Archive for the ‘Justice Department’ Category

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

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, and 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

Ukraine attacks Russian armored column which entered Donbass Thursday night; August 8 (2014) Security Council meeting on Ukraine — Trancript (U.N. Doc. S/PV.7239) and links to webcast

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Ukrainian military forces have engaged the Russian armored column which entered the Ukraine near Luhansk Thursday evening, and according to Kiev destroyed at least part of it.

See Michael Birnbaum, “Ukraine forces destroy most of a column of Russian military vehicles, president says, Wasington Post, August 15, 2014 (2:02 p.m.).

Overt Russian military intervention, as occurred Thursday night when a column of Armored Personnel Carriers and related equipment crossed over the border into the Ukraine near “separatist” controlled areas including Luhansk, represents an overt act of war.

The incursion constitutes a flagrant violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Russian military intervention in the Ukraine was discussed at the U.N. Security Council meeting on August 8, 2014. The statements of the representatives (see links to Transcript and Webcast, below) are quite revealing in terms of what is going on in the Donbass, and the illegality of Russian military intervention under the U.N. Charter and international law.

See the minutes of the U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine, August 8, 2014, here.

Links to the Webcast of the meeting, in both English and the original language of the speaker, as well as the Press Release on the meeting, are found here.

The Security Council should reconvene in emergency session immediately.

Delegates should set forth clear evidence regarding Russian military intervention in the eastern Ukraine, both by irregular and by regular forces, and table a resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

While Russia will surely veto the resolution, a vote on it will force other members to take a position. China should be lobbied very hard by EU, NATO and other civilized countries to at least abstain on the vote.

Defending Russian aggression in the Ukraine is not in the long-term interests of China, a rising global power with important responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Just because Russia has trashed its “brand” through its overt policies of aggression is no reason for China, which has an increasingly attractive “brand” throughout the world, to do likewise.

In the meantime, Western countries should actively press countries which abstained on the last General Assembly resolution on the Ukraine, including the other BRICS countries besides China, to vote in favor of a new General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s military intervention in the country.

Once this lobbying has lined up the votes in the General Assembly, the Security Council resolution can be put to a vote. Following the Russian veto of that resolution, a similar resolution should be taken up for consideration and put to a vote in the General Assembly.

In the meantime, the U.S. and the EU should adopt further “stage 3″ sanctions (including a ban on all existing defense contracts), and begin supplying serious military training, arms and equipment to the Ukraine.

The “containment” of Russia’s xenophobic nationalism and aggression must begin now, in earnest.

All declarations and promises from Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials should simply be ignored, unless promises can be specifically monitored and verified as they are implemented, in real time.

Russian war propaganda should likewise be ignored, except that investigations into whether such “propaganda for war” constitutes an international crime should be opened and vigorously pursued.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Putin’s Trojan Horse: Military aggressor sends military-style aid convoy to Ukraine as its irregular forces are encircled

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Developing

See

(1) Julia Smirnova, “Die Angst vor den weissen Lastwagen ohne Nummernschild,” Die Welt 12. August 2014 (19:33 Uhr).

(2) Stefan Braun, Javier Cáceres und Cathrin Kahlweit, “Russlands Hilfstranport: Geheimnisvoller Konvoi mit unbekannter Ladung, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 12. August 2014 (18:16 Uhr).

“Ist das der Beginn einer russischen Intervention? Oder ein PR-Coup von Präsident Putin? Was auch immer in den 280 Lastwagen steckt, die in Moskau losgeschickt wurden – es wird nicht unkontrolliert zu den notleidenden Menschen in die Ostukraine gelangen.”

(3) “NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Russian military intervention in Ukraine a high probability'” The Trenchant Observer, August 11, 2014.

(4) “Russian invasion of Ukraine viewed as increasingly likely,” The Trenchant Observer, August 10, 2014.

(5) “Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine possibly imminent; Russia lays out “facts” to justify “humanitarian intervention”, masses combat-ready troops on Ukrainian border, The Trenchant Observer, August 6, 2014.

