war crimes

Ukraine War, April 7, 2022 (II): Ridiculous distinctions in types of armaments to be sent to Ukraine

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (I): After Bucha, Zelensky expresses the outrage of the world over Russian crimes against humanity; clarifications regarding Russia’s seat on Security Council, and “crimes against humanity” v. “genocide”

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, April 1, 2022 (I): Donald Trump launches sharp attack against Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine; Ex-president calls for “harshest possible” economic sanctions, possible use of force ; Trump launches impassioned plea for international community to take decisive action to uphold U.N. Charter and international law

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, March 29, 2022 (I): New Ukrainian position in Istanbul negotiations; Reparations–Russia must pay for this war for generations

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, March 26, 2022 (I): Biden’s speech in Poland–Every time he speaks off-script, the president commits huge mistakes; Theodore Roosevelt on “Words and Deeds”; Goals and Strategy

Developing Dispatches 1) Clemens Wergin, “Mit „Phase 2“ versucht Moskau, sein Scheitern zu kaschieren,” Die Welt, den 26. März 2022; 2) TOI STAFF. “Full text:…


Ukraine War, March 25, 2022 (II): Ceasefire and withdrawal terms

Developing See, “Ukraine: Putin’s “red lines” and the “red lines” of the U.N. Charter and international law,” The Trenchant Observer, December 3, 2021. Dispatches 1)…



Ukraine War, March 12, 2022: Zelensky and Ukraine have a clear goal–Victory! And the U.S.? The West? Do they even understand the situation, or have a strategy? Correcting faulty thinking: Contemporary international law and the use of force

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, February 25, 2022: “We are all Ukrainians now”; U.N. Security Council resolution and vote (with links to video and text of resolution)

Draft – Developing This is a draft of an article on fast-breaking events related to Ukraine. Please check back for updates and additions, “We are…


Ukraine War, February 23, 2022: History–It all matters; blame enough to go around; cyber and collective self-defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression; conditions for a cease-fire; the long war with Russia (cold and maybe hot) that lies ahead: the failure of U.S. and NATO strategy; avoiding Armageddon

Avoiding Armageddon

Roger Cohen, a longtime and distinguished columnist of the New York Times and currently the paper’s Paris Bureau Chief, wrote in an interesting column today, “Nuclear Armageddon is not on the table.”

See,

Roger Cohen, “The Limits of a Europe Whole and Free; Vladimir Putin sets down a marker in Ukraine. Does the West have the means to stop him?” New York Times, February 22, 2022.

However, this is far from clear. Looking at Putin’s nuclear threats and both Obama’s and Biden’s responses to them, it would appear that Armageddon is still very much on the table.

If there were any doubt, Putin erased it in a speech today in which set out his justification for the war with Ukraine, and made a hardly-veiled nuclear threat.

See,

Al Jazeera Staff, “‘No other option’: Excerpts of Putin’s speech declaring war
Before launching the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II, Putin addressed his nation,” Al Jazeera, February 24, 2022.

Excerpts from speech:

“As for the military sphere, today, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its capacity, is one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world and possesses certain advantages in some of the newest types of weaponry. In this regard, no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to defeat and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.”

“Now a few important, very important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in the ongoing events. Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country or our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any turn of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard.”

In this speech, Putin sets out his justification for launching a war against Ukraine. In a sense, this is the short version of his speech the previous evening. It provides interesting insights into his warped thinking.

What is our current nuclear deterrence doctrine, and how does it apply to a major ground war in Europe started by Russian aggression?  Is our doctrine up-to-date, taking the conditions of modern military and cyber warfare into account, or does it need to be reexamined and updated? We should discuss this publicly.


Ukraine Crisis, February 21, 2022 (Part II): Weighing options–Biden’s Munich moment

Joe Biden is facing “a Munich moment”. Will he impose tough sanctions on Putin for crowning his ongoing invasion of the Eastern Ukraine with the recognition of the puppet regimes he installed in 2014 and has maintained in power since, as independent countries, who will now invite Russian troops in to “protect” the population?
It is clear from the reports above that Biden is temporizing, drawing fine intellectual distinctions just like his mentor, Barack Obama, who helped create the present Ukraine crisis by not reacting strongly to Putin’s invasions of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine in 2014.
In 2014 Obama objected to the characterization of the Russian invasion of the Donbas as an “invasion”, preferring to term it an “incursion”. An “incursion did not require as strong a response with sanctions as an “invasion”, as Biden eerily communicated to Putin in a press conference some weeks ago.
Biden has made two colossal strategic misjudgments, and appears to be making a third at this very minute.
The first was the irrevocable decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. Once that decision was made, all that followed was a future foretold.
The second strategic blunder was to tell the world publicly, including Putin, that he was taking force off the table as a possible response to potential Russian aggression against Ukraine.
By that decision, Biden shaped the battlefield in ways which were sharply detrimental to Ukraine, and to the U.S. and its allies.
Now, having set the stage with the first two colossal blunders, Biden is making his third, by not applying the threatened severe sanctions against Putin for merely having engaged in an “incursion” in the Donbas.
The initial sanctions announced today, to ban business with entities in the “separatist” republics and to sanction personally individuals involved in the decision is a bad joke, and repeats–almost in cut and paste fashion–the bad joke of Obama’s sanctions against Russia for invading the Crimea in 2014.
In 2014, it was a bad joke which emboldened Putin. In 2022, it is a bad joke which will not deter Putin from a larger war, and which very likely will increase his contempt for Biden–unless it is followed within a day or two by the heaviest of sanctions.
Biden’s third strategic blunder is underway, but it’s not too late for him to do some fresh thinking and adopt the heaviest possible sanctions.
Biden needs to lead the anti-Russian coalition, not merely sink to its lowest common denominator.

