Ukraine War, May 7, 2022 (II): Biden administration blunders on intelligence sharing leaks points to need for personnel changes on foreign policy team

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1) Warren P. Strobel, “U.S. Walks Fine Line Sharing Intelligence With Ukraine in War With Russia; Washington is seeking to help Kyiv defeat Moscow’s invasion while avoiding direct conflict with President Vladimir Putin,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2022 (Updated 2:42 pm ET).


Biden administration leaks point to need for changes in foreign policy team

Strobel reports,

The Biden administration has also tried to straddle a line in supplying weapons to Ukraine. It has sought to avoid arms that could strike deep into Russia or that Moscow might see as escalatory, such as combat jet fighters.

The fact that the Biden administration is still withholding weapons on the basis of the spurious distinction between “offensive” and “defensive” weapons demonstrates the kind of micromanagement that is responsible not only for denying Ukraine weapons they need, but also for the delay in getting heavy weapons to the front lines where they can be used.

Instead of denying weapons to Ukraine that have potential uses the U.S. wants to avoid for fear of provoking Putin, the country should trust Ukrainian leaders and rely on policy coordination to avoid use of tge weapons in ways it deems too provocative.

Under international law, Ukraine would be fully justified in striking Moscow. That would not be prudent, however, given the risks of provoking Putin and escalation to nuclear conflict.

The U.S. should trust the Ukrainian leaders and use policy coordination, not denial of multiple-use capabilities, to ensure that unduly risky mikitary actions are not taken.

CIA Director William Burns has acknowledged that the recent publication of sensitive military intelligence about intelligence dangerous.“It is irresponsible, it’s risky, it’s dangerous when people talk too much.”

The obvious question is why administration officials, presumably Biden’s “the best and the brightest”, were allowed to push these disclosures to reporters without Burns’ authorization. This fact goes to the larger phenomenon of disarray and incoherence among Biden’s foreign policy team.

Key members of the Biden’s team are former members of Barack Obama’s disastrous foreign policy team.

As the recent disclosures about U.S. intelligence sharing and related assistance make clear, there is an urgent need for personnel changes on Biden’s foreign policy team.

Given his underwhelming performance as Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken should be given a new assignment or ambassadorship and deployed to the field, so that he can begin accumulating some of the “on-the-ground” experiencev that CIA Director William Burns has in such abundance.

Burns himself might make a good secretary of state, if he can be replaced at the CIA where he has been doing an outstanding job.

Blinken’s replacement should be an outstanding leader with relevant experience who can mobilize and lead the State Department in shoring up support for allied policies in Ukraine, not only in NATO and allied countries but also in other countries which have been sitting on the sidelines, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and India.

Blinken’s failures are numerous: e.g., his antagonistic meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Anchorage in March, 2021, the Afghanistan withdrawal decision, Biden’s publicly announcing he was taking force off the table in any response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the carefully-calibrated sanctions threat that failed to deter Putin from invading Ukraine, the great fear of “provoking” Putin early in the conflict, and now a lack of concern about provoking Putin together with the reckless leaks on intelligence sharing, and his deplorable failure to develop support in the so-called developing countries for allied positions in opposing Russia.

Blinken’s diplomats appear to have done little to marshal the resources of the American government to persuade countries outside Europe, North America, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to support U.S. positions in the U.N. and to participate in the regime of sanctions against Russia.

The country needs a strong Secretary of State, not a Washington foreign policy ptotegé of Joe Biden who has never really served in a foreign country.

Blinken has good qualities, but lacks real-world experience in the field. He might best contribute and also benefit from an ambassadorship in an important country.

The foreign policy team has brought us one blunder after another. We are in a perilous moment, in which a nuclear confrontation with Russia is possible if not likely.

We need a newly reconstituted foreign policy team.  We need the best people in the country, both Democrats and Republicans.


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.