Vladimir Putin has brilliantly deployed Russian troops and irregulars in his ongoing war against the territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European country. These actions, including the invasion and annexation of the Crimea, have constituted flagrant violations of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, the cornerstone of the international political and legal order established at the end of World War II, in 1945.

Europe and America have responded to these actions with the pacifism and appeasement that characterized the responses of France and Great Brtiain to Hitler’s acts of lawlessness and aggression, beginning with the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936 (in violation of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919), soon followed by the forced annexation of Austria in March, 1938, the forced annexation of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in October, 1938, the invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, and the invasion of Poland in September, 1939.

At this late hour, the West slumbers, still.

Even the “stage 3″ sanctions adopted by the EU and the U.S. in late July have had no effect on Putin’s stealth invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

Now the Russian Dictator has devised a new ruse to justify military intervention in the Donbass in order to prevent the defeat of the irregular forces he sent there. He sent these irregular forces into the Ukraine in an effort to in effect seize territory, and either open a land route to supply the Crimea, conquered by military invasion in February, 2014, or at least to freeze the conflict with his forces controlling the Donbass.

The new ruse is a Trojan Horse, which will either bring a Russian (military) presence inside the Ukraine (think of “little green men” in military trucks painted white, without license plates, delivering aid). Or, if the convoy is stopped before entering the country, it will provide a justification to his domestic audience for an overt military invasion of the Ukraine.

Each new development appears to be simply the execution of one more step in Putin’s well-orchestrated plan to prepare for and to invade the eastern Ukraine.

His actions are cunning, as befits a former KGB officer who rose to the preeminent position of authoritarian “Leader” of the Russian Federation.

What can the West do?

Russia is in the grip of xenophobic nationalism and policies of aggression, with the emotions of the population whipped up by Putin’s propaganda machine and control of state television and other media.

The “rational actor fallacy” must be avoided.

Actions must be taken not to change Putin’s calculations of costs and benefits, but rather to pierce the delusional bubble in which he and his countrymen find themselves, and to change the “facts on the ground” with which they must contend.

That will require very forceful actions.

The following actions are urgently recommended:

1. Convoke immediate meetings of the heads of state of NATO and of the EU member countries;

2. Adopt, with immediate effect, a ban on all financing tranactions with Russia, including short-term financing of less than 90-days duration (excluded under the “stage 3″ sanctions imposed in July);

3. Extend the bans on defense sector deals and weapons deliveries to include all transactions, including existing contracts (e.g., for French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia);

4. Prepare much stronger sanctions to be imposed automatically if Putin invades the Ukraine, with his Trojan Horse or by any other means.

5. Decide upon and begin sending a large NATO training mission to the Ukraine.

6. Immediately begin arms and weapons systems deliveries to the government in Kiev.

The international political and legal order which has protected the world from all-out major wars since 1945 (surviving both Korea and Vietnam) cannot be given up without a fight.

Is there a fool left who believes Vladimir Putin is acting in good faith?

Is there a fool left who believes anything Vladimir Putin says, or anything any Russian official says?

Russia under Putin will never be able to return to “business as usual” with the West. In view of Putin’s actions since February, this is not even thinkable.

“Containment” of Russia must begin.

It must begin immediately.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama: “We tortured some folks…It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks (our law enforcement and our national security teams) were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.” (full transcript)

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Developing

Excerpt from President Barack Obama’s press conference today, Fiday, August 1, 2014:

Q What about John Brennan?

THE PRESIDENT:

On Brennan and the CIA, the RDI report has been transmitted, the declassified version that will be released at the pleasure of the Senate committee.

I have full confidence in John Brennan. I think he has acknowledged and directly apologized to Senator Feinstein that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation as to how certain documents that were not authorized to be released to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff. And it’s clear from the IG report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled. Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he’s already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved.

With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.

I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard. And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.

