Ukraine War, May 4, 2022 (III): New York Times drops all restraints, publishing articles likely to provoke Putin to escalate war

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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.

Dispatches

1) Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say,” New York Times, May 4, 2022, (7:40 p.m. ET);

2) “Ukraine War, May 4, 2022 (I): The urgent need for censorship of militarily sensitive information,” The Trenchant Observer, May 4, 2022.

Commentary

The New York Times must be stopped from publishing further articles revealing sensitive military information related to the role of the U.S. in assisting Ukraine in conducting military operations.

The publication of recent articles have arguably had a negative impact on Ukraine’s war effort. Shortly after the Times published an article questioning why Russia had not attacked Ukrainian rail networks and infrastructure more intensely, Russia stepped up its attacks on these infrastructure targets.

There is a suggestion in the article by Barnes, Cooper and Schmitt, above, that some geniuses in the Biden administration think such revelations will have a positive effect in deterring Putin. Such thinking just reveals how Biden’s foreign policy team is being led by inexperienced people who over-intellectualize everything, instead of by seasoned generals and diplomats.

This is the same team that gave us Austin’s unfortunate statement that the goal is to weaken Russia, and which earlier gave us the Afghanistan withdrawal decision.

Barnes, Cooper and Schmitt write,

Although the administration remains wary of inflaming Mr. Putin to the point that he further escalates his attacks — President Biden has said he will not send American troops to Ukraine or establish a “no-fly zone” there — current and former officials said the White House finds some value in warning Russia that Ukraine has the weight of the United States and NATO behind it.

Officials said Moscow has its own calculations to weigh, including whether it can handle a bigger war, particularly one that would allow NATO to invoke its mutual defense charter or enter the war more directly.

“Clearly, we want the Russians to know on some level that we are helping the Ukrainians to this extent, and we will continue to do so,” said Evelyn Farkas, the former top Defense Department official for Russia and Ukraine in the Obama administration. “We will give them everything they need to win, and we’re not afraid of Vladimir Putin’s reaction to that. We won’t be self-deterred.”

Despite these calculations by todays “the best and the brightest”–to cite David Halberstam’s term for the intellectuals who gave us the Vietnam war fiasco–the disclosure of this militarily sensitive information is pure folly.

Coincidentally, this irresponsible journalism coincides with the replacement of of Dean Baquet by Joe Kahn as Executive Editor of the New York Times, on April 19, 2022, pursuant to a decision by the publisher, A.G. Sulzberger.

Some one needs to get control of the news decisions at the New York Times before great damage is done not only to the war effort in Ukraine, but also to constitutional protections against prior restraints on publication which have existed since the 1964 Supreme Court case of New York Times v. Sullivan.

In that case, the Court held that prior restraints on publication of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsburg, were unconstitutional.

There is a clear need for some kind of prior restraint on the New York Times to prevent it from publishing sensitive military information that could affect the course of the war in the Ukraine, and perhaps beyond.

This is not the Pentagon Papers case, where what was involved were politically embarrassing revelations about how the government of Lyndon B. Johnson had lied about the course of the Vietnam war, in the past.

Here we are dealing with ongoing military operations in a war with Russia which has the immediate potential to escalate to a nuclear confrontation between Russia and the U.S.

The stakes could not be higher.

The great problem is that if the Biden administration were to impose prior restraints on what the New York Times publishes, the newspaper could appeal to the Supreme Court arguing that New York Times v. Sullivan prohibits such prior restraints.

Given the fact that we now have a rogue Supreme Court, apparently willing to overthrow Roe v. Wade and 50 years of precedent, casting aside settled principles of constitutional interpretation, including judicial restraint, an appeal by the Times to the Supreme Court could produce disastrous results.

Such an appeal, for example, could lead to an overruling of the New York Times v. Sullivan decision, opening up a Pandora’s box of possible prior restraints on publication that could greatly weaken First Amendment guarantees.

A.G. Sulzberger and the Sulzberger family and shareholders of the New York Times need to force the editors of the paper to stop publishing such sensitive military information, or be replaced.

This action is urgent, and should be taken immediately.

The Trenchant Observer

***

See also,

Only force can stop Putin

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

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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