Putin will not stop until he hits a brick wall. Biden must either bring that brick wall into play, or choose the path of appeasement, as Western leaders did at Munich.
He faces what is likely to be greatest Munich moment in his presidency.


WARNING TO RUSSIAN SOLDIERS ENTERING UKRAINE: Russian soldiers who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine may be subject to trial before the International Criminal Court, and in countries exercising universal jurisdiction; they may never in their lifetimes be able to travel to European and other countries that have ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC, or which exercise universal jurisdiction over such crimes

Russian soldiers who take part in an invasion and commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, or other crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction, within Ukraine, could be subject to trial before the ICC, and in any event before the courts of any countries which prosecute such crimes on the basis of universal jurisdiction.

As a result, Russian soldiers who commit such crimes in Ukraine may never be able to travel to European or other countries which have ratified the Rome Statute, or which exercise universal jurisdiction, without running the risk of being arrested and tried for such enumerated crimes as they may have committed in Ukraine.

This would be be true for the rest of their lives.


Use international law: Take Putin’s threatened invasion of Ukraine to the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly; use SWIFT and Nordstream II to move beyond an illusory deterrent and really deter Putin; sanction Belarus for complicity in any invasion

U.S.,NATO, and EU heavy “costs” that will be imposed on Russia if it invades Ukraine are a deterrent, built on illusions, which will not deter Putin.

The West needs to strengthen its deterrent threats and to start imposing sanctions now.

Russia should be sanctioned for threatening the use of force in violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, and bringing the world dangerously close to a major war in Europe which has the potential of escalating to a nuclear conflict.

The West has been playing defense, reacting slowly to Russia’s threat of a war of aggression against Ukraine.

German war criminals were tried at Nuremberg for committing “crimes against peace”. Putin is committing crimes against peace as we speak.

NATO and the West need to stop responding to Putin’s unlawful demands and to start making their own demands on Putin and Russia.

The best defense is a good offense, it is often said.

It is now time for the civilized nations if the world to move from defensive maneuvering to going on the offense against Putin and Russia.

They should demand the following steps from Putin, and impose escalating sanctions on Russia if he does not comply, and until he does.
These demands include the following:

The U.S., the EU, and NATO member countries should begin imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia for its ongoing threat to further invade Ukraine, for its continuing occupation of the Crimea, and for its continuing occupation, both directly and through agents under its control, of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces (together “the Donbas’j in the Eastern Ukraine.

The goal should be to really deter Putin from invading Ukraine, not just putting on a good show that NATO, the U.S. and the EU tried. A secondary goal should be to deter Belarus from allowing Russian troops to launch an invasion from its territory.

To really deter Putin, all countries should pressure Germany to go along with the expulsion of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, if it invades Ukraine, and to commit now to cancellation of the Nordstream II pipeline project if that occurs.

As the civilized nations of the world move to offensive operations in defense of Ukraine, the imposition of heavy economic and other sanctions, perhaps on a partial and escalating basis, should begin at once.

Both Fiona Hill, above, and former Defense Secretary William Cohen, have called for the question of the threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine to be taken to the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly.

These steps should be undertaken at once.


The dead end of “white guilt”

Those who seek to make whites in America feel guilty for the actions of their forebears, in which they themselves took no part, are prophets of a false path. Following that path, while it may benefit some in the short run (e.g., academic proponents of such theories), will in the end only foster ethnic conflict, and persuade individuals they are victims, instead of focusing on their enormous potential for self-achievement.

Institutions and practices that express current racism should be opposed, and reformed. Programs aimed at helping those particularly disadvantaged by past racism, including racism against Native Americans, should be supported.

But this should be done within a broader framework which does not rely on white guilt for its motivational force.

Social programs to help disadvantaged members of society, including white individuals, should be based on empathy and our shared sense of humanity. In a democracy, they should also be based on the ultimate power of individuals to vote.


Abandoning Afghanistan: The moral costs

President Joe Biden ridiculed the Afghan soldiers who did not fight after the American withdrawal left them with no prospect of holding their own against the Taliban. Biden’s remarks were a cruel attack upon soldiers who had founght valiantly over the years, at a cost of some 68,000 lives.

