Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being written. please check back for updates and additions.
To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.
1) Bret Stephens, “Biden Is Still Right. Putin Has to Go,” New York Times,
April 5, 2022:
2) “The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #70 (July 28),” The Trenchant Observer, July 28, 2012.;
It was deeply ironic yesterday, when ex-president Barack Obama showed up at the White House to celebrate the 12th anniversary of Obamacare, and he received the celebrity treatment that marked his time in office. Memories being short, no one seemed to remark on the fact that his disastrous foreign policy and his meek responses to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014 and Russian barbarism in Syria beginning in 2015 played a major role in the course of events that led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Today the United States and NATO continue their policy of standing on the sidelines militarily, though they are supplying weapons to Ukraine, while Russian artillery, missiles, and warplanes continue to bombard civilian populations in cities they are systematically seeking to destroy.
At the same time Russian soldiers continue the massive commission of crimes against humanity not only against bombarded cities, but also in towns like Bucha, a video of which Ukrainian President showed to the U.N. Security Council in an emergency meeting yesterday, April 5, 2022.
Western leaders denounce the Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity, but are unwilling to do anything that will actually bring them to a halt.
Their military passivity recalls the moral cowardice of the U.S. and the West when Bashar al-Assad was committing similar crimes in his assault on the ancient city of Aleppo, a battle which Russia later joined in earnest committing its own crimes against humanity.
In 2012, as the battle for Aleppo was underway, we wrote the following:
It was a poignant moment, as world leaders gathered in London last night (July 27) for the opening of the XXX Olympic Games, with the performance of an extraordinary spectacle, in which at one point five Olympic rings appeared suspended in the heavens over the Olympic Stadium. Over a billion people were said to have watched the opening ceremonies on television.
Here, in the very heart of the democratic civilizations of Europe, the Olympic ideal shone brightly.
Meanwhile, in Aleppo in Syria, a country where the international community and the Security Council have been unable to reach agreement to act effectively to halt the atrocities of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the portents of death and destruction were all too palpable yesterday and today, as the regime’s troops, tanks, artillery, helicopters and war planes began a concerted assault on the lightly armed rebels of the Syrian Liberation Army, in what a pro-Assad Damascus newspaper termed “the Mother of all Battles”.
Today, on Saturday, July 28, the battle was joined in earnest.
Thus, as the world turns its attention to the joyful spectacle of athletes from countries throughout the world competing on the basis of individual merit, as humanity comes together for its quadrennial celebration of the richness and diversity of the human family, the people in Aleppo and in Syria are left to face the absolute terror and barbarism of the Bashar al-Assad regime, alone.
Russia and China, along with the Syrian regime, are clearly to blame for this state of affairs, and populations who follow international affairs throughout the world are aware of the role they have have played in thwarting effective U.N. Security Council action.
The United States and other Western countries warn of an impending massacre in Aleppo, as if anyone but they themselves could save the day.
It is a new role for Americans: Eyewitness News reporters without an inkling of any sense of moral responsibility that might lead them to act. In this role, they are following the lead of their president.
The Americans, the Europeans, top U.N. officials and others loudly deplore the lamentable state of affairs in Syria in general, and the unfolding of the “mother of all battles” in Aleppo, in particular.
Leaderless, they stand helpless and paralyzed before the terror and barbarism of al-Assad.
They provide countless declarations of moral outrage, and call for the nations of the world to increase their “pressure” on the al-Assad regime.
The “pressure” of which they speak is a “pressure” of words, of plaintive moral appeals directed to war criminals whose moral depravity is beyond dispute. Or perhaps the “pressure” may even consist of voluntary economic sanctions, imposed by different countries outside the framework of the U.N. Security Council, whose impact is uncertain and in any event will take much time.
Neither words nor economic sanctions, however, will stop al-Assad’s armies.
These leaders are at once appalled by the terror, the barbarism, the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity before their very eyes, and caught in their own moral cowardice, impotent, helpless, with verbal reproaches the only weapons they have the courage to wield. Paralyzed by their own cowardice, they will not act—not effectively, not in time to save the thousands of additional deaths that the grinding gears of war portend to claim, and of which they so earnestly warn.
Enough with Words!
These leaders can all do the world one big favor: Stop denouncing al-Assad’s atrocities, at least until they are willing to do something really effective to bring them to a halt.
With their moral energies thus freed, they can pay close attention to the facts on the ground, to what is actually happening to thousands of human beings in the maw of war, and then they can seek quiet solace in their churches, their synagogues, their mosques, and the other spiritual refuges in which they must, as individual human beings, come to terms with what they have seen, and what they have not done.
Enough with words!
Enough with the self-absolving declarations these leaders offer to the world, and to themselves, so they can sleep at night, knowing they were present at Srebrenice, present at Auschwitz, present in Rwanda, over a very long period of time, and did nothing.
As for President Obama, who reportedly likes to think of himself as emulating the great American presidents, the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, recipient of the 1907 Nobel Peace Prize, come to mind. Roosevelt declared:
We must ever bear in mind that the great end in view is righteousness, justice as between man and man, nation and nation, the chance to lead our lives on a somewhat higher level, with a broader spirit of brotherly goodwill one for another. Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.
Moreover, and above all, let us remember that words count only when they give expression to deeds, or are to be translated into them . The leaders of the Red Terror2 prattled of peace while they steeped their hands in the blood of the innocent; and many a tyrant has called it peace when he has scourged honest protest into silence. Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.
[Footnote] 2. The “Terror” is a term characterizing the conduct of power in revolutionary France by the second committee of Public Safety (September, 1793-July, 1794), sometimes identified as the “Red Terror” to distinguish it from the short-lived “White Terror”, which was an effort by the Royalists in 1795 to destroy the Revolution.
–Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, delivered May 5, 1910.
President Obama and the other leaders of the world would do well to take these words to heart, today, and every day hereafter until they find the courage to take effective action to halt the barbarism and the terror in Syria.
The Trenchant Observer