Archive for the ‘U.N. Charter’ Category

The World as it is: Pacifism and appeasement towards Russia in Germany, Europe, and the United States

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

In Europe, the fact that Angela Merkel and other leaders continue to meet with Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov itself speaks volumes about the fact they have nothing but talk and further appeasement of Russia to offer.

In the asymmetric war between Putin’s tanks and the West’s economic weapons, not understanding that the struggle is already on, they refuse to apply further sanctions against Russia.

Meanwhile, they have taken no binding measures to halt the delivery to Russia by Francois Hollande and France of “The Vladilovstok” — a Mistral-class attack warship and area command and control system representing a 10-year technological advantage over Russia. The ship is in Ste. Navaire, the Russian crew has been trained, and we can expect the ship to slip away under Russian command any day now.

Neither the EU nor NATO nor individual NATO member states have taken any concrete measures to prevent this delivery from taking place. In all likelihood, it will soon be a fait accompli.

At the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia this last weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to talk tough to Putin in public, but it turned out to be just talk.

Later that evening, in fact, she engaged in a private four-hour meeting with Putin on the Ukraine. Details were not forthcoming.

The outcome?

More talk, more efforts to find magic formula that will placate the Russian aggressor, Vladimir Putin. This is the evidence that emerged following foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s visits to Kiev and Moscow, where he met with Sergey Lavrov and also Vladimir Putin, on November 18.

Merkel and her foreign minister are lost, with no further ideas for action beyond trying to use more words to talk Putin out of his current aggression in the Ukraine.

On Steinmeier’s meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, see,

Pilar Bonet (Moscu), “Rusia y Alemania quieren obligar a Kiev y los separatistas a pactar; Ambos países coinciden en que el fin de la guerra en Ucrania requiere acomodar los intereses de las partes en un Estado común,” 18 Noviembre 2014 (20:32 CET).

Julia Smirnova, “Steinmeier sieht Europa vor der Spaltung Außenminister Steinmeier ringt in Kiew und in Moskau um Entspannung in der Ukraine-Krise, doch optimistisch ist er nicht. Die Nato berichtet derweil von weiteren Truppenbewegungen Russlands,” Die Welt, 18. November 2014.

Alison Smale, “Germany’s Foreign Minister, a Man in the Middle
Frank-Walter Steinmeier Meets With Vladimir Putin,” New York Tims, November 19, 2014.

Putin can relax. The Europeans aren’t going to do anything to stop his ongoing military intervention in the Donbas, much less to get him to disgorge the Crimea.

The Americans, for their part, are following the Europeans’ “lead”, such as it is, which means they aren’t even in the game.

They are certainly not leading the NATO alliance, which increasingly appears to be little more than a relic of the last cold war.

Putin has invaded the Ukraine twice, annexing the Crimea, but still NATO members can’t even see their way to abrogating the 1997 partnership agreement with Russia.

They cling to illusions and past dreams which are now dead, ignoring the harsh and threatening facts and realities on the ground. Every threat is transformed into a quest for political consensus, without focusing on the real effectiveness of the response which emerges from this political process.

Imagine! They are not yet agreed on the urgency of stationing large numbers of NATO troops on the eastern front bordering Russia! They insist on complying with the 1997 partnership agreement with Russia, long after the latter has rendered its obligations into mere scraps of torn-up papers lying on the ground.

In Europe, the pacifists and appeasers remain firmly in control. Expect Putin to move swiftly on Mariupol and to continue building his land bridge to the Crimea, as soon as attention is diverted from the Ukraine or the will of the West to oppose his aggression is weakened even further still. He can sit and wait until the circumstances are propitious.

As for the United States, President Barack Obama has recently conceded in his words that Russia’s actions in the Ukraine go beond an “incursion”. But don’t expect any action to follow that verbal adjustment, or leadership from him, or any real economic sanctions that would significantly increase the pressure on Russia.

In the Middle East, Obama has demonstrated that he is impotent to restrain Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel from pouring oil on the fire by building new settlements in response to terrorist attacks by Palestinians, or to restrain the latter, as the downward spiral of violence continues, unchecked.

With respect to the Islamic State, Obama refuses to introduce combat forces that would empower the battle from the air to be truly effective, sticking to his mantra of “no combat troops” for Iraq. Still, they will eventually have to be sent in. The the costs of delay will be high.

In general, at present the United States cannot be viewed as dealing from a position of strength in its foreign affairs. Nonetheless, Obama is hoping to conclude a historic agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue. An important part of the proposed solution will depend on Russia repeocessing Iranian fuel.

This is the world we live in. There are no real leaders in major powers who are willing to act to turn back, or even halt, Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

Putin will continue his “salami technique” approach to gaining control of territory in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, and beyond.

A new Iron Curtain is descending across the face of Europe, as a new Cold War is gathering momentum.

Current governments in Europe and the United States appear unwilling to act to halt Russian advances. Putin won’t be stopped until, in the West, something “clicks”. When that might happen, not even Putin can know.

It may fall to the governments that follow those of the present appeasers to take energetic action to contain the Russians, militarily, economically, and politically.

