Ukraine War, August 17, 2023: Le Monde editorial highlights strategic failures of the West


1) Editorial, “Face à une guerre longue en Ukraine, il faut tenir, en soutien à Kiev; Alors que la perspective d’un conflit qui s’installe dans la durée se renforce, les Occidentaux doivent intensifier leur assistance militaire aux Ukrainiens, la faire monter en gamme et lutter plus efficacement contre le contournement des sanctions contre Moscou,” Le Monde, le 17 août 2023 (11h25);

2) Editorial, “Faced with a long war in Ukraine, we must hold, in support of Kiev; As the prospect of a long-term conflict strengthens, Westerners must intensify their military assistance to Ukrainians, upgrade it and fight more effectively against the circumvention of sanctions against Moscow, Le Monde, August 17, 2023 (11:25 a.m.);


In an Editorial published on August 17, 2023, France’s leading newspaper Le Monde succinctly identified what it viewed as the principal strategic failures of the West in supporting Ukraine in its war of self-defense against Russian aggression.

These failures have been identified here in The Trenchant Observer and in our sister publication, the Trenchant Observations newsletter (on Substack) since the early days of the war.

In the analysis of Le Monde, these failures have included the following:

1) Underestimating tge likelihood that Putin would invade Ukraine;

2) Delays in deciding and failure to decide what weapons to transfer to Ukraine and delays in their delivery;

3) Failure to plan for the manufacture of munitions at the time when they should have done so, inflicting on the Ukrainian combatants cruel shortages;

4) Failure to understand the military cost of their delayed decisions and deliveries of munitions, which gave the Russians ample time to build formidable defenses, including the mining of key territories;

5) Unrealistic expectations for rapid advances in the current counter-offensive;

6) Forgetting that the price of their delays, in decisions and munitions deliveries, has been paid with Ukrainian lives.

7) Expecting Ukrainian successes in a counter-offensive which they themselves would never undertake without air superiority, all the while refusing and delaying y  delivery of aircraft that might redress that situation.

We have identified other strategic failures, but we certainly agree with Le Monde in those it has identified.

The Trenchant Observer

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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