of humanitarian aid.

He is a master of deception, launching the great “humanitarian aid” convoy of 280 trucks painted white from Moscow, enticing the world to devote its attention to the convoy — for days — while other columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers and other equipment and fighters penetrated into the Ukraine in the middle of the night.

Another diversion of our attention occurred yesterday, when he allowed and probably organized the despicable parading of captured Ukrainian soldiers before crowds on Ukrainian independence day — a blatant war crime in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War.

While this spectacle was proceeding, and Russia announced it was sending another white-truck “humanitarian aid” convoy to the Ukraine, reports emerged of new military columns moving into the Ukraine suggesting the Russian-led and supported counter-offensive now had Mariupol firmly in its sights.

See,

Olga Razumovskaya, “Russia Plans New Aid Convoy; Ukraine Says Moscow Moved Tanks; Kiev Says Moscow Sent Tanks, Armored Vehicles Into Its Territory,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2014 (Updated 4:40 p.m. ET).

Amid signs of sharpening fighting in Ukraine’s east, Kiev said Moscow Monday sent a column of tanks and armored vehicles into its territory near the site of a rebel offensive. Ukraine’s military said it attacked the column and blocked its advance, but Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko expressed “extreme concern” about the armored column and Russia’s plans for a new convoy in a phone conversation with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, his office said.

After surrounding the provincial capitals of Donetsk and Luhansk, officials in Kiev said Monday that Ukrainian troops were now fighting off counterattacks. On Ukraine’s southern coast, rebels said they were pushing their way out of Donetsk toward Mariupol, a port city taken from rebels in mid-June in the first big victory by Ukrainian government troops.

Vladimir Putin has brilliantly probed and withdrawn, and probed again, until he found opportunities to advance his military invasion of the Ukraine in little starts and stops, always taking care to avoid the devastating economic sanctions that the West has in its hands the power to use.

Putin is keenly attentive to the reactions of the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West, and has been shrewdly effective in defusing any momentum toward the imposition of really harsh sanctions.

The President of Russia has given new meaning to the expression “the salami technique”, which in the past referred to the salami slicing approach of the Soviet Union in seizing power in the countries of Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1949.

In the Putin version, we now have military invasion by “the salami technique”. Sending in a few tanks here, a few soldiers there, intensifying the invasion when the West is distracted, looking the other way, or not looking at all (as with President Obama on his long-sheduled vacation to Martha’s Vineyard).

At the end of the day, a lot of salami has been sliced up. Russia has intervened militarily in the Ukraine to prevent the so-called “separatist” forces (which it has itself been sending in) from being defeated by the Ukrainian military, as the latter legitimately seeks to restore public order in the Donbass.

After the invasion of the Crimea, the reaction of the West was, first, to publicly rule out the use of force, and, second, to slap the wrists of Russia by imposing rsestrictive measures on a handful of individuals and one or two banks.

Putin then annexed the Crimea.

In response, the West signalled that it would ultimately accept this annexation, if only Putin would not invade the remaining part of the Ukraine and stop supporting the “separatists”.

Putin held off on overt military intervention (for the time being), but continued to send fighters and equipment, including advanced air-defense systems, into the Donbass.

After the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17, the EU did adopt its first limited “stage 3″ sectoral sanctions. They, like the U.S. sanctions, were still mild in relation to the harm they sought to redress.

In response, in addition to counter-sanctions banning the importation of foodstuffs, Putin devised his white truck “humanitarian aid” ploy, while at the same time sending regular Russian troops including tanks and artillery into the Dunbass. He also fired Russian artillery across the border against targets in the Ukraine (a development in progress for weeks). The artillery shelling effectively secured an open border and a band some 20-40 kilometers deep in the Ukraine. This kept Ukrainian forces from sealing the border, leaving the area under “separatist” control.

To this overt invasion by regular forces, the West did not respond at all, except for Angela Merkel’s trip to Kiev on Saturday, August 23, and her pledge of 500 million euros to help in reconstruction of the Donbass.

Belatedly, on August 22, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen denounced the movement of regular forces into the Ukraine and the firing of Russian artillery by Russian soldiers from within the Ukraine. But the announcement was not accompanied by any action, other than a statement that NATO’s rotating presence in countries bordering Russia would be increased.

