Ukraine War, March 6, 2022 (III) : America, now a country of cowardly voyeurs, led by defeatists and pacifists, stands by and refuses to use force to halt Russian war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Ukrainian people

It is now time for our moral outrage to be redirected from Vladimir Putin to Joe Biden and the feckless leaders of the West who refuse to use force to stop Putin’s commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Ukrainian people.

Biden is a coward, a defeatist, and a pacifist, as his actions in withdrawing from Afghanistan and in seeking to deter Putin from invading Ukraine amply demonstrate.

If we look at Biden’s history, we can see that he and Obama imposed only “slap on the wrist” sanctions on Putin and Russia after the invasion and “annexation” of the Crimea in February and March 2014.

Though the European Union did finally impose serious sectorial sanctions on Russia on September 5, 2014, after Russia had invaded the Eastern Ukraine beginning with irregulars in April and with regular troops in August 2014, Obama and Biden did not seem to have led the effort. Obama refused to send weapons or so-called “lethal aid” to Ukraine, and Biden was part of that decision.

After Putin’s nuclear threats, Obama blinked, and even decided to address the question of efforts to bring peace to Syria by “working through the Russians”.

In Syria, where Russia was supporting Bashar al-Assad in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale, and committing those crimes on its own, Obama decided to look the other way and to enter into a cooperative military relationship with Putin in prosecuting the war against ISIS.

Biden was a participant in all of these decisions.

Moral outrage directed at Putin is wasted effort. He is simply evil, on the same level as Hitler and Stalin.  Instead, we should direct our moral outrage at Biden and his incompetent foreign policy team, who have been responsible for America’s defeatist and pacifist approach, first, to deter Putin from invading Ukraine and, now, to halt his barbarous attack on Ukraine and its people.

When we watch scenes on TV of thousands of Ukrainian citizens being bombed in their homes and being killed, following the Russian pattern in Grozny and Aleppo, we should feel moral outrage–and disgust at the cowardice of our current leaders.

Biden can’t even decide to establish an oil embargo, as he is concerned about the political impact of higher prices at the gas pump. His rhetoric is soaring. However, like Obama’s, it must be measured against his actions.

What is to be done?

In the U.S. leaders from both parties and concerned citizens should now rise up to demand that Biden bring in a bipartisan group of senior national security officials to expand his current foreign policy team, in order to set up the policies and procedures that are necessary to effectively prosecute and win the current war.

Above all, they need to be clear-eyed about the potential need to use force in defending Ukraine, Europe, and the West.

While he is at it, he might bring Susan Rice back from her domestic policy assignment to his new reformulated foreign policy team.

Finally, a few clarifying words about the use of force against Russia in Ukraine and the risk of “World War III” are in order.

The risk of escalation to nuclear war is no greater in the case of opposing Russia in Ukraine than it would be in opposing Russian aggression against NATO countries such as Lithuania and Latvia, which stand in the way of joining the exclave of Kaliningrad to Russia proper.

In short, Article 5 of the NATO treaty is largely irrelevant in assessing the risks of using force to oppose Russian aggression and the risks of nuclear escalation.

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.