By then, the costs and the efforts that will be required will have assumed much larger dimensions.

Along the way, accidents could happen, perhaps plungimg countries into war — with nuclear weapons in reserve.

In the meantime, there is little we citizens can do other than to sound the alarm, while trying to maintain a clear-eyed view of the turbulent forces that are sweeping down upon us.

Replacing pacifists and appeasers with real leaders to defend the West’s most sacred values

Then, as soon as we have the opportunity, we can replace the pacifists and appeasers who lead us today with real leaders, men and women who will stand up and fight to defend our most sacred values.

These values include the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter, such as the prohibition of the threat or use of force across international frontiers, compliance with treaties and other norms of international law, and the promotion and defense of the rule of law, including the protection of fundamental human rights in places like the Donbas, the Ukraine, and even Russia itself.

It is the age-old struggle between tyranny and freedom, between democracy and dictatorship, between the ideology of freedom and democracy on the one hand, and that of dictatorship upheld by guns and a boot upon the neck, on the other.

Generations of Europeans and Americans have fought in this struggle, which has progressed to a point where democracy and freedom have become the dominant ideology in the world.

Moreover, one thing has changed in this age of the Internet: We are all connected now.

Vladimir Putin will not turn back this tide.

One day the Maidan will also come to Red Square.

We await only the leaders of this generation who understand these values, and who will lead us in defending them as their impact spreads throughout the world.

The Trenchant Observer

Steinmeier-Lavrov Meeting in Moscow: Sergej Wiktorowitsch (Lawrow), Du, du liegst mir im Herzen, Du, Du machst mir viel Shmerzen, weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Steinmeier und Lawrow duzen sich!

[Steinmeier and Lavrov speak to each other with the familian “du” form of address, and on a first-name basis]

Siehe,

Julia Smirnova, “Steinmeier sieht Europa vor der Spaltung Außenminister Steinmeier ringt in Kiew und in Moskau um Entspannung in der Ukraine-Krise, doch optimistisch ist er nicht. Die Nato berichtet derweil von weiteren Truppenbewegungen Russlands,” Die Welt, 18. November 2014.

Smirnova berichtet das Folgendes:

Ein Treffen mit dem russischen Präsidenten war beim Besuch des Bundesaußenministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moskau zunächst nicht vorgesehen. Doch plötzlich wollte der Kreml-Chef ihn persönlich sprechen.

Die Besonderheit von deutsch-russischen Beziehungen betonte der russische Außenminister Sergej Lawrow schon zu Beginn seines Treffens mit Steinmeier in einer Villa im Zentrum von Moskau. Er duzte ihn und nannte beim Vornamen: “Ich schätze es, dass du, Frank, bei deiner Belastung Interesse an unserem Treffen zeigst.”

Dieser Bericht lasst man nachdenken, sich bewundern uber das Treffen, und sich vorstellen was anders die zwei Diplomaten auch sich duzend gesagt hatten:

Vielleicht hatte Steinmeier gesungen,

Du, du liegst mir im Herzen
du, du liegst mir im Sinn.
Du, du machst mir viel Schmerzen,
weißt nicht wie gut ich dir bin.
Ja, ja, ja, ja, weißt nicht wie gut ich dir bin.

So, so wie ich dich liebe
so, so liebe auch mich.
Die, die zärtlichsten Triebe
fühle ich ewig für dich.
Ja, ja, ja, ja, fühle ich ewig für dich.

Doch, doch darf ich dir trauen
dir, dir mit leichtem Sinn?
Du, du kannst auf mich bauen
weißt ja wie gut ich dir bin!
Ja, ja, ja, ja, weißt ja wie gut ich dir bin!

Und, und wenn in der Ferne,
mir, mir dein Bild erscheint,
dann, dann wünscht ich so gerne
daß uns die Liebe vereint.
Ja, ja, ja, ja, daß uns die Liebe vereint.

“Du, du, Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
du, du liegst mir im Herzen,
Du, du liegst mir im Sinn,
du, du machst mir viel Shmerzen,
Weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin.
ja, ja, ja, ja
Weisst nicht wie gut ich dir bin.

[English translation of the original:

You,a you are in my heart.
you, you are in my mind.
You, you cause me much pain,
You don’t know how good I am for you.
Yes, yes, yes, yes you don’t know how good I am for you.

So, as I love you
so, so love me too.
The most tender desires
I alone feel only for you.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, I alone feel only for you.

But, but may I trust you
you, you with a light heart?
You, you know you can rely on me
You do know how good for you I am!
Yes, yes, yes, yes you do know how good for you I am!

And, and if in the distance,
it seems to me like your picture,
then, then I wish so much
that we were united in love.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, that we were united in love.]

You, you, Sergey Victorovich,
You, you are in my heart.
you, you are in my mind.
You, you cause me much pain,
You don’t know how good I am for you.
Yes, yes, yes, yes you don’t know how good I am for you.

Oder vielleicht hatte Steinmeier gesungen,

“Ach, du lieber Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
Alles ist hin.
Geld ist weg,
Maidl’s weg,
Ukraine’s weg,
Alles weg,
Alles ist hin.

