The sheer mind-numbing incompetence of Obama’s White House foreign policy team; Ukraine—continuing pacifism and appeasement in the West


You can’t make this stuff up.

The sheer, mind-numbing incompetence of the White House foreign policy team surpasses the wildest leaps of the imagination. For example,

1. The White House distributes the name of the current CIA station chief in Kabul to the press pool accompanying the President on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

“Surprise! We’ve outed the CIA station chief!” To date, no head has rolled, though there has been an attempt to blame it on the military.

2. President Obama agrees to meet with French President Francois Hollande before the latter meets with Vladimir Putin in Paris, both on Thursday night. The dinner with Obama is at a restaurant, whereas Putin is eating at the Elysee Palace.

This is Obama’s version of managing alliance relationships. Further, Angela Merkel is meeting with Putin in Frankfurt on Friday.

Meanwhile, Putin’s agents are waging war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine, while Russian “volunteers” are pouring into the Ukraine, whose border forces have come under intense and coordinated attack. Coordinated by whom? Who do you think? The Albanians?

If you’ve ever wondered about that smug “I just ate the goldfish and they’re inviting me for dessert” smile on former KGB agent Vladimir Putin’s face, reread the preceding paragraphs.

Incompetence at the highest levels, by “the gang who couldn’t shoot straight”, and their leader.

Obama seems to have “attention deficit disorder”. He doesn’t seem to be able to track the moving ball with his eyes. To keep his eye on the ball. Nor does he seem to understand how his actions will be interpreted.

He travels to Eastern Europe to reassure NATO’s eastern allies, with more words, that America stands behind them, instead of acting to halt and reverse Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine by adopting serious economic sanctions, and pressuring the Europeans to do the same. Those actions, not words, would reassure our allies in Eastern Europe–and Japan and other countries neighboring China.

Hollande, whose sense of loyalty was recently displayed when he was caught by the press sneaking out of the Elysee Palace on a motorcycle to meet his girlfriend in a nearby house, leading to the departure of his official girlfriend from the Elysee Palace, has apparently been flipped by the National Front’s strong showing in the May 25 elections for the European Parliament.

What Angela Merkel’s story is can only be guessed, but the steadfastness of Germany is not beyond doubt, as suggested by former SPD Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder’s celebration of his 70th birthday with his good friend Vladimir Putin in St. Petersberg last month.

The pacifists and the appeasers in the White House and in Europe look like they have carried the day, and can’t wait to get back to “business as usual” with Russia and Putin, at the earlest opportunity.

The existing structure of international order is facing its toughest test since 1945.

So, now that it is clear that Europe is not willing to undergo any pain to uphold that international order, e.g., through the adoption of third-stage, sectoral sanctions, leaders want to meet with Putin.

“Let’s be reasonable. Let’s mediate between Putin and Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko.”

Between Russia and the country it is at this very moment raping.

What is to be mediated?

What it will take to get the rapist to desist from a rape in progress? Which of the rapist’s demands must be met, including immunity from criminal prosecution or even civil penalties? How the rapist can rebuild a relationship of trust with other members of the community, without expressing any regret?

In the international sphere, invasion and annexation of a portion of another country is a far more serious transgression than is rape in the domestic legal system, however heinous the latter crime may be.

Does anyone remember “the rape of Nanjing” in 1937-38, by the Japanese?

Without the U.N. Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force, and serious efforts to uphold its effectiveness in cases of violation, how do the appeasers and pacifists in Washington and Europe imagine that the international order and international security will evolve?

If the present structure of international order within the framework of international law and the U.N. Charter is to be abandoned, what will take its place?

Shouldn’t the pacifists and appeasers in Washington and Europe be answering these questions? Are they?

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.