The Great Buffoon’s lack of support of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter

Updated December 28, 2019

United Nations Charter, Article 2

The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

(4) All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

The Great Buffoon’s comments on January 2, 2019 asserting that Russia was right to have invaded Afghanistan revealed the president’s utter lack of support for, or even understanding of, the most basic principle of international law, the prohibition of the use of force across international frontiers contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter.

Trump’s statement asserting it was “right” for the Soviet Union to have invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and overthrown the existing government revealed his ignorance of history, his disdain for international law, and the likelihood that he is simply passing on Vladimir Putin’s talking points. Said Trump:

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. … The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.”

–Aaron Blake, “Trump’s bizarre history lesson on the Soviet Union, Russia and Afghanistan,” The Washington Post, Jan. 2, 2019.

See also,

David Frum, “Why Is Trump Spouting Russian Propaganda? The president’s endorsement of the U.S.S.R.’s invasion of Afghanistan echoes a narrative promoted by Vladimir Putin,” The Atlantic, Jan. 3, 2019.

Frud Bezhan, “Poisonings, Assassination, And A Coup: The Secret Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan,” RFE/RL, December 27, 2019 (08:31 GMT).

The Great Buffoon has provided new evidence of his failure to grasp the import of or to support the prohibition contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter at his press conference in Biarritz, France, at the end of the G-7 summit on August 26, 2019.  The relevant parts of the transcript of the press conference follow:

Q Why do you think it’s appropriate to invite Russia to the G7, given that they’ve meddled in the 2016 election? …


My inclination is to say, “Yes, they should be in.” They were — really, it was a President Obama — I’m not blaming him, but a lot of bad things happened with President Putin and President Obama.

And the other (thing that happened) was in Ukraine having to do with a certain section of Ukraine that you know very well, where it was sort of taken away from President Obama. Not taken away from President Trump; taken away from President Obama.

President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him. Right? It was very embarrassing to him. And he wanted Russia to be out of the — what was called the “G8.” And that was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. He was outsmarted. President Putin outsmarted President Obama.

Q (Inaudible.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait a minute. And I can understand how President Obama would feel. He wasn’t happy. And they’re not in for that reason.

Q Why do you keep using the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama, when other —

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, he did.

Q — countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea? Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie? Why keep —

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, it was annexed during President — I know you like President Obama, but it was annexed during President Obama’s term. If it was annexed during my term, I’d say, “Sorry, folks, I made a mistake.” Or, “Sorry, folks.”

President Obama was helping Ukraine. Crimea was annexed during his term.

Now, it’s a very big area, a very important area. Russia has its submarine — that’s where they do their submarine work, and that’s where they dock large and powerful submarines. But not as powerful as ours and not as large as ours. But they have their submarines.

And President Obama was, pure and simply, outsmarted. They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped. It could have been stopped with the right — whatever. It could have been stopped. But President Obama was unable to stop it, and it’s too bad.

–White House Press Office, “Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France in Joint Press Conference,” Biarritz, France, August 26, 2019.

What is remarkable about this most recent press-conference exchange is that the Great Buffoon does not seem to understand that Russia was expelled from the G-8 because their invasion and “annexation”of the Crimea was in violation of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, not because Putin took the Crimea away from President Obama.  Obama, like the other G-8 leaders except Putin were reacting to Russia’s violation of the most basic norm in the U.N. Charter, not because Putin outsmarted Obama and took the Crimea away from him.

What we see in these excerpts, as in the quote about Afghanistan, is the muddled thinking of an utterly unqualified president who lacks a firm grasp of even the simplest facts.  The Great Buffoon says that the Russians took the Crimea during Obama’s term of office.  “That was not a good thing,” he states, without explaining why.  “It could have been stopped with the right — whatever,” he asserts, again without explaining why or how.

How can we expect the United States to promote and support international law when the Great Buffoon, the American president, does not even understand or support the prohibition of the use of force in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the Charter, or its underlying rationale?

If the president does not understand or support the prohibition of the use of force across international frontiers, the most basic norm of the U.N. Charter and the international peace and security system based on international law established in the U.N. Charter in 1945, what parts of international law might we reasonably expect him to understand and support?

See “Keeping Track of Trump’s Foreign Policy: From the Kerch Strait to Russian sanctions, Khashoggi, Syria, and Afghanistan< ,” The Trenchant Observer, December 26, 2018.

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.