“Ach, du lieber Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
Hor mal auf den Krieg zu fuhren,
Hor mal auf dein Krieg gegen die Ukraine
zu fuhren,
Damit wir immer Freunde bleiben
und diese schone Lieder singen konnen,
Bitte, mein lieber Sergej,
Hor mal auf den Krieg zu fuhren.

“Ach, du lieber Kriegsverbrecher,
Ach, du lieber Kriegsverbrecher,
Hor mal auf den Krieg zu fuhren,
Hor mal auf dein Krieg gegen die Ukraine
zu fuhren,
Damit wir immer Freunde bleiben
und so diese schone Lieder
immer singen konnen.
Bitte, mein lieber Sergej,
Hor mal auf den Krieg zu fuhren.

Ach, du lieber Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
Alles ist hin.
Krim ist weg,
Donezk’s weg,
Lugansk’s weg,
Alles weg,
Ach, du lieber Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
Alles is hin.

Krim ist weg,
Donbass’s weg,
Alles weg,
Alles ist hin.”

[English translation of original, “:Ach du lieber Augustin”, as adapted:

Money’s gone,
girlfriend’s gone,
Ukraine’s gone,
All is lost, Sergey Victorovich!
O, you dear Sergey Victorovich,
All is lost!

Oh, you dear Sergey Victorovich,
Stop now making war,
Stop now making your war against
the Ukraine,
So we can always remain friends
and can sing these beautiful songs,
Please, my dear Sergey,
Stop now making war.

Oh, my dear war criminal,
Oh, my dear war criminal,
Stop now making war,
Stop now making your war against
the Ukraine,
So we can always remain friends
and can always sing these beautiful songs,
Please, my dear Sergey,
Stop now making war.

Oh, my dear Sergej Wiktorowitsch,
All is lost!
The Crimea is gone,
Donetsk is gone,
Lugansk is gone,
All is lost!
Oh, my dear Sergey Victorovich,
All is lost!

Crimea is gone,
Donbass is gone,
All is gone,
All is lost!]

Der scharfsinniger Beobachter
(The Trenchant Onserver)

Mistral Warships: U.S. Congress should ban defense contracts with France until Hollande guarantees non-delivery to Russia

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Developing

For the latest machinations by France and Russia regardind delivery of “The Vladilovstok” Mistral-class attack warship to Russia, see

www.nomistralforputin.com

, and here.

The registration of “The Vladilovstok”, the Mistral-class warship, has reportedly passed to the Russian federation and then back to France again, while the ship itself has “disappeared” from the maritime vessel satellite tracking system several times during the last week.

Former President Nicholas Sarkozy, who pushed the Mistral deal through when he was in office, is now shamefacedly pushing for delivery of “The Vladilovstok” to Russia. In doing so, he has demonstrated that he is not fit to play an important role in determining the defense policy of France, or NATO.

Current French President Francois Hollande, who has a treacherous record vis-a-vis his NATO allies in dealing with Russia regarding the Mistral warships, could easily connive with other officials, both French anf Russian, to pass the warship to Russian possession at any hour.

To date, NATO has done nothing to protect itself from the loss of the ten-year technological advantage in naval warfare that will occur if “The Vladilovstok” ends up in Russian hands. A Russian crew capable of sailing the ship has just been trained by the French at Ste. Navarre in France, where they remain.

To forestall a defense disaster that could take place literally at any minute, the following steps should be taken immediately:

1. Legislation should be introduced in the U.S. Congress, and adopted, that will immediately halt the performance of or entering into any defense contracts of any kind with French companies, until French President Francois Hollande orders the departure from France of the Russian navy crew of the “Vladilovstok” that has been trained in France, and definitively cancels the contract for the delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia.

2. Other NATO member states should adopt similar legislation at the eraliesr possible date.

3. Officials such as U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should think three times before ever repeating again the statement that the decision to deliver the Mistral-class warship is a matter exclusively within the perogatives of French national sovereignty.

4. NATO should immediately convene an emergency ministerial meeting to adopt decisions recommending a ban the sale of the Mistral-class warships to Russia, while the EU should immediately add a ban on the performance of the Mistrals contract, and any delivery of “The Vladlovstok” to Russia.

These steps may take some time, while France and other states friendly to Russia could block any further EU sanctions related to the defense industry. That is why steps (1) and (2) need to be taken immediately.

If NATO can’t defend itself from its own members, how can it ever defend its members against Russian military aggression?

NATO members will not be able to rest until the decision to deliver or not deliver the Mistral-class warship is taken out of the hands of Francois Hollande, whose perfidious character has already been amply demonstrated with respect to Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the Mistral deal itself.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin at G-20 in Brisbane: Shun the Aggressor!

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Latest Developments and Overview of Situation Regarding Ukraine

See:

(1) Julia Smirvova, “Die Angst vor der Eskalation in der Ostukraine,” Die Welt, 14. November 2014.(Aktualisiert um 9:54 Uhr)

Kämpfer in Uniform strömen über die russische Grenze in die Ostukraine, die Separatisten rücken vor. Russland nennt das “propagandistische Fälschung”. Merkel zeigt sich sehr besorgt.