As Russia’s overt invasion continued, without provoking even the adoption of additional “stage 3″ sanctions by Europe or the U.S. in response, Putin sent new military columns into the Ukraine which crossed the border closer to Mariupol to the South.

From the Russian perspective, President Putin has brilliantly demonstrated the power of the new Russian “stealth mode of warfare”.

Given the continuing pacifism and appeasement of the West, and as the new incursion nearer Mariupol suggests, Putin may now see no obstacle to an invasion (whether all-out or by “the salami technique”) of the territory between Russia and the Crimea, securing direct land access to the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

Achievement of this objective would constitute a key military and strategic triumph — one for the history books.

Poland and Lithuania, which sit between Russia and its exclave Kaliningrad, will be paying close attention.

Western leaders, caught in the incapacitating net of their own illusions about Russia, and their own deep-seated pacifism and appeasement, are in effect slumbering through the summer of 2014, as the map of Europe is being redrawn by Russian troops.

The Trenchant Observer

Karzai reportedly involved in massive fraud favoring Ghani in Afghan presidential run-off

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Stunning details of the massive fraud in the Afghan presidental run-off election have been published in the New York Times, in an article by veteran Afghan correspondent Carlotta Gall.

It appears that President Hamid Karzai was deeply involved in the fraud, which greatly and implausibly favored Ashraf Ghani, as his opponent Abdullah Abdullah has charged since shortly after the second-round election was held.

See

(1) “Leading Afghan presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, narrowly escapes assassination in Kabul,” The Trenchant Observer, June 6, 2014.

(2) “Afghanistan Presidential Election: Abdullah Calls for Halt to Vote-Counting Alleging Fraud by the Electoral Commission,” The Trenchant Observer, dJune 18, 2014.

(3) “Obama Snubs Abdullah During Latter’s Trip to Washington,” The Trenchant Observer, May 22, 2010.

(4) “NEWS TO NOTE Deal by U.S. with Pakistan Military to Undercut Abdullah in Final Discussions?” The Trenchant Observer, November 11, 2009.

(5) “KARZAI’S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL IN AFGHANISTAN—THE REAL EXTENT OF THE ELECTORAL FRAUD, ABDULLAH’S CHANCES, AND WASHINGTON’S RESPONSE,” the Trenchant Observer, October 16, 2009.

See also other articles listed on the Afghanistan page, in the upper right-hand corner of the home page, which can be reached by clicking on the banner above.

The Trenchant Observer

Overt Russian military invasion of the Ukraine underway; West must impose harsh stage 3 sanctions immediately

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Developing

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

The Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine by regular Russian forces in underway. Russian artillery manned by Russian soldiers is today firing on Ukrainian troops from within the Ukraine.

See

(1) Michael R. Gordon, “Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says,. New York Times, August 22, 2014.

(2) NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “Statement”, August 22, 2014. See NATO, “NATO Secretary General condemns entry of Russian convoy into Ukraine,” August 22, 2014.

(3) “Russische Soldaten sollen in Ukraine kämpfen; Russische Streitkräfte haben laut Nato-Angaben die ukrainische Armee beschossen. Das Militärbündnis warnt vor einer Eskalation, am Abend tagt der UN-Sicherheitsrat, ” Die Zeit, 22. August 2014 (Aktualisiert um 20:59 Uhr).

The Russian “humanitarian aid” convoy of up to 280 trucks has entered into the Ukraine without Ukrainian authorization.

While posing a direct threat to the Ukraine, the larger function of the truck convoy may turn out to have been to serve as a decoy, distracting the West’s attention from the direct invasion of the Ukraine by the Russian mikitary, moving at night across the border along unnarked dirt tracks or through open fields.

The invasion is pretty much on target for the 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968. It signals the outbreak of an outright war between Russia and the Ukraine.

What can the West and other civilized nations do?

First, they must impose really harsh stage 3 (third-stage) sanctions against Russia.

Only the execution of prior threats will give any future threats the slighest credence.

These measures must include immediate cancellation of all defense contracts, including the French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia, and a cessation of French training of Russian sailors to operate them which is currently underway in France.

The imposition of these sanctions is the only step that might contribute to ending the war.

Failure to impose these threatened sanctions now will undermine all those in Russia who may be arguing for an end to the invasion and in favor of maintenance of economic relations with the West.