–Transcript, Press Conference by the President, White House, James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, August 1, 2014 (2:45 P.M. EDT). The text of the transcipt is found here.

It’s hard to know what is more shocking: 1) the casual language the President used in admitting torture; 2) what he actually said (calling torturers “real patriots”; or 3) the fact that he seemed totally oblivious to the import and impact of what he was saying.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama hides behind European appeasers on sanctions; France blocks defense sector measures

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Developing

For recent news and commentary, see:

(1) Jennifer Rubin, “Truth telling at the U.N., obfuscation at the White House,” Washington Post, July 20, 2014.

(2) Carsten Luther, “MH17-ABSCHUSS: Keine Sanktion ist zu hart, Die Zeit, 22. juli 2014 (19:29 Uhr).

Der Abschuss von MH17 über der Ostukraine ist noch nicht endgültig aufgeklärt. Trotzdem darf der Westen nicht wieder den Fehler machen, zu lange auf Russland zu warten.

The Presidency of France is not what it used to be. Former President Nicholas Sarkozy is under criminal investigation for interference in judicial proceedings against him, notably for calling a high judge for details of how a corruption case against him was going.

Francois Hollande, the current president, has become an appeaser of Vladimir Putin, breaking the latter’s isolation from the West by extending invitations to Putin to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of D-Day at Normandy, and dinner at the Elysee Palace, while simultaneously announcing his government’s decision to proceed with delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter transports and amphibious attack vessels to Russia, with the first delivery due this fall.

Now he is blocking the adoption of EU sanctions banning the export to Russia of military arms and equipment. The deal for the two warships is valued at $1.8 billion dollars.

In the last few days, Hollande has apparetly indicated that he would be willing to suspend the delivery of the second warship, but not the first.

That puts the price of France’s integrity and good name at somewhere under $1 billion.

That is what the United States and the rest of Europe get, today, in return for the Allied liberation of France in 1944 and 1945, and the Marshal plan which enabled it and the rest of Europe to emerge from the aftermath of World War II and achieve the prosperity that it knows today.

Cynics say they always knew France had a price, and that it is not unusual for French commercial interests to trump security and political interests, but that they simply didn’t know that the price could be so low.

In the United States, Barack Obama, under pressure from big business groups not to adopt unilateral sanctions against Russia that are not matched by the EU, sits and waits for Europe to take the lead.

Above all, the reigning illusion that pinprick “targeted measures” against a small number of individuals and highly-calibrated “targeted measures” against a few companies and banks will cause Putin and the Kremlin to change course retains its grip on political leaders’ imaginations, in Washington as in Europe.

The evidence that such “pinprick” measures potentially might change the course and foreign policy of a powerful state under the authoritarian control of Vladimir Putin and his coterie is utterly lacking, whereas the failure of this approach with respect to the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine is clear for all to see.

The pacifists in Washington and Europe remain in the delusional grip of beliefs that by empty threats and words they can change Putin’s course. They want to give him “one last chance” to halt his support of the so-called “separatists” in the eastern Ukraine.

They have made many such peremptory threats and “one last chance” requests for Putin to desist from his aggression in the Ukraine. Each time, the former KGB operative has cunningly offered them just the verbal concessions necessary to take the wind out of the sails of any movement to impose serious sectoral sanctions, i.e., sanctions against the Russian state and not just individuals or a few companies.

They also shrink from placing the one most obvious candidate on their sanctions list: Vladimir Putin himself.

Nor are they even thinking of rolling back the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea.

Given the transparent nature of their decision-making processes, their pacifism and appeasement manifested in a permanent lack of resolve, and their unwillingness to take even the most obvious measures to protect NATO members bordering Russia–e.g., by moving NATO troops from the safe heartland of Europe to forward bases in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania–the leaders of Europe are like children in the woods with the Big Bad Wolf, Vladimir Putin.

Anyone who expects good results to emerge from this constellation of dispositions and forces will surely be disappointed.