(2) “Vor dem G20-Gipfel: Nato-Chef greift Putin scharf an,” Der Spiegel, 14. November 2014 (7:09 Uhr).

Die Waffenruhe in der Ostukraine ist gebrochen. Der Westen gibt Russlands Präsidenten die Schuld – überraschend geht Nato-Generalsekretär Stoltenberg jetzt Putin persönlich an. Beim G20-Gipfel wird Kanzlerin Merkel wohl wieder eine Schlüsselrolle zukommen.

(3) “Go for Putin!”, The Trenchant Observer, November 13, 2014.

(4) “Merkel points to needed approach toward Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, October 19, 2014. The text follows:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a striking photograph showing her pointing sharply at Vladimir Putin, has offered a powerful symbol of the attitude the West and other civilized countries should adopt toward the Russian dictator:

–Call him out for his aggression in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine, at every meeting, and every time he speaks.

–Earnestly rebut every argument Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, make to justify their seizure and annexation of the Crimea, and their invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

–Don’t let Putin and Russia forget, not even for a moment, that none of their arguments and lies have any persuasive power, given the lies they have told and the ongoing Russian aggression against the Ukraine—in open and flagrant violation of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter and mandatory or peremptory international law (jus cogens)

–Be as relentless as Putin and Lavrov and any other Russian official or propaganda mouthpiece in defending the most basic values of the civilized nations of the world, embodied in the U.N. Charter’s fundamental principles and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

–Follow Winston Churchill’s advice to the graduating class at his high school after World War II: “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

See the photograph of Merkel pointing at Putin, and the context, in the article below:

LAURENCE NORMAN and GIOVANNI LEGORANO in Milan and JAMES MARSON in Moscow, “Leaders Make Little Progress in Ukraine Crisis Talks; Merkel, Putin Spar Over Crimea in ‘Terse’ Exchange,” Wall Street Journal, Updated Oct. 17, 2014(2:37 p.m. ET).

The Trenchant Observer

Go for Putin!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Commentary

The contempt Vladimir Putin evidently feels for Barack Obama and the West was revealed in a split-second at the APEC summit in Beijing these last two days, when Putin slapped Obama on the back in a gesture which is often friendly but here was one of utter contempt.

We advised Obama years ago to be reticent with physical contact with foreign leaders from very different cultures, but he has not followed the advice. He puts his hands all over people, with backslaps, grabbing an arm or an elbow, in what is easily identifiable as Alfa-male behavior.

Well, this time, Putin returned the favor, with backslapping that hardly concealed his feelings of contempt for the U.S. president.

Putin was a very interesting character to watch at the summit, from his backslapping of Obama to his draping a coat or shawl over the shoulders of Chinese Leader Xi Jinping’s wife, which she immediately discarded.

How would you like Adolf Hitler draping his coat over your shoulders as he was invading “rump” Czechoslovakia in March 1939?

Watching Putin move about the conference, with an irrepressible smirk on his face instead of a smile, you could almost hear the derisive laughter in his head as he knew full-well what was underway in the Ukraine.

The other APEC leaders could do and say as they liked, but they would soon learn, once again, the value of all their pleasantries and high-minded thoughts, all of their moral appeals and “moral pressure”, in the face of the iron and steel of the Russian military machine, deploying once again its might disguised behind the veil of his brilliantly conceived and now proven new form of “stealth warfare”.

Russia had the military might and was more than willing to use it, almost with “joy”, against the feckless and spineless West, “led” by that tall man he had just stretched to slap on the back.

See Naftali Benadavid (Brussels) and Gregory L. White (Moscow), “NATO Sees ‘Significant Buildup’ of Russian Forces in Ukraine; Large Convoys Reported to be Moving Into the Region,” Wall Sreet Journal, Updatedy November 12, 2014 (7:55 p.m. ET).

Watching Putin in Beijing, one might easily feel with indignation that he, the great and rising Dictator of 2014, had no right to be present among these other leaders, heads of state of civilized nations which still stood by the United Nations Charter, and its obligations to settle international disputes by peaceful means, and not to resort to the threat or use of force against another state except in self-defense or perhaps in other narrowly circumscribed cases such as to halt genocide.

No, Putin didn’t belong there, and he doesn’t deserve to be treated with ceremony as a head of state, at least not while he is engaged in the invasion of another country.

He should be shunned, the way he was shunned prior to François Hollande’s invitation to attend the D-Day commemoration exercises at Normandy on June 6, and then to have dinner at the Elysée palace–the same evening Obama had to dine with Hollande at a Parisian restaurant–and then Hollande’s lifting of the suspension of the delivery of the Mistral-class warship.

The delivery has been suspended again, to avoid inclusion in the new EU “stage 3″ sanctions list on September 5, but who knows for how long? Invitations to a delivery ceremony on November 14 were even sent out on October 8, though French officials then said conditions were not “ripe” for delivery “at this time”.

Yes, Putin should be shunned! In general, those who launch aggressive wars, presumptive war criminals, should be shunned.

No more telephone calls from other world leaders. No more meetings between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov. No more pretense of civility when the Russians are invading another country and killing innocent people, military and civilians alike. No more handshakes with rogues who threaten nuclear conflict, or to invade other neighbors if they don’t get their way.