Second, large and serious military assistance to the Ukraine should commence at once.

Third, accelerated decisions regarding the forward-basing of NATO forces in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania; and termination or at least total suspension of the NATO-Russia partnership agreement, which Russia has flagrantly breached.

Europe and America must wake up, take a hard look at the realities of the Russian invasion, and react accordingly.

NATO, which was founded to deter Soviet aggression in Europe, must now prove that there are reasons for its continued existence. If it does not react now, it will be too late when the Russians begin further “stealth invasions” in the Baltics.

It is time to turn away from the path of appeasement, and to start defending the values of the West, including the U.N. Charter and the rule of law–on both the international and the domestic levels.

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

As was the case with Adolf Hitler.

The Trenchant Observer

FEAR OF THE AGGRESSOR: Merkel reported planning to push for ceasefire in Ukraine at Minsk meeting with Poroshenko, Putin

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Draft (developing)

Richard Balmforth of Reuters reports tonight that President Petro Petroshenko plans to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his fighters from the Ukraine when he meets with Putin and other leaders in Minsk next week.

He also reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to push for a ceasefire in the Donbass at the talks in Minsk.

See

Richard Balmforth (Kiev), “Ukraine’s Poroshenko talks tough ahead of meetings with Merkel, Putin,” August 21, 2014 (9:57pm EDT).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Kiev on Saturday to show her support for Poroshenko – but diplomats say she is also bearing a message that he should consider calling a ceasefire so as not to incur a backlash from Putin.

What is appalling about Merkel’s reported intention to push for a ceasefire is that it reveals, in the starkest possible terms, the primal fear of the aggressor which has dictated the West’s response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, first by invading and annexing the Crimea, and then by launching and sustaining an invasion by Russian special operations, intelligence and irregular forces to foment and carry out an insurrection in the eastern Ukraine.

The West’s responses to these continuing acts of Russian aggression have been dictated by fear, pure and simple, fear of provoking the aggressor, Vladimir Putin.

European and NATO country leaders have been extraordinarily slow to grasp the significance of military invasions carried out by Russia, a major European and world power (with its nuclear arsenal), against an important European country.

They have stumbled ovver themselves in trying to “help” Vladimir Putin find an “exit” or an “off ramp” from his headlong rush of military invasion and intervention in the Ukraine.

They are grateful he hasn’t sent the regular Russian armed forces into Ukraine, and flatter themselves in thinking that their pathetic “telephone diplomacy” has had something to do with this “forebearance”, when in fact it has only allowed the confict to grow in intensity as Russia intervenes more actively.

Surprisingly, NATO after warning that a Russian invasion of the Ukraine was “highly probable”, has failed to make public information regarding that invasion as it has been taking place in the last two or three weeks.

This is the submission by the abused party to the abuser. There is a kind of intuitive understanding that Russia will deny it is invading the Ukraine (in stealth mode), while the West will pretend not to see the tanks crossing across the border at night, or the Russian artillery firing into the Ukraine to give them and the separatists control over a zone 20-40 kilometers deep in the Ukraine.

Russia denies. The leaders of the West pretend not to see. They do so because making public details of Russian military intervention could increase pressure on them to undertake measures they don’t want to take. Out of fear of the aggressor.

Not one of them seems to give one whit for upholding the United Nations Charter by taking forceful and effective measures to halt and roll back Russian aggression.

They have by their silence telegraphed to Putin that they will accept his invasion and annexation of the Crimea, if only he will be nice enough now not to invade the remaining portion of the country with his regular armed forces.

They have responded to Russia’s aggression with pacifism (no talk of using armed force to halt Russia, no active military support of the Ukrainian army with heavy weapons, advanced weapons systems, and onsite training), and appeasement.

Even the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17 (by a Russian SA-11 air-defense system sent to the Donbass) produced only a fleeting stiffening of thee will in the EU. Some Stage 3 sanctions were imposed on Russia, but no further threatened actions have been adopted despite Putin’s continued support and coordination of the “separatists”.

Let’s call it what it is: Appeasement.

That is what helping Putin “save” face, or “not pushing him into a corner” or “creating an off-ramp” for Putin is, quite simply: Appeasement.

(One can conjure up what an off-ramp for Adolf Hitler might have entailed.)

