Ukraine War, March 1, 2022 (I): Grozny, Aleppo, Kharkiv, and Kviv: NATO, civilization, and barbarism


1) Karoun Demirjian, “Rapid escalation of Ukraine crisis fuels fear of confrontation between Russia and the West,” Washington Post, March 1, 2022 (6:00 a.m. EST);

2) “Personal Takes: Russian war crimes in Syria, appeasement, and disgust,” The Trenchant Observer, October 12, 2016;

3) “Syria: Russia’s military assault on Western civilization,” The Trenchant Observer, September 26, 2022;

4) “Aleppo — a wrenching epitaph for the failed foreign policy of Barack Obama,” The Trenchant Observer, November 21, 2016;

5) “Bring on the Clowns! Aleppo and the ashes of Obama’s foreign policy,” The Trenchant Observer, August 3, 2016;

6) “The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #70 (July 28),” July 28, 2012;

How many tens of thousands of Ukrainians must die, as NATO and other countries stand on the sidelines in a battle to save civilization from the barbarism of Vladimir Putin and Russia?

Can a pacifist President Biden become a wartime leader in a war to save civilization?

If he can’t, can other leaders such as Olaf Scholz step up to the plate?i


Use of force to protect NATO countries’ deliveries of military weapons, equipment, and supplies within Ukraine

The United States and other NATO countries do not nesessarily have to establish a no-fly zone for Russian aircraft over Ukraine, at least not at this moment.

What they should do, however, is deliver arms and other military supplies to Ukrainian forces, within Ukraine, and use force to defend their operations against any Russian military actions to interfere with them. This could include fighter and missile defense of cargo planes that come under attack, and taking out Russian missile-launching facilities responsible for any missile attacks.

The U.S. would not be engaging Russia directly in combat, but rather making Russia responsible for the initiation of any direct military confrontation.

Biden needs to form A senior bi-partisan nuclear decisions Executive Committee to assist him in making nuclear decisions or decisions with nuclear weapons implications.

Putin’s entire strategy appears to be based on his assessment of Biden as a weak foreign policy leader who he could “take” in a nuclear showdown.

Given Putin’s knowledge of and experience with Biden (and Obama) over the years, from the Obama “reset” with Russia in 2009, with Russian troops still occupying parts of Georgia which they invaded in 2008, to Ukraine in 2014 and Syria in 2016, Putin has seen a steady policy of non-opposition and pacifism. In the president’s slow, timid, and weak responses to the Russian build-up around Ukraine, beginning in the Spring, he has experienced Biden as a weak and indecisive leader. Biden’s caution in threatening and imposing heavy sanctions probably did little to change his view.

Putin’s view of Biden, and his assumption he can “take” him in a nuclear showdown, is not going to change.

So, what can be done?

What can be done is for Biden to form a senior, high-level, and bipartisan group of advisers, gathered together in a Nuclear Decisions Executive Committee to assist him in making nuclear decisions or decisions with nuclear weapons implications.

This group should be small, with 8-12 former and current Secretaries of Defense, intelligence agency directors, and Secretaries of State, who will meet in continuous session until the war has come to an end or a cease-fire has been established.

As a result, Putin and Russian officials will have to modify the assumptions which go into their calculations.

The constitution of such a group would not guarantee a change in Putin’s own assumptions, since Biden will still make the ultimate decisions, but it would help ensure Biden is getting the best foreign and defense policy advice possible, and not merely that of the incompetent foreign policy team that gave us the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal decision, or the carefully calibrated and graduated sanctions scheme and threats that failed to deter Putin.

With the president we have, this may be the best the U.S. can do.

Previous recommendations

1) Play the China card–immediately; and

2) Resume Russian-language short-wave transmissions to Russia–immediately.

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.