And while we’re shunning Putin and his supporters, in Russia and abroad, maybe the leaders of the West can drop their delicacy and call things by their real names, like “invasion” instead of “incursion”.

Maybe we can even get some of our leading newspapers, like the Wall Street Journal, to drop the practice of reporting NATO and Ukrainian charges about Russian military aggression, while dutifully noting that Russia denies the charges, e.g., that they have sent troops and tanks into the Donbas.

Yes, maybe we could even get an American newspaper to boldly report the facts of the Russian infiltration and invasion of the eastern Ukraine!

And if we could do that, maybe we could even take the battle directly to Putin, and go directly after his monstrous lies and deceptions by demonstrating, in the U.N. Security Council and elsewhere, that there is irrefutable evidence that his assertions are false, and that Russia has invaded the eastern Ukraine, that Russia is at this very moment intensifying its invasion, and that there are hundreds of Russian tanks, artillery pieces, air-defense systems, and other equipment, and thousands of Russian combat troops in the Donbas.

U.S. military and other intelligence agencies undoubtedly have massive amounts of proof that the denials of the Russians of military involvement in the eastern Ukraine are blatant and outrageous lies.

Understandably, methods and sources need to be protected, within limits. But surely in Washington there must be some “big picture” officials who understand the importance of rebutting Putin’s lies, destroying his credibility, and laying out the truth with evidence–e.g., satellite photos showing the movements of tanks and troops, accounts from captured soldiers, intercepted communications, and a marshaling of what is already in the public record.

In a word, Washington should lay out the facts, the truth, with concrete evidence to back up its factual assertions.

If the Russians still deny the obvious facts, as they undoubtedly will, the U.S. should put forward a resolution in the U.N. Security Council establishing an impartial fact-finding commission, drawing on the work of other U.N. bodies such as the Human Rights Council, to investigate and report the truth about what has happened in the Donbas, who the “separatists” really are, and who among Russia, the “separatists” and the Ukraine is complying with and who is violating the provisions of the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

Go after Putin! Refute his propaganda with impartial determination and reporting of the facts!

Show the world, beyond any doubt, the truths that rebut Putin’s shameless lies.

Shun him. Let him threaten the U.S. with his long-range bombers. The U.S. knows how to shoot them down. If Putin harbors any misconceptions over who would prevail in a nuclear showdown with the West, Washington should make it clear to him that he will be facing not only Barack Obama but the united military and security forces of the United States, NATO, and other allies.

But the U.S. needs to get its act together. To do so, the U.S. will have to do better than the incoherence in communications revealed by the following quote from the Wall Street Jounal article cited above:

Russia is sending fresh convoys of troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine, NATO said, and threatening to dispatch warplanes on maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico, flexing its military muscles in a Cold War-style escalation with the West.

U.S. officials said they couldn’t confirm the new incursion into Ukraine announced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and an international monitoring group in the region, but accused Russia of repeatedly violating the terms of a peace pact signed two months ago.

Really! The U.S. can’t confirm statements by U.S. General Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe and Commander of NATO?

As “U.S. officials couldn’t confirm the new incursion into Ukraine”, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was denouncing it at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

See

(1) United Nations Security Council, Press Release, “Security Council Briefed on Fast-Breaking Developments in Ukraine, as Political Official Warns Failure to Secure Russian-Ukrainian Border Obstructing Peace, ” U.N. Security Council, 7311th Meeting (PM), U.N. Doc. SC/11645 (2014), November 12, 1014.

(2) Ukraine – Security Council, 7311th meeting, 12 Nov 2014 – 7311th meeting of the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine, Webcast (English)

(3) The Webcast of the 7311th Meeting of the Security Council on November 12, in the original language of the speaker, is found here.

Obama needs to bring experienced adults in to take charge of his national security team and its spokespersons, at the earliest opportunity.

We need to communicate clearly and strongly to Putin. This kind of incompetence does not help.

The Wall Street Joutnal, for its part, didn’t even bother to report on the Security Council meeting, which suggests the need for adult supervision there as well.

The Trenchant Observer

U.N. Security Council meets in emergency session (link to video); NATO confirms columns of Russian tanks, artillery and troops crossing border into eastern Ukraine; Kiev denounces imminent large-scale invasion

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Developing

See

(1) Ewen MacAskill (defence correspondent), “Russian tanks and troops crossing into Ukraine, says Nato commander General Philip Breedlove warns of renewed war as border between two countries becomes ‘completely porous’,” November 12, 2014 (13.00 EST).

Nato’s chief military commander has said that columns of Russian tanks, artillery and troops have been spotted crossing the border into Ukraine over the last two days, amid fears of a renewal of all-out conflict in the war-torn east of the country.

Moscow has denied that any columns have crossed the border and challenged Nato to produce evidence.

Philip Breedlove, the US general who is supreme allied commander Europe, speaking in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Wednesday, said: “What worries me the most is that we have a situation now that the former international border between Ukraine and Russia is completely porous, it is completely wide open.”

He added: “Forces, money, support, supplies, weapons are flowing back and forth across this border completely at will and that is not a good situation.”

