Ukraine War, June 17, 2022: Who should call the signals on the NATO/EU team in the battle with Russia?

Who should call the signals on the NATO/EU team in the battle with Russia?


1) Kacper Pempel, “Polish president says calls with Putin like speaking to Hitler -Bild,” REUTERS, June 9, 2022 (3:40 AM EDT);

2) Paul Ronsheimer and Giorgos Moutafis (Fotos): “INTERVIEW: Angst vor Putins Atomwaffen? ‘Dann sollten wir uns alle gleich ergeben,'” Bild, den 9. Juni 2022 (15:42 Uhr);


The West is like a football team without a quarterback, 11 players calling the signals. Or maybe like a football team with 11 players who think they are all quarterbacks.

Is it any wonder that Russia, the opposing team, knows where the blocks are going to be made and where the holes will open up so you can red-dog (rush and tackle) the quarterback?

It’s an easy game for Vladimir Putin, who alone is calling the plays for the Russian team.

Is this any way to conduct a war?

Some of the quarterbacks don’t really grasp that they are players in a real war, and just want things to get back to normal. They will be happy with a tie ball game.

Others want to win.

Some don’t care, as long as the game ends soon and they can go to the after-game parties.

When there is a timeout during the game, one or another of the players on the NATO/EU team walks across the line of scrimmage and goes and talks with the quarterback of the Russian team out of everyone’s earshot.

After a huddle of the players on the NATO/EU team, an end sends hand signals to the quarterback of the Russian team and points to where he is going to run. During an official time out, he has a short conversation out of earshot with the quarterback of the Russian team.

Is this any way to run a football team?

Or the NATO/EU team as it tries to mount effective opposition to the Russian forces which at Quarterback Putin’s command have invaded Ukraine?

President Andrzej Ruda of Poland doesn’t think so, and has called out French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for their frequent telephone calls to Putin. In his interview in the German Bild newspaper, Duda said:

Bild: Glauben Sie, dass Olaf Scholz zu viel Angst vor Putin hat? Scholz‘ und Macrons Argument ist, dass es nur durch Verhandlung eine Lösung geben kann.

Duda: „Ich bin erstaunt über die ganzen Gespräche, die geführt werden mit Putin im Moment. Von Kanzler Scholz, von Präsident Emmanuel Macron. Diese Gespräche bringen nichts. Was bewirken sie? Sie bewirken nur eine Legitimierung eines Menschen, der verantwortlich ist für die Verbrechen, die die russische Armee in der Ukraine begeht. Er ist verantwortlich dafür. Er hat die Entscheidung getroffen, die Truppen dorthin zu schicken. Ihm unterstehen die Befehlshaber. Wladimir Putin. Hat jemand so mit Adolf Hitler während des 2. Weltkriegs gesprochen? Hat jemand gesagt, dass Adolf Hitler sein Gesicht wahren muss? Dass wir so vorgehen sollen, dass es nicht erniedrigend ist für Adolf Hitler? Ich habe solche Stimmen nicht gehört.“


Revised Google translation

Bild: Do you think Olaf Scholz is too afraid of Putin? Scholz’ and Macron’s argument is that there can only be a solution through negotiation.

Duda: “I’m amazed at all the talks that are being held with Putin at the moment. By Chancellor Scholz, by President Emmanuel Macron. These talks are useless. What do they do? They only legitimize a person responsible for the crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine. He is responsible for it. He made the decision to send the troops there. The commanders are subordinate to him. Vladimir Putin. Did anyone talk to Adolf Hitler like that during WWII? Did someone say Adolf Hitler had to save face? That we should proceed in such a way that it is not humiliating for Adolf Hitler? I have not heard such voices.”

After the great show of European solidarity by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania traveling to Kyiv and meeting there with Volodymyr Zelensky, Olaf Scholz called Putin unapologetically, and vowed he would continue to do so in the future.

Who could trust any of these leaders to keep conversations among themselves confidential when they turn right around and go and call Putin on the phone?

Does Putin need any information on the thinking of NATO and EU leaders other than what they in their individual and sometimes joint telephone calls provide?

Given this reality, of 11 quarterbacks unapologetically talking on the side to the quarterback of the Russian team, is there any reason for Putin to think he cannot stoke divisions among the NATO/EU team’s members, and even play a successful hand in the selection of that team’s new quarterback in 2024?

If this scenaio is allowed to continue, where would you place your bets on which team is going to prevail in the present game of war?


Key events of the week

The big events of the week were the travel to Kiev by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania, their meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky and his team, Scholz’s call to Putin after the visit, and on Friday, June 17, 2022 the recommendation of the EU Council that Ukraine be designated as a candidate for membership in the EU. All 27 members must agree for this recommendation to become a formal decision.

In the United States, the hearings of the January 6 Committee dominated the news, with many striking revelations.

Meanwhile, the Russians continued to advance in the battle for the Donbas, as Ukraine called for the faster delivery of more heavy weapons, particularly long-range artillery.

What the Ukrainians need much more than promises of future weapons deliveries is long-range artillery deployed on the front lines in the Donbas, now.

The earlier dithering in Washington and in Western capitals is now taking a heavy toll.

In the background, despite avowals of unconditional solidarity with Ukraine, attention increasingly focused on the issue of what kind of concessions Ukraine might have to make to secure a ceasefire and an end of hostilities.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia, resisting calls for a ceasefire now, put it best when she asked those pushing for territorial concessions to consider which of their own territories they might want to cede to Russia to secure peace.

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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