Despite her notable successes on the economic front in Europe, Angela Merkel’s legacy is likely to be defined in terms of her failure to respond to Russian aggression in the Ukraine. Hollande will likely be remembered for responding to challenges requiring great courage and statesmanship with the mentality and actions of a small-town merchant.

Instead of Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle, their names in the future will likely evoke memories of Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, the English and French leaders who in Munich delivered the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia to their fate at the hands of Adolf Hitler and the Wehrmacht of the Third Reich.

As for Barack Obama and his indecisiveness and lack of resolve, what can be said, other than that he is the most incompetent president of the United States in foreign policy at least since 1932, who is laying the groundwork for a triumphant Republican sweep of the 2016 presidential elections by running on a strong national security platform and a repudiation of the Democrats’ withdrawal from world leadership in international affairs?

The Trenchant Observer

Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine continues; Europe refuses serious sanctions; Only serious sanctions can stop Russia

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Developing

For background, see The Trenchant Observer, “The virus of nationalism and military aggression: Adolf Hitler in Vienna, March, 1938; Vladimir Putin in Sevastopol, May 9, 2014,” June 30, 2014.

The article includes video links to Vladimir Putin’s speech to a joint session of Russia’s parliament on March 18, 2014, and to Adolf Hitler’s speech upon his entry into Vienna in 1938, together with links to television programs from Walter Cronkite’s “The Seeds of War” series on the background to World War II.

Russia continues its aggression in the eastern Ukraine, while diplomatic discussions are to continue by Saturday on establishing a cease-fire which is observed by both sides, and other conditions to be met, including the return of border posts to the Ukraine. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove offers a sobering assessment of what has actually been happening on the ground in the last month while diplomats and heads of state have been talking, negotiating, and essentially dithering. See Rosen, below.

Meanwhile, the iron will of the German Chancellor, and of the French President and other EU heads of state, has in effect foreclosed the imposition of serious, stage-three sanctions on Russia for its continuing aggression. This refusal helps account for the intense diplomacy underway to secure a real ceasefire and a cessation of the Russian invasion and occupation by special forces and others under their control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This diplomacy, if not backed by real sanctions, is not likely to succeed. Commercial interests, pacifism, and appeasement remain the leitmotifs of European actions and decisions. See the article in Die Zeit, below.

Stefan Kornelius of the Suddeutsche Zeitung, in a powerful commentary, explains why only serious sanctions can stop Russian aggression in the eastern Ukraine, and convince Putin that a Georgian style solution of frozen conflict is not possible in that country, both because of its size and because of its importance and ties to Europe. See his commentary, below.

The Ongoing Russian Invasion of the Eastern Ukraine

(1) James Rosen, “NATO chief to move forces from U.S. to Europe to respond to Russia in Ukraine,” McClatchy Washington Bureau, July 1, 2014.

Rosen quoted the U.S. Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove, as saying U.S. troops will be moved to Europe in October to help shore up the troops on rotation in the eastern NATO members bordering Russia.

Breedlove said Moscow has supplied pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft artillery and other heavy weapons.

The four-star general, who assumed NATO command last year, said there’s “a very good likelihood” that the anti-aircraft artillery used to shoot down a Ukrainian transport plane June 14, killing all 42 people on board, came from Russia.

“(What) we see in training on the (Russian) side of the border is big equipment, tanks, (armored personnel carriers), anti-aircraft capability, and now we see those capabilities being used on the (Ukrainian) side of the border,” Breedlove said.

Asked how many Russian troops have massed on the Ukraine border, Breedlove responded that there are “seven-plus battalion task groups on the east side of that border,” which would be on the order of 5,000 troops.

The Refusal of the EU to Impose Serious Sanctions

(2) “UKRAINE-KRISE: EU scheut Wirtschaftssanktionen gegen Russland; Die Staats- und Regierungschefs der EU haben ihre Drohung nicht wahr gemacht: Russland muss vorerst keine schwerwiegenden Wirtschaftssanktionen fürchten,” Die Zeit, 1. Juli 2014 (Aktualisiert um 16:00 Uhr).

