Joe Biden




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 Crisis, February 22, 2022: Putin makes impossible demands on Ukraine, supports inclusion of Ukraine-occupied territory in boundaries of “people’s republics”; Biden’s “rational actor” approach to graduated sanctions not likely to deter Putin from larger war

The “rational actor fallacy” is a phenomenon well known by political scientists and students of international affairs. The classic study of this phenomena is Essence of Decision by Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard, who demonstrated the flaws in using a “rational actor” model to analyze the behavior of the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
As we wrote yesterday,

Joe Biden, like Barack Obama before him, seems to have fallen into the trap of assuming Russia is a single, unitary mind, rationally calculating costs and benefits in making decisions that determine state behavior. Now, like Obama, Biden is trying to make fine intellectual distinctions in weighing sanctions, as if Putin were an accountant carefully adding up on his calculator the costs and benefits of invading Ukraine.
In fact, however, Putin is a KGB thug, a war criminal (Syria, Chechnya), an apparent serial murderer of his opponents (Boris Nemtsov, Alexei Navalny–unsuccessful attempt, to be sure, et. al.), and someone who invaded the Donbas in 2014 and kept a war going that has cost some 14,000 lives.
–“Ukraine Crisis, February 21, 2022 (Part II): Weighing options–Biden’s Munich moment,” February 21, 2022.

The problem with Biden’s “rational actor” approach to graduated sanctions is that Russia’s actions, at this point in the execution of a huge and carefully choreographed war plan, may not be under the control of Putin, the postulated unitary, rational actor. Moreover, even if they are, the finely graduated sanctions of Biden’s team are not likely to have enough power to jolt Putin out of his war trance in time for him to pull the emergency brake, assuming that he can be persuaded that he needs to.
At this point, only massive sanctions, imposed immediately and simultaneously, might conceivably jolt Putin out if his war trance. Graduated sanctions are very unlikely to do so. Even massive sanctions, holding little in reserve, may not work. But they should be tried.
The one thing that is certain is that there is no single rational actor, sitting in a control room somewhere, who could accurately perceive the threatened impacts of additional tranches of sanctions, and then exercise control over a country and a war machine that are fully engaged in war.


It’s time to play hardball with Germany, and to pull out all the stops to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine (Updated January 25: 2022)

The defeatism in the air is palpable, with American officials apparently resigned to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now talking about increasing the “costs” to Russia if Putin invades.

Worth recalling is the fact that Barack Obama used similar language about “costs” to Russia if it invaded Ukraine, back in 2014. Such threats of unnamed “costs” did not deter Putin then, and they are not likely to deter him now. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the two greatest “costs” that might be imposed on Russia are illusory, and are not really on the table.
It is now time for the U.S. to play hardball with the German government, which is the weak link in the West’s deterrence strategy against Putin.

If Germany won’t make sacrifices for NATO, Biden should withdraw American troops from Germany and re-station them in a country which takes standing up to Putin and Russia more seriously.
Germans and business keaders in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere need to understand that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will not be some minor thing like the Russian military intervention in Georgia in 2008, or even tbe invasion of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Such an intervention would in the intermediate term destroy business relations between the West and Russia, and entail significant risks of escalation to a much wider war, one involving NATO members and the potential invocation of Article 5 of the NATO treaty.

The U.S. could be drawn into defending one or more NATO countries under the mutual defense obligation in Article 5.

If these events were to unfold, the risk of a nuclear confrontation would become great, with the attendant risk of something accidentally setting off a nuclear conflict.

In short, if Russia invades Ukraine, the world as we know it is likely to change, in drastic and unforeseeable ways.


REPRISE: The fatal flaws in U.S. thinking about responses to Russian aggression against Ukraine–UPDATED January 20, 2022

(Ignatius) reported that American military advisors and policy makers were discussing how to provide assistance to Ukrainian “insurgents” or a Ukrainian “insurgency”. Ignatius on January 6 and David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt on January 8 report that policymakers are still using the same terminology.