Now the unthinking leaders of the West, according to the Reuters’ report on Merkel’s intentions, are prepared to push for a “ceasefire” in the Donbass.

In other words, when Putin’s invaders find themselves on the ropes and at great risk of being defeated by the Ukrainian army–at great sacrifice, to be sure–Chancellor Merkel wants to come to Putin’s rescue and pull his bacon out of the fire.

Why?

Primal fear is the answer. Fear of provoking the aggressor, grounded in deep pacifism and unwillingness to stand up for the values of the West, which include the United Nations Charter and the rule of law.

SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s close connection to former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (he was his chief of staff) does not help.  (Schroeder is Putin’s buddy, business partner in the Nordstream gas pipeline, and one of his leading apologists in Germany.

Instead, the pacifists and appeasers in Germany, France and other countries want to give way before those who have invaded the Ukraine in violation of Article 2 paragrap 4 of the U.N. Charter (which prohibits the use of force), to shore up the position of those who have terrorized inhabitants of the Donbass in areas under their control, and to “freeze” the conflict in the Ukraine, all in order to placate Mr. Putin.

They continue to labor under the illusion that they can get back to “business as usual” with Putin and Russia, with all of the trade and joint business projects between Germany anf Russia, with France’s delivery of advanced technology with the two Mistral-class attack warships sold to Russia, and two more to be built jointly with the Russians in St. Petersburg, and London’s lucrative business of sanitizing the wealth of Russian billionaires acquired through the corrupt crony state capitalism of the Putin regime.

They want to continue all of that, despite Russian annexation of the Crimea in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibition of the use of force, and despite Putin’s moral and legal responsibility for over 2,000 deaths in the eastern Ukraine as a result of his launching a war of aggression.

They are like the supporters of Neville Chamberlain in England before the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, who wanted to celebrate “peace in our time”. In this year of commemorations (100 years since the onset of WW I, 70 years since the D-Day landing at Normandy in 1944), it should be noted that the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland is only 11 days away. The 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was yesterday.

So, they want to appease Putin. And one way of doing that is to force the Ukraine to accept a ceasefire that is not a surrender by the “separatists”, but rather a way of helping Putin freeze the conflict in the Ukraine, so that the Ukraine can not follow the democratic path and join Europe as its citizens desire.

FEAR OF THE AGGRESSOR.

Somewhere there must be a modern-day Winston Churchill waiting in the wings, who will have to lead what remains of the EU and NATO out of the rubble which is left after the pacifists’ and appeasers’ illusions about Putin, and Russia, have been shattered.

Or, if there is no new Churchill, it will all simply fall apart.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE: August 20, 1968 — “Dubček, Svoboda!”

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

From August 20, 2011

On this date, 43 years ago, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia, putting down with its tanks what its own broken ideology could no longer extinguish–ideals of freedom of the press and personal liberty free from the oppressive weight of a totalitarian state.

Those ideals and dreams survived, and triumphed.

See The Trenchant Observer,
“August 20, 1968 — “Dubček, Svoboda!” (Personal Takes)”
August 20, 2010

The original article, from 2010, is reproduced below.

***

Alexander Dubcek

Personal Takes

I had a picture of Alexander Dubček on my wall when I was a student studying international law. He represented the hope of many in Czechoslovakia and beyond that the communist party might evolve from within. He and the President of Czechoslovakia, Ludvik Svoboda (whose last name meant “freedom” in Czech), were for a brief moment during “the Prague Spring” the team that stood for the triumph of the human spirit, of freedom, within a communist party and under a communist government.

The threat was too great for the leaders of the Soviet Union, and after a summer of feints and betrayals and illusions, they sent their tanks across the frontier into the sovereign territory of Czechoslovakia, on August 20, 1968.

29 years earlier, Adolph Hitler had sent his tanks into Prague, following the betrayal of Chamberlain at Munich which recognized the annexation of the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia settled by ethnic Germans.

In March 1938, the linking together or annexation (“Anschluss”) of Austria was consummated at the barrel of a gun. The infamous Munich Pact followed on September 30, ceding the Sudetenland to Germany. On March 15, 1939 Germany invaded and took direct control of the rest of Czechoslovakia. The invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, followed months later, setting off World War II.

