European and American leaders repeat grave mistakes in efforts to appease Putin on Ukraine

Updated February 5, 2015 (7:45 p.m. ET)


(1) Julia Smirniva (Moskau), “Die verzweifelte Suche nach Frieden für die Ukraine Die deutsche Kanzlerin, Frankreichs Staatschef und der US-Außenminister flogen zu Gesprächen nach Kiew. Die ukrainische Regierung erwartet Hilfe in der Krise – es steht viel auf dem Spiel,” Die Zeit, 5. Februar 2015.

(2) ANTON TROIANOVSKI (Berlin), PHILIP SHISHKIN (Kiev), and GREGORY L. WHITE (Moscow), “Western Leaders Scramble to Calm Conflict in Ukraine
Moscow Warns Any Military Aid Will Be Seen as Threat to Russian Security,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2015 (Updated 12:27 p.m. ET).


Once you’ve checked your principles at the door, principles like the U.N. Charter’s prohibition of the threat or use of force across international frontiers, or the jus cogens principle of international law that territorial gains achieved by military conquest can never be recognized, then everything is possible.

With no moorings, everything seems possible and anything may seem to make sense.

Even a desperate trip by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, recalling the desperate trips to Munich by Edouard Daladier of France and Neville Chamberlain of Britain in September, 1938, may for a moment seem to make sense.

The Chamberlain and Daladier trips led to the the signing of the Munich Pact on the evening of September 29 / 30, 1938. In that agreement the West, breaking existing treaty commitments to Czechoslovakia, betrayed the Czech government of Edward Benes by ratifying Adolf Hitler’s seizure of the German-speaking Sudetenland, which was part of Czechoslovakia.

Now Merkel and Hollande will go down in history as the appeasers who would give sovereign powers over Ukrainian territory to Vladimir Putin, at the barrel of a gun. Just like in 1938.

Karl Marx was right when he said history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.

Putin does not keep his agreements. This is not a secret. It means that even if “successful” the farcical diplomacy of appeasement now underway by Merkel and Hollande, with Barack Obama actively participating from the sidelines, can gain only a few weeks of peace.

In the words of Neville Chamberlin after the signing of the Munich Pact, an agreement in Moscow might bring “peace in our time”.

But, as in Europe in the 1930’s, such “peace in our time” would not be likely to last for any significant period of time. The last agreement the Russians made in Berlin on January 21, 2015, to withdraw armor from an agreed demarcation line in the eastern Ukraine, didn’t last a day.


Original article

The American and European tragedy of pacifist leaders seeking to appease Putin, desperately begging him to be nice, continues unabated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will fly off to Moscow on Friday to make personal appeals for mercy to Putin, the Dictator and Aggressor who has invaded the Crimea and purported to annex it, and who is now intensifying his invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

To “pressure” Putin to stop his broadening war against the Ukraine, the European foreign ministers have agreed “in principle” to add 19 individuals and nine entities to the sanctions list, These reportedly include five Russian officials and one Russian entity.

To date, there are 132 individuals and 28 entities on the sanctions list.

Putin has not been impressed, nor will he be by the fool’s errand Merkel and Hollande will undertake in traveling to Moscow on Friday.

Neither the EU nor the U.S. has been willing to supply “lethal” weapons to Kiev, for fear of antagonizing the aggressor.

Putin’s contempt for them is demonstrated by his charge that any such supply of weapons would be a major escalation of the conflict.

Moreover, the idea of negotiating anything with Putin, given the fact that his word is worthless, is absurd.

The April 17, 2014 Geneva agreement, the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014, the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014, the January 21, 2015 Berlin agreement between Russia and the Ukraine to withdraw heavy armor from a demarcation line agreed in the Minsk Memorandum, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and the United Nations Charter (paragraph 2 paragraph 4 probiting the use of force) are all solemn agreements Putin has brazenly violated, and continues to violate.

The current pacifists and appeasers who lead the U.S. and Europe are hopelessly incompetent in dealing with Russian military aggression. They have tried appeasement and it has failed. But they don’t seem to get the point.

They continue to talk to the terrorists, the Russians, those responsible for over 5,400 killed in the Donbas since April, with words, with telephone calls and meetings and even desperate, ill-advised trips to see the Aggressor in his lair in Moscow.

They have nothing but words to offer. They are unwilling to even provide Kiev with arms in fulfillment of the idea of collective security and pursuant to their legal right of “collective self-defense” under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

They are unwilling to act to defend the postwar political and legal order, or even the European Union and NATO.

They are fools, on fools’ errands.

America and the West must await new leaders who are willing to abandon the road of appeasement, and who are prepared to act energetically to contain Putin and Russia in the New Cold War, which is already fully in progress.

The West awaits, and requires, new leadership.

For starters, the negotiations with Putin and Russia should be taken away from France and Germany–who appointed them?–and put under the joint leadership of the Council of Europe under Donald Trusk and NATO.

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.