In doing so they have framed the question in a way which naively fails to take international law into account, much less to use it actively to achieve American deterrence goals, while employing a conceptual framework that assumes Ukrainian defeat. They are talking in terms of providing military assistance to “insurgents” after Russia has taken over Ukraine.

The conceptual framework assumes defeat, while completely ignoring international law and the U.N. Charter.


The fatal flaws in U.S. thinking about responses to Russian aggression against Ukraine–UPDATED January 14, 2022

As far back as December 19, David Ignatius reported on a telltale fatal flaw in U.S. thinking about how it and NATO would respond to a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He reported that American military advisors and policy makers were discussing how to provide assistance to Ukrainian “insurgents” or a Ukrainian “insurgency”. Ignatius on January 6 and David E. Sanger and Eric Schmittt on January 8 report that policymakers are still using the same terminology.

In doing so they have framed the question in a way which naively fails to take international law into account, much less to use it actively to achieve American deterrence goals, while employing a conceptual framework that assumes Ukrainian defeat. They are talking in terms of providing military assistance to “insurgents” after Russia has taken over Ukraine.

The conceptual framework assumes defeat, while completely ignoring international law and the U.N. Charter.

Story also availabe on Medium / James Rowles
See https://jamesrowles.medium.com/



Russian intervention in Kazakhstan II (January 7, 2022)

January 7, 2022 See, 1) AFP, “Russia’s ‘mini-Nato’ intervenes in Kazakhstan Clashes reported in Almaty as govt buildings cleared of protesters,” 24newshd.tv January 7, 2022(7:43…


Russian intervention in Kazakhstan

Analysis and Opinion See 1) “Russia and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) decide to send troops to Kazakhstan–text of CSTO Charter,” The Trenchant Observer, January…


Three urgent actions needed to save American democracy

Sometimes political situations and their implications are very clear to the objective observer, someone like the Observer who is far removed from the buzz of Washington, Twitter, and the latest “breaking news” on the Cable News networks. The Observer is a keen and unbiased commentator who reads many newspapers, both American and foreign, and who has been paying attention to political developments in the United States for a long time.

Drawing on this experience and his own original analysis, the Observer believes that there are three major problems that pose a challenge to American democracy, and that there are three active measures that the Democrats and “little d” democrats should take, now, in order to save the Republic.

Taking down Trump is the single most important action the Democrats can take to safeguard American democracy in 2022 and 2024. Together with passing legislation prohibiting the knowing transmission of lies and disinformation on television and radio, and enacting voting rights legislation, indicting Trump is an essential action in any program to protect American democracy against the anti-democratic and authoritarian threat Trump and his supporters represent.

These three problems represent the greatest challenges to American democracy today.

These three urgent actions represent our best hopes for beating back the anti-democratic challenge before it is too late.


J’accuse

On January 13, 1898, French novelist Émile Zola published his famous letter entitled, “J’accuse” (I accuse), addressed to the President of the Republic, in which he denounced the government and its military command and their antisemitic leaders for prosecuting Alfred Dreyfus, a Captain of Jewish descent, on trumped up charges of treason. Dreyfus had been convicted in 1894, and at a subsequent retrial. Zola’s letter had a decisive impact on democracy and the rule of law in France.

In the United States, we now face a similar if not even graver moment in which the rule of law is at stake. It is a moment in which antisemitic and racist militants actively participate in a fascist conspiracy to overthrow the Constitution and the rule of law.

In these circumstances, the following letter is addressed to “Democrats “and political leaders in the United States, calling on them to act, vigorously and effectively, to defend American democracy.


Should Trump be indicted?

We have set forth the considerations which we believe argue strongly for the indictment and prosecution of Donald Trump for his election-related and other crimes, and for the prosecution of his Republican co-conspirators who joined him in a vast conspiracy to overthrow the election and the Constitution of the United States.
We are faced with a Democratic conspiracy of silence regarding whether Trump should be indicted. It is not a criminal conspiracy, like Trump’s conspiracy to overthrow the election and the Constitution, but it is a conspiracy in the broader sense of the term.
Let us now consider the arguments for not prosecuting Trump and his co-conspirators.


