Watch the ball move: Obama moves attention to Mosul, distracting from abject appeasement by Merkel, EU, and U.S. in response to ongoing Russian war crimes in Aleppo and Syria


Appeasement has many colors and takes many forms.

In the last few days, it has taken the form in Europe of shifting the focus of the push for sanctions from Russia to Syria. Just Syria.

Angela Merkel of Germany floated the idea in the press that she was going to push for further sanctions against Putin and Russia because of the ongoing Russian war crimes in Aleppo. EU foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini took sides against her, announcing such sanctions were not under consideraiton. Leaders of the German governing coaliton met, with SPD chief Sigmund Gabriel and SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, joined by Bavarian CSU leader Horst Seehofer, pulling the rug out from under Merkel’s sanctions idea –if it ever existed — and the idea was dropped. She is scheduled to meet with Putin in Berlin on Wednesday, October 19.

The unity of the Atlantic alliance was undermined days earlier. French President François Hollande took the gutsy stand of insisting that if Putin came to Paris for a planned visit on October 19, it would only be to talk about Syria, and would not include the dedication of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral on the Seine River, as originally planned. Putin canceled.

Secretary of State John Kerry promptly undercut any alliance unity on being tough with the Russians over Aleppo by traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and others, on October 15.

Then Merkel, lacking support for further sanctions against Russia within her governing coaltion, within the EU, and apparently from the U.S. as well, caved in to the appeasers who are part of her coalition. She was to meet with Putin on Wednesday in Berlin — for the first time isnce the annexation of the Crimea by Russia.

Meanwhile, the drive to take Mosul back from ISIS has begun, drawing the world’s attention away from the failure of the EU and the U.S. to take action against Russia for its war crimes in Aleppo and Syria.

Go figure. Without U.S. leadership, the world spins increasingly out of control, and away from the influence of democratic societies.

In the meantime, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is visiting China, as part of an apparent effort to realign his country’s foreign policy away from the United States and toward Beijing. If this happens, it will signal the loss of a key ally in a nation that is infinitely more important to the U.S., and to peace and security in Asia, than Vietnam ever was.

With a weak U.S. leader in Obama, the situation in the Philippines has come to this.

Lack of leadership and weakness has spread. Appeasement of Russia, or China, is the new leitmotif for the U.S., Europe, and the other civilized nations which follow their lead.

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.