These events, for a young international lawyer, seemed together to define the core values of the structure and body of international law and institutions, which had begun following a terrible “world war” in the 17th century, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which at the Peace of Westphalia and through the pen of Hugo Grotius gave birth to the modern system of nation states and to the basic framework of principles and norms of international law.

The devastation and suffering that took place during The Thirty Years’ War underlined the need for rules governing the relations of princes and states. Three centuries later Hitler’s Anschluss and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia defined, in a sense, the core values of international law.

Those core values, which had become clear by the 20th century, included the sanctity of the human person and the principle prohibiting the threat or use of force against the political independence or territorial integrity of any state, except in self-defense.

These values were defined by their utter violation, in much the same way that Albert Camus found that moral values were created by their brutal violation by Hitler’s armies and the Gestapo before and during World War II. Camus, who as editor of the French resistance newspaper Libération was a leader in the French resistance, articulated–particularly in “The Rebel” and his novel “The Plague”—a vision of how values acquired their substance and contours not through abstract logic, but more directly through the experience of the horrors of their violation.

So today, on August 20, 2010, let us salute the courage of Dubček and Svoboda in their struggle to put “a human face” on socialism. Years later, their countryman, Václav Havel, gave expression to the dream of freedom of the Prague Spring generation in a voice that resonated through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and throughout the world. Havel became President of Czechoslovakia as a result of “the Velvet Revolution” in 1989.

I remember how in 1968, after the Soviet tanks had crushed the Prague Spring and the autonomous government of Alexander Dubček, it occurred to me that if there were ever a reform from within the Communist party led by a Soviet Dubček, there would be no Soviet tanks to crush the reform. As it turned out, I was only half right. Twenty years later, Mikhail Gorbachev, introducing glasnost and perestroika, led such a reform. Boris Yeltsin put down the reaction by overcoming tanks in 1991, leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

For insight into the Prague Spring, see Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), and the 1988 American movie of the same title, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin, and Juliette Binoche.

The Trenchant Observer

Why should the West help Putin “save face” in the Ukraine?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Developing

The diplomats are thinking of ways to stop the fighting in the Donbass, and a way to help Vladimir Putin to “save face” in order to get him to stop supporting (and coordinating) the so-called “separatists” now holed up in Donetsk and Luhansk

See Maria Tsvetroya and Noah Barkin (Donetsk and Berlin), “Advancing Ukraine troops take fight to heart of pro-Moscow rebellion,” August 19, 2014 (3:52pm EDT).

Why should the West do that?

Why should the West do anything to help Putin save face?

Leaders and diplomats need to stop and think. Is it always best to “freeze” a hostage situation when the criminals are armed, have already killed many people, and more people are dying each day as the security forces seek to disarm the criminals and restore public order?

There is only one thing that should be negotiated with the “separatists” and Vladimir Putin—the man who sent them to invade the eastern Ukraine:   the terms of their surrender, which might possibly include transit out of the country to Russia.

To seek to oblige the Ukraine to surrender part of its sovereignty (by agreeing to Russian demands regarding its domestic affairs) so that the military aggressor will cease his aggression, is simply to continue down the road of appeasement which led us to where we are today.

Vladimir Putin is responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people in the eastern Ukraine.

No one should help him save face for launching a military invasion by irregular forces, in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter and international law, in the eastern Ukraine.

International law must be upheld.

It is not the task of international law to help an aggressor save face, just as it is not the task of law in a domestic situation to help a hostage-taker or murderer save face.

A larger issue is also involved here. Putin and his war propaganda machine are responsible for fanning the flames of xenophobic nationalism and support for policies of aggression in Russia. The biggest challenge for the West is to find ways to put out the flames of that zenophobic and irredentist nationalism, before it shows up again at the borders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Putin should not be helped to “save face”. The whole course of negotiating terms of appeasement by the West should be abandoned.

Instead, harsher “stage 3″ sanctions should now be imposed by the EU, the U.S., and their allies, in execution of the threats they have made of actions to be imposed if Russia didn’t halt its support of the “separatists”.

Russia has not halted that support.

A defeat of the “separatists” in the Donbass is an outcome the Ukrainian people and their military forces deserve, and have earned with the loss of so many military and civilian lives in a war of self-defense. Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, they have the “inherent right” to exercise that right, and to call upon other nations to join them in repelling Russian aggression by taking “collective measures” of self-defense.

