Ukraine War, May 10, 2022 (I): Reflections on the Biden Paradox–Fighting Russian fascism in Ukraine, but not fighting American fascism in the United States

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The Biden Paradox: Fighting Russian fascism in Ukraine but not fighting American fascism in the United States

The paradox could not be greater: The U.S. and allied countries are engaged in a massive effort to defeat Russian fascism in Ukraine, to defend freedom and democracy and international law.

But President Joe Biden, who is leading the effort in Ukraine, has not even begun the massive effort that may be required to defeat Donald Trump and fascism in America.

Biden was slow in coming to a strong policy of opposing Vladimir Putin and Russian fascism in Ukraine. He made huge mistakes which may have contributed to Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

First, in April, 2022 he made the catastrophic decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan.

Second, as early as November, 2021, he announced publicly that he was taking force off the table in considering possible responses to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. He repeated this policy up through the invasion, and has stuck to it adamantly since then.

Third, Biden failed to impose any sanctions on Russia for threatening the illegal use of force against Ukraine, in flagrant violation of Artice 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits not only the illegal use of force, but also the threat of such use of force. This was an early sign of American weakness.

Fourth, he failed to object to Russia’s military intervention in Kazakstan in January, 2022. There are strong legal arguments to the effect this intervention violated the prohibition of the use of force in the U.N. Charter.  The fact that the U.S. didn’t even try to make the case was another sign of weakness.

Fifth, he insisted on using highly-calibrated threats of economic sanctions to try to deter Putin, withholding the most serious of these until well after the invasion. The threatened sanctions, based on the well-known and flawed assumptions of  “The Rational Actor Paradigm”, did not deter Putin.

Finally, in the first months of the war he was extremely timid in doing anything he thought might provoke Putin.

But slowly, as the evidence of Russian war crimes and atrocities became overwhelming, and the Ukrainians demonstrated enormous prowess and courage on the battlefield, Biden came around to a position of increasing determination in opposing Russia and supporting Ukraine with weapons and other assistance.

Biden’s failure to take on Trump and American fascism

Paradoxically, however, Biden showed the same reluctance to oppose Trump and fascism in America that he demonstrated in the early days of the Ukraine crisis and then the Ukraine war.

Just as he was afraid of provoking Vladimir Putin and the Russians, Biden has been afraid of provoking Donald Trump and his supporters. He has been extremely slow and indeed has failed to defend American freedom and democracy from the fascist threat.

First, the Biden administration has failed to indict and prosecute Donald Trump and his supporters for any of the innumerable crimes they apparently committed, often in public view. All available indications suggest that Attorney General Merrick Garland has not even initiated the major investigations that would be necessary to secure convictions for these apparent crimes.

The Rule of Law has been broken in the United States, and not only by Donald Trump and his supporters.

It has also been broken by the Biden administration, which has in effect granted impunity to Donald Trump and his supporters–who clearly appear to have committed grave electoral and other crimes.

Garland has allowed the five-year statute of limitations to run out on many of these crimes, without comment.

We are currently witnessing a kind of rolling grant of impunity, as the statutes of limitations expire each week on extremely serious crimes.

Second, with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, Biden and the Democrats have failed to pass any voting rights legislation that might halt the blatant efforts by Republicans in a number of states to suppress voting in certain communities, and to politicize the selection of state election officials, providing Republicans with the tools they lacked in 2020 but will now have available to rig elections in 2024, if not sooner.

Biden and Garland appear to be afraid of Donald Trump and his supporters.

Indeed, their timorousness is eerily reminiscent of the Biden administration’s extreme caution in the early weeks of the Ukraine war in not taking any actions they feared might provoke Vladimir Putin.

Biden seems to be overcoming his fear of provoking Putin.

But he has yet to begin overcoming his fear of Trump and his American fascist supporters.

One final observation:

Even if we succeed in stopping Putin and Russian fascism in Ukraine, that victory will be lost if we fail to defend freedom and democracy against American fascism in the United States.

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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