(2) Osten der Ukraine: Nato bestätigt Militärtransporte aus Russland; Panzer, Artillerie und Truppen: Die Nato hat Berichte bestätigt, wonach Russland seine militärische Präsenz im Osten der Ukraine ausbaut. Die Regierung in Moskau dementiert,” Der Spiegel, 12. November 2014 (14:32 Uhr).

Kiew/Sofia – Die Nato beobachtet, dass “zahlreiche Kolonnen” mit militärischer Ausrüstung von Russland aus in den Osten der Ukraine transportiert werden. “In den vergangenen zwei Tagen haben wir dasselbe gesehen, was die OSZE berichtet: Wir haben Kolonnen russischer Ausrüstung gesehen, vor allem russische Panzer, russische Artillerie, russische Luftabwehrsysteme und russische Kampftruppen, die in die Ukraine gebracht werden”, sagte Nato-Oberkommandeur Philip Breedlove. Die genaue Anzahl der Einheiten sei unklar, doch bestünde Einigkeit, dass es “zahlreiche Kolonnen” seien.

(3) U.N. Security Council Meeting on Ukraine; The U.N. Security Council held a meeting on Ukraine, as Russian combat troops, tanks, and artillery moved into the country, C-SPAN, November 12, 2014. The video link is here.

The Trenchant Observer

Ukrainian military expert and politician charges OSCE Observers with bias

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

After reading various anodyne OSCE observer reports which note, for example, that so many columns of tanks and military vehicles without license plates or insignia were observed moving within the eastern Ukraine, or so many trucks carrying soldiers with no identifying insignia were similarly on the move, one must question whether the observers are adequately fulfilling their assigned role, or are going out of the way not to report evidence that the tanks, artillery, GRAD rocket launchers, troops and material they are observing are in fact Russian, and in fact part of a continuing influx of Russian weapons and troops into the Donbas.

It seems elementary that members of the observer teams should not include individuals from the country which is allegedly invading the Ukraine, but this is apparently not the case.

There appear to be grounds to suspect that the OSCE observer mission, charged with overseeing the ceasefire established by the September 5 Minsk Protocol, and overseeing the integrity of the Russian-Ukrainian border, are not performing their duties in a vigorous and impartial manner.

Why else would their reports be so lacking in conclusions and indeed in utility? The border is wide open, according to NATO and Ukrainian sources, and the ceasefire has broken down as military clashes escalate in Donetsk and also other areas of the Donbass.

Why are the OSCE observer reports telling us so little about what is going on in the Donbas and who is responsible for the violations of the ceasefire and other provisions of the Minsk Protocol?

A leading Ukrainian military expert and politician has now changed that the OSCE observers have been biased, citing a number of specific instances.

See “‘Einseitige Berichte': Ukrainische Kritik an OSZEDer Militärexperte und künftige Abgeordnete Dmytro Tymtschuk erhebt schwere Vorwürfe gegen die OSZE,” Die Presse (Wien), 11. November 2014 (19:36 Uhr).

Why are we not getting full, informative and unbiased reports from the OSCE on ceasefire violations and who is responsible for them, and on compliance with the other commitments among the 12 points of the Minsk Protocol, including monitoring of the border and border incursions?

Instead of reporting on intensive observational and investigative activities, with a view to finding out who is responsible for violations, what we are getting are essentially reports on what the observers heard when they went and met with different people on visits that sound arranged. There is no overarching narrative, and no easy way to access all of the reports that have been filed by searching on the OSCE website. The information provided in the reports is not aggregated, either geographically or on a time line.

It would be useful for the terms of reference to be piblished on the OSCE website.

Perhaps it is time to take the Minsk Protocol to the U.N. Security Council, and to table a resolution for adoption which would provide for additional and much more vigorous monitoring of the Minsk Protocol’s provisions by U.N. monitors, who would reinforce the efforts of the OSCE.

for that matter, given the lackluster performance of the OSCE in the Ukraine, it may be time to question the utility of the organization itself, in Europe today, when countries like Russia no konger demonstrate through their actions any commitment to the principles upon which the organization was founded,

Has the OSCE become an anachronism, an organization which now only serves to feed the illusions of European pacifists and appeasers who refuse to look current realities in the face and call them by their true names?

in a word, does the OSCE today only operate, in effect if not intent, to serve the purposes a Russia now bent on military aggression and conquest?

See

“Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (September 5, 2014),” The Trenchant Observer, September 7, 2014.

“Poroshenko’s capitulation: The new “special status” law and implementation of the Minsk Protocol,” The Trenchant Observer, September 17, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE: Veterans’ Day, 2011: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?”

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

First published, November 11, 2011

My uncle died in a field in northern France with a German bullet in his head. To him, and all the other veterans of America’s wars, I am immensely grateful for his, and their, sacrifice.

The Vision of Peace After World War II

At the end of World War II, the leaders of the world had a clear vision of the horrors of war, and acted with resolution to bring wars to a halt through the creation of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, and by codifying the international law governing the use of force in Article 2 paragraph 4 and Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. Article 2 paragraph 4 prohibited the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of members of the organization, a prohibition later extended to include all states. Article 51 provided for an exception in the case of an “armed attack”. These provisions have become customary international law and, importantly, also aquired the status of jus cogens or peremptory law from which there can be no exception or derogation by agreement.