Dispatch from an imagined future: The Fascist Victory in America (2021-2025)

Writing today, on June 4, 2025, it is hard to believe what has happened in the United States in the last few years. It wasn’t easy to uproot my life and move abroad, as a refugee from the fascism which has taken over in the United States.
With my mastery of foreign languages and cultures and history of working in many foreign countries, I have had many options. At the moment, I am in Costa Rica, where I lived for three years decades ago.
The second huge mistake the Democrats made was that they failed to prosecute Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for the many electoral crimes and other felonies that they appeared to have committed.
How the Democrats arrived at the thought that they might pierce Trump’s propaganda bubble without taking him on, and prosecuting him and his co-conspirators, was never clear, and in retrospect defies understanding.
(The Democrats) seemed to have entered into some kind of conspiracy of silence….Since the Democrats would not even allow discussion of the issues related to the non-prosecution of Trump and his co-conspirators, there was virtually no public discussion of their strategy.
Proceeding with this strategy of not challenging Trump directly by indicting him and his co-conspirators, the Democrats lost the House in 2022.  Joe Biden’s domestic initiatives then hit a brick wall….On January 20, 2025, the new Republican president took office. With the election of a Republican Senate and a Republican House, the Trumpists had returned to power. They promptly set about passing laws which curtailed freedom of the press and other civil liberties.
Within days of the inauguration, I boarded my flight to Costa Rica.


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.


Joe Biden ‘s foreign policy judgment: You can’t fill a bucket with a hole in it.

There is no rational defense of stupidity.

To base a country’s foreign policy on domestic opinion, polls, and expected election outcomes is stupid, as countless historical examples illustrate.

The majority of voters are ill-informed and have no serious understanding of what is involved in foreign policy decisions. The country depends on an informed foreign policy elite, government foreign policy experts, and leaders intelligent enough to listen to them and follow their advice.

Joe Biden set out to do something else: to adopt a foreign policy that benefits the middle class.

It just a slogan. Not even Biden or his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan or his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has the slightest idea what it means in operational terms.

I guess what it means for Joe Biden is that it will engender public support and help him and Democrats at the polls in future elections.

Now following such a stupid approach to foreign policy, President Biden has revealed through his disastrous decisions relating to the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the fact that he has no strategic sense or understanding of the myriad factors and forces which interact to produce realities in the field of foreign affairs.

He has an extensive record working on foreign policy issues, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as Vice-President in the Obama administration, and now for seven months as President of the United States.

But you can’t fill a bucket with a hole in it.

What can we expect Biden to do or say at this point about Afghanistan?

Does it matter? …
The only thing he could say that would help the country would be that he is firing Anthony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, and Jake Sullivan for the roles thay played in this catastrophe, and that he is bringing in real men and women of stature to build a new foreign policy team.

Anything else he might say, you can rest assured, will be just more smoke and mirrors.


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.



Meet the Afghans America is abandoning

It is absolutely appalling to speak to fellow Americans, even those who are highly educated and intelligent, and to understand the abysmal nature of their ignorance about Afghanistan, what has happened in that country in the last 20 years, and the people who live there today.

American news coverage from Afghanistan had almost disappeared until this summer, when President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces rekindled interest in some readers about the future of the country after America’s retreat.

To counter this ignorance, The Trenchant Observer is introducing a new feature under the heading, “Meet the Afghans America is abandoning.”

It is late in the game to try to counter the ignorance of the American population about Afghanistan in 2021.

We should bear in mind that polls that show 60% or 70% support for Biden’s withdrawal decision are measuring the views of ignorant and ill-informed people.

This is not so much their fault as it is the fault of American society and culture in 2021, when there is little interest in U.S. foreign policy or what is going on in the rest of the world, and news media–except for a few leading newspapers–which reflect that lack of interest.

Please accept our invitation to meet and learn about some of the Afghans who America is abandoning to the mercies of the Taliban.