He didn’t mention the girls of Afghanistan, who for 20 years displayed great courage in going to school, too many times at the cost of their lives. Angelina Jolie pays tribute to these girls and women, and their courage.


What is happening on the ground in Afghanistan? UPDATED August 29, 2021

“General amnesty has been granted,” he wrote, adding that “we are focusing on future.”
Yet there are growing reports of detentions, disappearances and even executions of officials at the hands of the Taliban, in what some current and former government officials describe as a covert and sometimes deadly pursuit of the Taliban’s enemies.

Leaving behind computer records that would enable the Taliban to identify who worked with the allies and acted as intelligence sources is inexcusable, as inexscusable as the American surrender and withdrawal which was not negotiated subject to serious conditions.
The closer you look. the more shocking and scandalous the Biden administration’s decisions and actions related to the American withdrawal seem to be.

The American military’s record is definitely mixed. While they seem to have done an impressive job with their airlift out of Kabul airport, given a disastrous lack of planning, perhaps the most enduring image of the U.S. military’s performance was their departure from Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night, without even telling their erstwhile Afghan “partners” they were leaving.

While there is ample blame to be shared by others, particularly Joe Biden, Anthony Blinken, and Jake Sullivan, Lloyd Austin was Secretary of Defense and directly responsible for the military’s failings. If there is to be any accountability for this catastropHe, Austin should be fired–along with Blinken and Sullivan.


There is no new Taliban (Updated August 20, 2021)

In failing to recognize that its surrender to the barbarism of the Taliban in Afghanistan was a major defeat for civilization and its defense of human rights and the rule law, the United States has committed a tragic mistake.

It has abandoned 38 million Afghans to the barbarism of a medieval terrorist regime, and 19 million Afghan women to the dictatorial rule of a misogynistic Islamic ideology which predates the Enlightenment and has not been influenced by it.

The American and allied capitulation to the barbarism of the Taliban must be understood as a terrible setback to civilization and the values of the Enlightenment.



Afghanistan and the Decline of Enlightenment Values

The withdrawal of the U.S. and its allies from Afghanistan, and its inenluctable consequences, represent a signal retreat by the U.S. and its democratic allies from the defense of democratic values and the ideal of democracy.

The great tragedy is that 20 years of support for the democratic project in Afghanistan had produced impressive progress, in what was necessarily a long-term project. The failure of U.S. military and political leaders to understand and accept the long-term nature of the project—framing the question of Afghanistan as one of “When can we bring the troops home?”–was the fundamental and ultimately fatal flaw in U.S. strategy in the country.

Powerless. That’s how I and many others feel in the face of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw completely from Afghanistan. Despite the wholly predictable consequences of that decision, Biden remains stubbornly defiant, ignoring or indifferent to the realities unfolding before him.

Powerless, as undoubtedly many millions of Afghans in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and other cities must feel today.


We have forgotten the lessons of the 20th Century. International Peace and Security cannot be taken for granted. They depend on support of and adherence to international law, and the constant reaffirmation of international law, including human rights law and humanitarian law.

We have fogotten the lesson that aggression and crimes against humanity and war crimes must be vigorously resisted, or their perpetrators, like Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, will triumph.

We have forgotten the lessons of Srebrenica, that crimes against humanity must be resisted, stopped, and punished.

Ultimately, there is no rational defense of stupidity. Stupidity may accompany a lack of empathy or sense of moral imperatives to defend sacred moral values.

Regardless of whether it is the product of callous indifference or brute stupidity, or a combination of the two, Biden’s withdrawal decision seems to be set in stone. And even the rational analysts’s observations, like those of the historians, may fall like ashes into the dark canyon of oblivion.

Will the values of the Enlightenment be saved, resuscitated to light the way of a stumbling humanity which has lost its way?

It all depends on us. With deep faith in humanity, surely on a brighter day, those of us who are creatures of the Enlightenment and who still believe in the highest values of humanity, will again somehow find our way.

For we must.


Taliban take Kandahar prison, Afghan morale in free fall, Biden delusional: Afghanistan Chronicle – August 11, 2021

As the democratically elected government of Afghanistan teeters on the brink in the face of a Taliban onslaught which is the result of President Joe Biden’s disastrous decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country, Biden and his foreign policy team are disconnected from reality. In his op-ed in the Washington Post, Max Boot highlights the “delusional” thinking in the Biden administration. This thinking could find no more cogent illustration than the fact that Biden is proceeding with plans to hold a Summit of Democracies in December.

The Silence of the Generals

One question permeates a deafening silence: Where are the retired American generals and defense officials who should be screaming from the rooftops about Biden’s surrender to the Taliban, and his passive acceptance of Taliban war crimes on a growing scale?

These generals and officials fought the Taliban, and watched over 2,500 American soldiers die fighting the Taliban.

Where is their patriotism now? Why don’t they speak out and shout out about what is going on?

If they remain silent, they will take the shame of their silence to their graves.