The Trenchant Observer

Heirs to Daladier and Chamberlain? The German and French appeasers of today should call off the “Munich II” peace negotiations with Vladimir Putin; Immediate harsh sanctions are required; Individual countries should send military contingents to the Ukraine to assist in “collective self-defense”

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

We do not need a “Munich II” conference led by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in Berlin or anywhere else, to offer up “concessions” in exchange for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine.

What we do need is for the EU and the U.S. to carry out their threats that they would impose increasingly harsh “stage 3″ sanctions if Putin and Russia did not halt their invasion of the Ukraine.

The negotiations between the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France and the Ukraine in Berlin are reminiscent of the Munich “Peace” Conference, which culminated on September 30-October 1, 1938 with the signing of the infamous “Munich Pact”—by which France and Great Britain broke their treaty commitments to defend Czechoslovakia and gave their blessing to Adolf Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland at the barrel of a gun — a threatened military invasion on October 1.

The talks today in Berlin led nowhere, as one might have predicted.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the SPD foreign minister of the grand coalition government led by CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel, has exhausted the negotiating possibilities for achieving a peaceful solution in the Ukraine that respects the territorial integrity and political independence of that country.

His efforts now resemble those of Kofi Annan in Syria who, after Bashar al-Assad had broken every agreement, failed to comply with all the ceasefire provisions of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and even shot at the U.N. UNMIS onservers, returned to Damascus to meet with al-Assad one more time to explore possibilities for a diplomatic soution to the crisis, and then reported that the talks were “promising”.

Steinmeier sprach von einem “schwierigen Gespräch”. “Aber ich glaube und ich hoffe, dass wir in einzelnen Punkten Fortschritte erreicht haben”, fügte er hinzu. Welche Fortschritte das sein sollen, blieb offen. Gesprochen wurde laut Steinmeier aber über Wege zu einem möglichen Waffenstillstand, eine verbesserte Kontrolle der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze und die humanitäre Unterstützung von notleidenden Zivilisten im Krisengebiet.

–”Ukraine-Konflikt: Kein Durchbruch bei Krisentreffen in Berlin; Fast fünf Stunden dauerte das Krisentreffen in Berlin, bei dem Frank-Walter Steinmeier eine Vermittlung zwischen Russland und der Ukraine versuchte. Dies ist zunächst gescheitert. Der Außenminister gibt aber die Hoffnung nicht auf,” Der Spiegel, August 18, 2014 (00:27 Uhr).

There is only one acceptable solution to the crisis caused by Russian aggression in the Ukraine, including its ongoing invasion of that country.

That solution is for Vladimir Putin and Russia to cease their aggression, and to cease furnishing military training, weapons, fighters and other support to the so-called separatists, which they themselves sent into the eastern Ukraine, and which have been operating under their direction and control.

We do not need a “Munich II” conference led by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in Berlin or anywhere else, to offer up “concessions” in exchange for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine.

What we do need is for the EU and the U.S. to carry out their threats that they would impose increasingly harsh “stage 3″ sanctions if Putin and Russia did not halt their invasion of the Ukraine.

They haven’t halted that invasion.

The moment for really harsh sanctions against Russia is now.

Moreover, because NATO and the EU are immobilized due to the pacifists and appeasers among their leaders’ ranks, individual nations should dispatch troops to the Ukraine to assist that country in response to its appeal for measures of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Today is August 17, three days short of the 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968.

If the Russians are going launch an all-out invasion of the Ukraine, which western military leaders have warned for some time is “a high probability”, the perfect time for that invasion would be August 20, 2014.

In the meantime, discussions with Russia should be removed from the leadership of the pacifists and appeasers of Germany and France, and taken up in the U.N. Security Council in public sessions. These should be held continuously until the Russian aggression stops.

A resolution condemning Russia should be tabled and put to a vote.

After a Russian veto, a similar resolution should be tabled in the General Assembly, where all member nations should be called upon to speak, explaining why or why not they are voting to uphold the most fundamental provision of the U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 4, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

The territorial integrity of the Ukraine is a matter of grave concern to every member of the United Nations.

The “Munich II Conference” with Putin should be called off. Countries should rally to the collective self-defense of the Ukraine by all measures, including the sending of troops.

