Ukraine War, April 21, 2022 (II) Biden’s new “incursion”-style blunder–Putin: “will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine.”

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.

Only force can stop Putin

See “Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022.

Dispatches

1) David Ignatius, “Are Biden and Putin agreeing on limits to the war? Just read their statements,” Washington Post, April 21, 2022 6:41 pm EDT).

Commentary

Ignatius quotes Biden as follows:

Biden underlined NATO unity against Russia, another bedrock theme of U.S. policy. The alliance, he said, was “sending an unmistakable message to Putin: He will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine. He will not — that will not happen.” Biden’s statement, though resolute in tone, left open the possibility that Putin might occupy some of Ukraine, in the southeastern region where Russian attacks are now concentrated.

This comment is as unfortunate as Biden’s earlier comment about responding to a Russian “incursion” into Ukraine.

As The Telegraph has pointed out, Biden is “the president we have.”

Pretty incompetent, heading a pretty incompetent foreign policy team. Actually, they are good at some things, just not very competent when it comes to policy or big decisions.

Like the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Like the decision to take force off the table.

Like the distinction between “offensive” and “defensive” weapons we might send to Ukraine.

Like the distinction between transferring aircraft parts and “whole” aircraft to Ukraine. And clarifying the distinction and earlier statements, to make sure the U.S. doesn’t “provoke” Putin.

Like Biden’s benighted policy proposal to modify nuclear doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons to be a “sole-purpose” doctrine.

Like explaining, publicly and over and over again, how careful the U.S. is being not to provoke Putin.

The foreign policy team must be changed. This dog can’t hunt.

Only Congressional Democrats can force Biden to reconstitute and bolster his foreign policy team, by bringing in the most qualified and experienced, and independent, former military and foreign policy officials. These should include former officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Democratic Senators and Congressmen should be motivated. If they don’t take such action, now, they are likely to be blown out of the water by the Republicans in November.

So, Biden is telegraphing to Putin that he might accept a “frozen conflict” in Ukraine as a condition for easing military aid to Ukraine and relaxing the sanctions against Russia.

I am sure Putin is happy to have this information about Biden’s current thinking, and his current bottom line.

Fortunately, other NATO members may not go along with this kind of appeasement. Zelensky and the Ukrainians would appear unlikely to accept such terms.

Someone, at some point, is likely to remind Biden that the U.N. Charter, international law, and the international legal order are at stake here, and that they must be vindicated before there can be any real negotiations or settlement or any possibility of a stable peace.

Still, the sad fact is that through this enormous blunder Biden, in his careless incompetence, has given Putin one more reason to believe that his territorial goals in Ukraine might be achieved, and one more reason to continue fighting to achieve them.

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.

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