A Vision of Perpetual War

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama and the United States are currently embarked on a policy based on the assumption of perpetual war. The implementation of this policy includes targeted assassinations through drone strikes and other means, the establishment of new drone bases throughout the northern part of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and the development of new generations of drones some of which are as small as insects.

This policy has been implemented with little regard for the international law governing the use of force, and even less regard for the duty of the United States to contribute to the development of international law and institutions that can help ensure the security of the United States and other countries in the future.

These actions indicate that the United States has no current vision of peace as an overriding goal to be achieved, and no coherent strategy for actually achieving this objective.

Without the goal of peace, we are not likely to take the actions necessary to achieve peace, or to give those actions the urgent priority they should receive.

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

In these circumstances, one is reminded of Pete Seeger’s famous song entitled “Where have all the flowers gone?” For the lyrics, click here.

Pete Seeger’s performance of this song is available on YouTube here.

See also, pasquetflowerponderings.blogspot.com, “Grandpa’s War – A Veteran’s Day Post,” November 11, 2011, which contains recollections of America’s recent wars, and a link to a clip of Pete Seeger singing ” Where have all the flowers gone” with a moving montage of photographs evoking American experiences of war, created by the TheSpadecaller in 2008.

Joan Baez, in a more recent performance of the song, can be found on YouTube here.

Marlene Dietrich’s recording of this song in English is also found on YouTube here.

For Dietrich’s performance of the song in French, see “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” here.

For her performance of the German version of this song, see “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind”, here.

Marlene Dietrich, in a version of perhaps her most famous song, “Lili Marleen”, written in 1915 and later a hit among troops on both sides during World War II, takes us back to November 11, 1918 and the terrible war that preceded the armistice on that day. Her recording of the song, in English, is found on YouTube here. The original German version of the song is found here.

Obama’s Vision of Perpetual War and International Law

In his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech in Oslo, on December 10, 2009, President Obama said:

In the wake of such destruction (World War II), and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

Closely parsed, these statements are full of contradictions, as when President Obama affirms:

(1) “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
(2) “To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.”
(3) “I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation”; and
(4) “Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.”

Affirmation (1) accepts violent conflict as inevitable. (2) states that all nations must adhere to the norms that govern the use of force. (3) states that he, the president, “like any head of state”, reserves the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend his nation; and (4) states he is convinced adhering to “international standards” strengthens those who do.

These contradictions in Obama’s thinking, it is submitted, have contributed to the incoherence of U.S. foreign policy, particularly when measured against the requirements of international law, and the historical burden of strengthening international law and building better international institutions, which is no less important today than it was in 1945.

Reading these excerpts and the whole speech reveals that the president does not have a clear vision of peace as the goal, or a strategy on how to achieve that goal. While he pays lip service to observing international law, he insists that he has the paradoxical right–“like any head of state”–to violate it if necessary, in his view. So much for the concept of international law governing the use of force.

Without the clear and overriding goal of peace or a strategy for achieving peace, it is hard to see how we and other nations can view as the highest priority taking the steps necessary to achieve peace.

President Obama and the United States currently seem to have no overarching vision of peace, or strategy for achieving peace. As a result, their policies and actions are not guided by the pursuance of this goal in a strategic sense, but rather only by the demands of meeting with expediency the challenges of the moment.

By way of contrast, consider, if you will, the vision of the founders of the United Nations in 1945, particularly as set forth in the Preamble and Articles 1, 2, and 51 of the Charter.

We in the United States, like citizens in other countries, need a strong vision of peace and a coherent strategy for achieving it. Consequently, we need a president who has such a vision, and is guided by it.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin approves of 1939 Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact and partitioning of Poland

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Russian President Valdimir Putin, in a meeting with historians, has voiced approval of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop non-aggression treaty signed on August 23, 1939, a week before the German invasion of Poland. In a secret protocol to the treaty, which Moscow did not acknowledge until 1989, Germany and Russia agreed to the partition of Poland between them.

See

(1) “Nichtangriffspakt: Putin verteidigt Hitler-Stalin-Pakt; Bei einer Historikerveranstaltung in Moskau hat Wladimir Putin den Hitler-Stalin-Pakt gerechtfertigt: Der sei keine schlechte Idee gewesen,” Der Spiegel, 7. November 2014 (13:39 Uhr).

(2) Tom Parfitt (Moscow), “Vladimir Putin says there was nothing wrong with Soviet Union’s pact with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany; Russian president says he sees nothing wrong with treaty with Nazi Germany that led to the carve-up of Poland – and blames Britain for destroying any chance of an anti-fascist front,” The Telegraph, November 6, 2014 (1:15 p.m.).

“Serious research must show that those were the foreign policy methods then,” he said, adding: “The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany. People say: ‘Ach, that’s bad.’ But what’s bad about that if the Soviet Union didn’t want to fight, what’s bad about it?”

