Ukraine War, July 10, 2022: Impact of economic sanctions on Russia; Unprincipled Biden, all prose and no music, will travel to Saudi Arabia (Updated July 12, 2022)

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UKRAINE: THE WAR TO SAVE THE U.N. CHARTER AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

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) Andrea Rizzi, “¿Están fracasando las sanciones occidentales a Rusia?; Las medidas de represalia por la invasión de Ucrania provocan serios daños a la economía de Rusia, pero esta se mantiene de pie mientras sus fuerzas avanzan en Donbás y las repercusiones del conflicto sacuden a los sancionadores,” El País, el 9 de julio 2022 (23:40 EDT);

2) Andrea Rizzi, “Are Western sanctions on Russia failing?; Retaliatory measures for the invasion of Ukraine cause serious damage to Russia’s economy, but it stands as its forces advance in Donbass and the repercussions of the conflict shake the sanctions (Google translation), El País, July 9, 2022 (23:40 EDT).

Andrea Rizzi is Global Affairs Columnist and former head of the International department of El País, Spain’s leading newspaper.

3) Joe Biden, “Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia,” Washington Post, July 9, 2022 (6:35 p.m. EDT;

4) “US officials confirm Biden to visit Saudi Arabia, meet MBS
US president will make first Middle East visit next month, with stops in Israel, occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2022;

UPDATE–NEW ARTTICLES

5) Fred Ryan, “Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia erodes our moral authority,” Washington Post, July 11, 2022 (6:52 p.m. EDT).

Fred Ryan is publisher of The Post

6) Ben Rhodes, “Why No One Believes American Rhetoric About Democracy; A presidential visit to Saudi Arabia feels sadly inevitable, The Atlantic, July 12, 2022 (6:00 a.m.);

7) Jean Mikhail, “Saudi-Arabiens Kronprinz verkörpert das aktuelle politische Dilemma des Westens,” Die Welt, den 13. Juli 2022 (04:48 Uhr).

Analysis

Andrea Rizzi provides a magisterial overview of tbe impact of economic sanctions on Russia. His account is balanced and replete with statistics and hard numbers.

Meanwhile Joe Biden, who in his byline reminds us he is president of the United States, published an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post which is a pathetic apology for the 180 degree reversal in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia since Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) reportedly ordered the assassination  of leading Middle East journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 2, 2018.

Biden’s decision to personally travel to Saudi Arabia demonstrates his extraordinarily poor judgment, once again. His apologia for the trip is all prose and no music.

Biden and his advisers don’t connect the dots. They can’t distinguish between the transcendent and the merely important.

At a moment when Ukraine and its Western backers are engaged in an existential struggle to defend Ukraine, the U.N. Charter, and human rights against the Russian invasion and barbaric war crimes, Biden decides to grovel before MBS because the U.S. wants him to increase oil production and ease pressure on gas prices in the U.S. before the November elections.

Saudi Arabia is one of the fence-sitters in the “South” which refuses to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine and to participate in the sanctions regime.

Instead of pushing MBS and Saudi Arabia to get off the fence, Biden is going to Riyad to beg the Saudis for help with oil production and gas prices.

What kind of example is Biden giving to fence-sitters who, like him, choose to ignore abhorrent crimes in pursuit of their immediate parochial interests?

Biden simply doesn’t understand the music, and has a blind and mistaken belief that his prose arguments will carry the day.

These shortcomings undercut his attempts at international leadership, and also help to explain why he is failing so badly in the domestic political arena, with his percentage approval ratings in the upper 30’s.

The voters want to hear music and not merely prose.

UPDATE–FURTHER ANALYSIS

July 12, 2022

When it comes to Joe Biden’s bad judgment, one is reminded of Yogi Bera’s famous  quip: “It’s deja vu all over again.” And again, and again.

Biden’s bad judgment is a fount which spews forth endless errors. It is truly a “gift” that keeps on giving.

Former defense secretary Robert Gates in his memoir wrote of Biden: “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

To be sure, there are serious reasons the U.S. should meintain good relations with Saudi Arabia. Jean Mikhail in Die Welt does a good job of laying them out. These reasons don’t require Biden to travel to Saudi Arabia and meet with MBS, however.

On the contrary, Biden’s decision to travel to Saudi Arabia and to meet with MBS, with hat in hand, reveals such colossally bad judgment that it evokes memories of his April 2021 decision to withdraw all American forces and contractors from Afghanistan.

Just as then, you want to scream, “Can’t anyone stop this folly?”

And just as then, no one can.

The decision to go to Riyadh and meet with MBS is itself the product of extraordinarily poor judgment by Biden and also by his largely incompetent foreign policy team led by Biden protegé Antony Blinken.

Putin must be laughing hard as he looks on. The man who ideally would have nerves of steel in any nuclear showdown with the Russian leader is demonstrating that he can’t even stand up to the Saudi Crown Prince when he feels the need to seek an advantage in domestic politics.

Is there nothing the Congressional Democrats can do to make Biden strengthen his foreign policy team, bringing in senior and independent people who can guide him in a manner that corrects for his bad judgment?

The Trenchant Observer

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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 .

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