Only the Imposition of Serious Sanctions Can Move Russia

(3) Sefan Kornelius (Kommentar), “Krise in der Ukraine; Sanktionen sind der einzige Hebel,” Suddeutsche Zeitung, 2. Juli 2014.

Die vergangenen Tage haben es gezeigt: Die Zeit ist nicht reif für einen echten Waffenstillstand. Frieden in der Ukraine kann es nur geben, wenn das Spiel aus Propaganda und Unaufrichtigkeit ein Ende hat. Moskau muss akzeptieren, dass der Osten der Ukraine kein zweites Georgien ist.

Politisch wird sich dieser Krieg nur dann beenden lassen, wenn Russland das Spiel von Lug und Trug aufgibt und den Separatisten sowohl die militärische als auch die politische Basis für ihr Treiben entzieht. Dazu muss Russland einem Ziel glaubwürdig abschwören: Eine Zone dauerhafter Unruhe darf es in der Ostukraine nicht geben.

As for President Barack Obama and the United States, they are nowhere to be found. The U.S. is not even participating in the negotiations, at the foreign minister level, between Germany, France, Russia and the Ukraine. To be sure, given the Obama administration’s performance in the past, this could possibly be a good thing–despite what it says about the quality of current American leadership.

Ironically, the failure of the U.S. and the EU to carry through on their previous threats of serious sanctions has, if anything, emboldened Putin to undertake the brazen military interventionist activities of the last month.

The empty threats of the West seem to have caused him to call the West’s bluff, increasing and amplifying the intensity of his military aggression.

The failure to carry through with these threats, even now, risks further escalation of the conflict by Russia, including overt military intervention to protect ‘Russian people” who need not even be ethnic Russians.

“When I speak of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens,” Mr. Putin said, “I am referring to those people who consider themselves part of the broad Russian community. They may not necessarily be ethnic Russians, but they consider themselves Russian people.”

–See David M Herszenhorn, “Russia Demands New Cease-Fire in Ukraine as Foreign Ministers Seek Path to Peace, New York Time, July 2, 2014, quoting Putin.

The West has simply not bothered to effectively refute this outrageous and unfounded asserted justification under international law of a right to use military force to defend “Russian people”.

Historians will wonder at the fecklessness of today’s leaders in the West, and the lack of concern of leaders in other parts of the world, just as they wondered at the appeasement of Hitler by Britain’s Neville Chamberlain and France’s Edouard Daladier when they agreed to the Munich Pact in 1938, ceding the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to the Germans.

The Trenchant Observer

The West, Russia and the Ukraine: Threats, facts on the ground, and sectorial sanctions

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

The EU and the U.S. are on the verge of deciding, once again, whether they will actually carry out their last round of threats. They stated, in the strongest terms, that they would impose third-stage, sectorial sanctions against Russia if Putin and Russia did not withdraw their forces from the border and halt their support of so-called “separatists” in the eastern Ukraine.

These “separatists”, it is worth recalling, are led by the Russian special forces and intelligence agents who launched the rebellion in the East, and their followers, now including thousands of Russian “volunteers” who–in the last month–have flooded across the border into the Ukraine, together with ground-to-air missiles, tanks and other arms and equipment.

The border was “opened” for the Russians and their “volunteers” by a well-coordinated military campaign of attacks against Ukrainian border posts and their supporting control centers.

In the last month, Putin has continued to play his “double game” of saying one thing and doing something else. He has not ceased support on the ground for the “separatists” who, despite the former KGB-man’s machinations in a new form of “stealth war”, we have every reason to believe remain under Putin’s direction and control.

The West threatened sectorial sanctions if Putin did not change course. He changed only–at the last minute–in his verbal formulations, in what he said to Western leaders, but not in his actions on the ground.

If we look at what has transpired in the last month, can anyone say with a straight face that Putin has met the West’s conditions for not imposing sectorial sanctions?