Secret protocols of the pact in which the Nazis and the Communists agreed to divide up Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Poland into spheres of influence were officially denied by the Kremlin until 1989.

More than 20,000 arrested and captured Poles were executed by the Soviet secret police in the Katyn massacre in 1940. The Nazis began an extermination campaign that would eventually lead to the deaths of three million Jews in Poland alone.

Mr Putin appeared to imply the secret protocols continued to be a matter of dispute today, saying, “people still argue about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and accuse the Soviet Union of dividing up Poland”.

In 2009, the Russian leader condemned the Nazi-Soviet pact as “immoral” but said France and the UK had destroyed any chance for an anti-fascist front with the Munich Agreement.

This latest statement is is yet another in a growing number of pieces of evidence, consisting of both words and actions, that Putin has become an admirer of Adolf Hitler and is copying his methods.

Putin’s statements are an attempt to rewrite history.

What is particularly dangerous about his assertions is that there is no one in the West in a high position who is providing detailed, factual rebuttals of them.

With budget cuts and the transfer of the U.S. Information Agency to the State Department, U.S. “public diplomacy”, like that in other allied countries, is effectively dead. Consider, for example, the simple fact that the BBC World Service no longer operates under the supervision of the Foreign Office.

No one is calling Putin out for his lies and distortions of history, just as no one has bothered to refute in detail and in a sustained manner his preposterous international legal arguments or the blatant lies and misrepresentations his propaganda machine churns out, night and day.

The risk is that Putin, not hearing any rebuttals, may come to believe that his assertions are generally accepted in the West. Together with the policy of appeasement followed by the leaders of the United States and Europe in response to Russian invasion and “annexation” of the Crimea, and the ongoing Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine, Putin could easily assume that he could intensify his aggression in the Donbas without any significant adverse consequences.

France is still weighing whether to deliver “The Vladilovstok”, a Mistral-class attack warship and regional command and control system, to Russia in November (invitations to a November 14 delivery ceremony were sent out on October 8).

The EU is considering imposing further “sanctions” on additional individuals in Russia, though these are not really sanctions in the true sense of the word. The idea that such measures could do anything beyond assuaging the guilt of Europeans over doing nothing to defend the Ukraine is ludicrous.

The United States continues to refuse to provide the Ukraine with the military assistance and training, including “lethal” weapons, that Ukrainian President Petro Petroshenko requested many months ago. It is not even considering further sanctions, at least publicly.

We are living in a world where the structures of international peace and security are being hollowed out, losing strength and deterrent force every day, as the international order we have known for over 70 years begins to collapse.

The U.S. has demonstrated over the last six years that it is not capable of exercising effective foreign policy leadership in the world. Unfortunately, there is no one else with the clear vision and the iron will required to do so.

The earliest the U.S. might even begin to exercise such leadership in the world is January, 1917, after a new president and a new team take office. But there is nothing at all certain about that prospect.

One is reminded once again of the first stanza of “The Second Coming”, William Butler Yeats’ celebrated poem written after World War I, which reads as follows:

The Second Coming (published 1921)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats

The entire poem including the second stanza can be found here.

The Trenchant Observer

Russia poised for much larger military intervention in Ukraine

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Roger Cohen of the New York Times points to the grave dangers of further Russian aggression in the Ukraine, and the temptation Washington might feel to sacrifice the Ukraine in exchange for vital Russian assistance in making a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue.

See Roger Cohen, “The Iran-Ukraine Affair,” New York Times, November 10, 2014.

Cohen suggests Putin may have designs on all of the Ukraine, while pointing out the formidable military force he has amassed within and on the border of the eastern Ukraine. He reports:

…There is every reason to believe he has designs on all Ukraine. The West’s mistake has been to think that Putin is not serious in wishing to reconstitute the Soviet Union in new guise.

The current Russian buildup has all the signs of preparation for an offensive. Large, unmarked convoys of heavy weapons and tanks manned by personnel without insignia on their uniforms (like those who took over Crimea) have been seen rumbling toward the front lines in rebel-held territory. Sophisticated artillery and ground-to-air missile systems have been moved into position. Units all the way from the east and far north of Russia have been massed. You don’t move military units thousands of miles for nothing.

A retired NATO general who recently held talks with the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, told me that intelligence estimates are of some 45,000 regular Russian troops on the border; tens of thousands of Russian irregulars of various stripes inside Ukraine organized by a smaller number of Russian officers and military personnel; some 450 battle tanks and over 700 pieces of artillery.

“Ukraine has no real fighting capacity to face all this,” he said….

Cohen connects the dots, and draws the right conclusions.

Watch what Vladimir Putin does, not what he says.

Not only the future of the Ukraine — and freedom from tyranny like that East Germans escaped when the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago — but also the whole future of NATO and the Atlantic Alliance are at stake.

The U.S. should impose harsher sanctions on Russia today, for its ongoing military aggression in the eastern Ukraine and its undermining of the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014, including the ceasefire and 12-step peace plan it established.

See

“The Russia-Ukraine War: Minsk Protocol near collapse; What is at stake; Harsher sanctions against Russia needed,” The Trenchant Observer, November 3, 2014 (updated).

The Trenchant Observer