And the foreign ministers of Germany and France should stop competing for the mantle of Edouard Daladier of France and Neville Chamberlain of England, and their infamous place in history as the appeasers who sold out Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938.

The Trenchant Observer

Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine continues; Pacifists and appeasers in the West want to “negotiate” with Putin

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

A telling comment by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier could stand as the epitaph of the current generation of leaders who have responded to Russian invasion of the Ukraine with pacifism and appeasement.

The incursion of a column of 23 Armored Rersonnel Carriers into the Ukraine Thursday night was not an invasion, he said, but just part of the unfortunately routine actions of Russia supplying arms and equipment (and men) to support the separatists in the Donbass region of the Ukraine.

Other ministers appeared to play down the significance of the Russian incursion. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it may represent an “unfortunately normal” event on the border of war-torn eastern Ukraine.

–Matthew Dalton, “EU Foreign Ministers Say Russia May Face Tougher Sanctions;
Foreign Ministers’ Statement Says the Decision Depends on Their Assessment of Moscow’s Latest Actions in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2014 (1:48 p.m. ET).

What hoops the human mind can leap through to avoid confronting military intervention with force — or even only economic force!

When there are armed burglars in the house, it’s probably not the best move to engage them in conversation while one of them continues to go through your belongings and put those of value into a sack, while his colleague keeps a gun pointed at your head.

With Putin, what is there to talk about?

Is it wise policy to negotiate with a terrorist?

What have all the negotiations by the West with Putin gained?

Who has been achieving their objectives, Putin or the West?

See

UKRAINE; Separatisten bestätigen Rüstungslieferung aus Russland
30 Panzer und 1.200 Kämpfer habe Moskau geschickt, sagt der Regierungschef der Separatisten. Das Video war auf einer Internetseite aufgetaucht, Die Zeit, 16. August 2014 (18:34 Uhr).

Today is not a time for pleading with the aggressor to desist, to negotiate with him how he can keep his insurrection in the Ukraine going so the country cannot join the EU or NATO, and how best to resume business as usual, while tacitly acknowledging that he has taken the Crimea by force and you aren’t going to do anything about it.

The news report cited above states that the new leader of the “separatists” has claimed in a video on a separatist website that they have received 30 tanks and 1200 men as reinforcements to fight the Ukrainian forces.

This is what you get when the President of the United States is a pacifist and appeaser, with a soft place in his heart for Russia, when the President of France is willing to sell out NATO and Europe to complete a 1.3 billion Euro sale of warships to Russia, and when the SPD foreign minister of Angela Merkel’s CDU-led grand coalition is unwilling to criticize former SPD Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder for his business dealings with Putin and Russia, and his public apologies and understanding for Putin’s behavior.

Sadly, the West is on vacation, or “out to lunch”. Putin continues his military invasion of the eastern Ukraine, while distracting the world’s attention through the drama of his “humanitarian aid” convoy now on the border of the Ukraine near Luhansk.

With the pacifist and appeasment leaders we in the West now have, we can only feel powerless, and great sympathy for all the intelligent men and women who were similarly powerless as they watched Germany and Hitler move down the path of appeasement that led to World War II, and the loss of over 50 million lives.

For an American, it is particularly galling to see an American president in power who is clueless and incompetent, and whose appeasement of Putin first in Syria and now in the Ukraine has much to do with the breakdown in international peace and security we are currently witnessing in many countries of the world.

Obama is the heir of Roosevelt and Truman, of Eisenhower and Kennedy, and he doesn’t have a clue, and won’t for his remaining two years in power.

Well, it is at least worth saying once again, in this dialogue des sourds:

The only language Putin and the Russians understand is the language of actions.

The actions that are now urgently required, as the Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine continues, are:

1) immediate imposition of really hard-hitting “stage 3″ sanctions against Russia, including a ban on all existing defense contracts, and an immediate ban on all financing of Russian activities, including short-term financing of less than 90-days duration;

2) the immediate provision of serious military training, weapons and equipment to the Ukraine; and

3) immediate moves by NATO to forward deploy large numbers of troops to countries bordering on Russia.

Otherwise, our hopes for the future will be lost, as Vladimirr Putin will continue to dominate the world’s attention through policies of aggression, and defiance of the U.N, Charter’s most basic provisions prohibiting the threat or use of force.

The Trenchant Observer