Those who have followed Putin’s maneuvering in Syria are quite familiar with his modus operandi, of saying just enough to throw the West into disarray and to defuse any momentum toward the adoption of real, hard-hitting sanctions or stronger action, only to resume the relentless pursuit of his goals once the concentration and motivation of the West and other civilized nations has dissipated.

A fundamental question facing the West in deciding whether to defer sectorial sanctions and try to use them–again!–as a threat to induce Putin to act the way they want, is whether they want to continue devoting this enormous amount of energy and degree of concentration to the perfidious president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Or, might they prefer to move on, to contain Russia through concrete actions, and then to devote their energies to building Europe and restoring the vitality of the Atlantic Alliance and its leadership.

Putin is not going to change. He is not going to become the democrat that Boris Yeltsin once thought he might become. He is someone the West can never trust again.

Moreover, the U.S. doesn’t really need Russian assistance to get out of Afghanistan, or to deal with Iran and the nuclear issue through the “five plus one” (5 +1) talks. Russia is not America’s friend, and won’t be again so long as Putin remains in power.

Consequently, the choice facing the West is whether

(1) to continue playing Putin’s game, on his terms, where all attention is directed toward him and what he might say or do, or not do; or

(2) to finally act forcefully in the face of the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea, and the ongoing Russian “stealth” invasion of the eastern Ukraine, by taking hard actions to contain Russia, halt its aggression, and restore observance of international law. The latter is of paramount importance, and includes the priniples of the U.N. Charter prohibiting the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country, including the Ukraine.

Containment will require, at some point and sooner rather than later, the forward deployment of NATO troops in the front-line states of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Romania.

Moreover, Russia needs to be pushed hard by the West and other civilized countries on the issue of its observance of human rights. We should not remain silent in the face of an increasingly repressive authoritarian regime whose “democracy” has become no more than a “Potemkin village”. The Magnitsky Act should be enforced.

Nothing is to be gained by further delay of sectorial sanctions. If the threat of such sanctions is ever to be credible in the future, repeated threats in the past must now be executed in view of Putin’s failure to comply with their conditions.

That doesn’t mean that measures like the OSCE monitoring of the border and of the situation in the eastern Ukraine need not be pursued, or that negotiations within the Ukraine under OSCE auspices must be halted.

It means only that the West, having called Putin’s bluff, will be in a stronger position to deal with him and Russia.

It will bring home to Putin, through actions and not mere words, that the EU, NATO, and the U.S. have finally gotten serious about putting an end to his aggression and redressing its consequences.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Obervateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Dare anyone say it? “We applaud the courage of the Ukrainian government and people in defending public order and the sovereignty and territorial independence of the Ukraine.”

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

In the face of Russian aggression, in the last few days the Ukrainian government has shown great courage in defending public order, and the territorial integrity, political independence and sovereignty of their nation.

Their courageous actions should make the authors of the cowardly responses of the West and the broader international community feel deeply ashamed. For the latter have merely paid lip service to the defense of freedom, human rights and international law, while engaging in a policy of pacifism and appeasement in the face of blatant Russian aggression.

Nor is the duty to act to uphold the U.N. Charter, international law, and the maintenance of international peace and security solely that of the United States and the West. The abstention by Brazil and other countries on the General Assembly resolution condemning the invasion and annexation of the Crimea, for example, will long remain as a black page in the histories of these countries.

The appeasement by the West and other countries is particularly clear with respect to the military invasion and annexation by Russia of the Crimea. These actions have upended the entire postwar international political and legal order. The demands of Western leaders for a restoration of the status quo ante in the Crimea have grown silent, while they have adopted no sanctions which can be realistically viewed as aimed at securing a reversal of the aggression and annexation.

In all communities, the force of law and its deterrent effect weakens when the community whose interests it protects do not act to uphold its norms.

Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea, its attack on the eastern Ukraine through special operations forces and the organization, coordination and direction of pro-Russian militias and armed thugs–taking over public buildings and even towns by armed force, and its continuing threats of military intervention by massing combat-ready troops on the border poised to launch an invasion, have placed the entire postwar military, political and legal order in question in the greatest crisis of this nature since World War II.

Will anyone speak out in praise of the actions of the Ukrainian government, without which Russian aggression would triumph, and the rule of law and protection of the human rights of citizens in the eastern Ukraine would be lost?

Are Western leaders afraid to remind the world each time they speak that Russia has committed aggression in the Crimea and continues fresh acts of aggression in the eastern Ukraine?

Will they not only speak out in defense of international law and human rights, in defense of liberty and the rule of law, but also undertake immediate and concrete measures of a serious nature to come to the defense of the Kiev government and assist it in facing down Russian aggression?

Though Barack Obama and Angela Merkel and other world leaders seem oblivious to the fact, Ukrainian soldiers and security forces are today fighting to uphold the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law which guarantee their security and that of the citizens they represent.

If these leaders can grasp this point, might they not do more, through really significant actions, to aid the Ukraine in its defense of their common values of respect for international law and international human rights?

The future of their countries and of the international political and legal order are in their hands. If they are leaders, and not merely followers of ill-informed public opinions on critical foreign policy matters, can and will they lead?

The Trenchant Observer

A weak American president fails to lead, and anarchy is unleashed upon the world

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Mark Landler of the New York Times published an article today, April 29, that reveals not only the deep roots of pacifism and appeasement in President Obama’s thinking and character, of which attendant observers were previously quite aware, but also—and shockingly–the confused and muddled state of his thinking about foreign policy in general, and responding to Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Ukraine in particular.

Mark Landler, “Ending Asia Trip, Obama Defends His Foreign Policy,” New York Times, April 28, 2014 (April 29 print edition).

As reported by Landler, Obama feels on the defensive, and throws out straw men to knock down in his own defense. For example, in rebutting critics of his responses to Russian aggression in the Crimea and its subsequent annexation, or his failure to respond to Putin’s attack against the eastern Ukraine, and continuing threats of an invasion, Obama argues that the introduction of troops in the Ukraine would not help to solve the problem.

With all due respect, Mr. President, you are being criticized at the moment for your failure to impose real economic sanctions on Russia that are serious enough to get them to stop their present takeover of the eastern Ukraine, and dismemberment of Europe’s largest nation in area which also has a population of 45 million people.

What is truly shocking to hear is the muddled thinking of Obama, who doesn’t seem capable of recognizing critical issues and the time frame within which they will be decided. He doesn’t seem to understand what is at stake in the Crimea, or the eastern Ukraine, or in terms of upholding international law.

As he had done in Syria through Medvedev, Putin through his media and spokesmen has made not so subtle allusions to the possibility of nuclear war. In both Syria and in the Ukraine, it would appear that such threats, delivered obliquely to be sure, may have gotten to Obama.

Whether that is the case or not, Obama has repeatedly manifested the dug-in attitude of a diehard pacifist willing to do almost anything to appease Russia.

Obama acts not as the principal protagonist on the world stage who can laad the West and its allies in facing down Russian aggression, as only an American president is in a position to do, but rather as a detached observer who does not even believe the latest round of targeted sanctions will achieve the effect of making Putin and Russia change course.

He seems to be afraid of Putin and Russia, and entering into a confrontation with them over anything, whether that be the future of the Ukraine, of NATO, or of the postwar international political and legal order established under the framework of the United Nations Charter.

If there are no circumstances in which the U.S. will impose strong economic sanctions, or even use military force, Putin has an open playing field as wide as central and eastern Europe. Others around the world will take their cues from Obama’s pacifism and appeasement, and from Russia’s success in taking advantage of America’s current lack of leadership and resolve.

It’s too bad Obama didn’t play American football in high school. He might have learned something about how to summon the courage to tackle and stop a large body coming directly at him at high speed and with great force and momentum.

The West is without a leader, and anarchy is unleashed upon the world.

The Trenchant Observer