Ukraine War, March 10, 2022 (I): The darkest hour of the American soul; Mariupol and appeasement; U.S. is stuck with a timorous, defeatist Commander-in-Chief; Congress must secure new foreign policy team, insist on bipartisan war cabinet; NATO countries must insist on active role in war-related decision making, send war council to Washington



1) Faustine Vincent, “Guerre en Ukraine : pour les habitants de Kherson, « les Russes sont des occupants et Poutine est un tueur »; Depuis samedi, les manifestations se multiplient dans cette grande ville du sud, prise par Moscou le 2 mars. Les prorusses locaux commencent eux aussi à vaciller,” Le Monde, le 9 mars 2022 (à 03h56, mis à jour à 10h12).

2) David Adler, “The west v Russia: why the global south isn’t taking sides; The map of global participation in the sanctions against Russia,” The Guardian, March 10, 2022 (11.15 GMT);

3) Luke Harding, “‘Pure genocide’: civilian targets in Mariupol ‘annihilated’ by Russian attacks; Deputy mayor of southern Ukrainian city says people living in ‘medieval conditions’ after week of continuous shelling,” The Guardian, March 9, 2022 (19.06 GM);

4) María R. Sahuquillo y Andrés Mourenza, “Fracasa la ofensiva diplomática para lograr un alto el fuego en Ucrania; El ministro de Exteriores ucranio acusa a Moscú de no comprometerse a crear un pasillo humanitario en Mariupol, la ciudad más asediada. Al menos tres personas murieron el miércoles por el bombardeo contra un hospital materno-infantil,” El País, el 10 de maezo 2022 (04:10 est, Actualizado a las 13:03 EST)

The article contains maps and details of the latest Russian military advances, and of Russian attacks on civilian populations in besieged cities and elsewhere.

5) “Kämpfe um Nahrungsmittel, Kälte, Verzweiflung – Das Grauen von Mariupol,” Die Welt, den 11. März 2022 (05:52);

6) Dorota Wysocka-Schnepf, “Was ich ganz sicher nicht sehen kann, ist ein Sieg“ (Die Welt Interview mit Timothy Snyder), Die Welt, den 11. März 2022 (05:36 Uhr).

Timothy Snyder ist amerikanischer Historiker, Professor an der Universität Yale. Dieses Interview erschien zuerst bei der „Gazeta Wyborcza“. Übersetzt aus dem Polnischen von Arkadius Jurewicz.


To be revised and expanded

The darkest hour of the American soul

One searches for words that could express the shame and the horror felt not only about what the Russians are doing in Ukraine, but also about what Americans and the populations in countries that follow their lead, in NATO and Europe in particular, are not doing.

History and moral decency demand that the full truth be told about what is going on in Ukraine, and that Americans not look away from that truth this time, as they did in Aleppo beginning in 2012.


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

Putin and Russia are destroying Ukrainian cities just as they destroyed Grozny in the Chechen civil war, and Aleppo in the Syrian civil war.

They are using brutal, medieval battle tactics, similar to those they used against the Nazi army of Hitler, in the battle to defeat German fascism.

The only difference is that they have become the fascists. They have become the German Nazis of 2022.

And they pose no less of a threat to the civilized world, and to civilization itself, than did Hitler in 1939, or 1941 and 1942.

The critical difference is that Adolf Hitler did not have nuclear weapons. He was working on them, but we got them first.

Watching on television the siege and destruction of the port city of Mariupol, and the commission of crimes against humanity on a massive scale in many cities, Americans have become armchair warriors, almost obscene voyeurs of the horrors of war.

What is obscene is that they don’t want to get out of their easy-chairs and do something effective to stop the horrors.

Their voyeurism and passivity, perfectly reflected in the passivity and defeatism of their president and his inept foreign policy team, but above all their passivity, signals the fact that we have entered into one of the darkest hours of the American soul.

It is not the first time. Americans stood on the sidelines and watched Adolf Hitler conquer all of Europe without doing anything, for over two years (1939-1941), until Germany’s ally Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and forced U.S. entry into the war.

Mariupol and appeasement

Our predicament:  The U.S. is stuck with a timotous, defeatist Commander-in-Chief

What Congress must do: Congress should force the selection of a new, reformulated foreign policy team, and insist on a bipartisan war cabinet

NATO countries should insist on an active role in war-related decision making, and send a high-level war council to Washington, to meet in continuous session

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.