Hi folks. I am back on the air, so to speak.
So much has happened over the past few months that I will forgo my usual round-up of events as seen from my perspective, since so much of the “news” that I would have discussed is now old and stale and you will only just become bored if I go over things again here.
If you have read some of my previous articles on this blog, you will know that I have some sympathy with the predicament that Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, find themselves in. I do not subscribe to the usual “Western” view that Russia is bad and that Putin is an evil thug, who just cannot wait to get his hands on as many keys to the parliament doors of other countries as he can.
Of course, only time will tell if my particular view is correct. But, so far, nothing has happened in the world to date that makes me want to change my opinion. And please, don’t throw Crimea in my face. If the stupid Ukrainians, egged on by the USA and their EU lackeys hadn’t messed things up so badly in their country, Crimea would have still been part of Ukraine today. In fact, as the days roll on, with the never ending nonsense constantly sprouted by our politicians and mainstream media, the patience that Putin and Russia continues to have with the rest of us in the West, is astounding.
So it was on this note that I was completely knocked over by two very good articles on this subject written by Pete North. Now, Pete has been a radical in his own right in the past and was pushing all of the boundaries when he led a very vociferous campaign in support of Brexit (The Blogger’s Army). In fact, some of my Brexit articles made direct reference to his work and his blog. Pete has recently come under some criticism for the tone and direction of the campaign that he supported, but that is neither here or there and definitely does not alter the fact that much of what he writes deserves greater attention.
So on this “come-back” edition, I can do no better than to present to you the two articles in question, especially as they pertain to my line of political interest. The second, later dated article packs the most punch and cuts straight to the heart of this whole “Russia/West conflict” and highlights the stupidity of the majority of our Western politicians. However, the first, earlier dated article is a sort of a lead-in article, which I am sure inspired Pete to write the second one and I therefore I present them here in chronological order.
by Pete North (10 Nov 2016)
While the pundits are drawing parallels between Trump and Brexit it worth examining some of the other signals of late. South Africa, Burundi and Gambia are set to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile Poland and Hungary are becoming increasingly eurosceptic and pro-Russian sentiment in Estonia is growing. It seems the totems of the elite global order are under threat everywhere and it’s not just the people of the West who have had enough.
What has been frightening in recent months is the willingness of the West to talk up the threat of Russia. Up until yesterday we appeared to be sliding inexorably toward a second cold war. This may be averted by the election of Trump. For reasons that escape me this is a bad thing. Some may call it appeasement but I would have thought it wise to tone down the rhetoric if only to buy a little more time. More talk is always better.
It seems that the West’s beef with Russia is Russian action in Syria. This I cannot fathom. If Assad has lasted this long then it is fair to assume that he will stay the course. For better or for worse this is a war that needs to end and Russia is ending it. The West had an opportunity some years ago but it would have required boots on the ground and extensive air operations. After the messes in Afghanistan and Iraq there was no public consent for such measure thus we relegated ourselves to the sidelines. We are now reduced to military me-tooism, executing mostly useless air strikes so that we feel better about ourselves. We are in no position to be making demands or calling the shots.
To me that suggests that Western influence has been much diminished by our clueless adventures. Like Vietnam we try to fight wars without actually doing those things that are normally associated with having a war. We are squeamish and there is zero tolerance for civilian casualties. What makes Russian activity all the more decisive is Putin having no qualms about doing what in his view needs to be done to bring about an end to this destructive conflict. This makes Russia the power broker and this is what the West has a problem with.
In more ways than one Russia is proving to be the skewer of Western delusions. In this you have to examine the propaganda efforts of Putin. For years now Russia Today has given prominence to Ukip and the Tory right, massaging Eurosceptic sentiment. Not just here in the UK either. There has been a concerted effort on the part of Russia to undermine the EU.
Moreover, the EU and western political elites have not done themselves any favours. UK politicians like to preen about our enlightened liberalism – often citing gay marriage – which is a flashpoint issue across Europe. It was never really discussed. It was nodded through by parliament and the politically correct atmosphere at the time meant that nobody really put up a robust opposition to it. We went along with it because for the UK, for the most part, it does not matter to us as an issue. Not so for Poland and Eastern Europe though, particularly Ukraine which as an EU candidate state is having the full PC agenda rammed down its throat.
Putin has been able to capitalise on the growing gulf between the people West’s aloof and disconnected political class. I recall just recently Putin putting out a video of him condemning a recent decision by a UK judge to spare punishment of an immigrant youth arrested for sexual assault on the grounds that he didn’t know any better.
As it happens, I can sort of understand the ruling in that a key part of our legal values requires that we examine the intent of a crime, but the fact of the matter is that we should not be importing people who do not know instinctively that sexual assault is not the done thing – and it isn’t racist in the slightest to demand that we have a more robust immigration policy to ensure the safety of our people. But the suggestion of racism is never far from the surface.
In this, Putin is keen to show to the world that the West is decadent and weak and unable to uphold its values without being caught up in the quandary of moral relativism. Our judgements may be technically right but the real world consequences is more foreign rapists on the street who go unpunished. YAY for western progressivism!
While Putin’s tactics are only half effective in the UK they really do speak to Eastern Europe which is still heavily Catholic. What is notable about the election of Trump and Brexit is that it is very much the shires versus the cities. I expect that is also true of Poland and Hungary. There is a feeling that normal values are being undermined by a liberal elite – imposing their values on the people, belittling their own values (aided and abetted by the BBC) and removing the means of debate. I’m not the first to point out that it is the politically correct left who put Trump in the White House.
In the eyes of the Western progressives this makes Putin enemy number one. He offends all of their values and and stands to be more popular with the Western working classes than they are. Not for nothing are those on the right who call for a more rational discourse with Russia labelled Putin sympathisers. If I recall correctly Clinton even pulled that one on Trump.
Meanwhile the public are taking a close look at the disintegration of their moral norms – more advanced in the USA – with a ruling class spending more time debating third gender bathrooms than jobs and growth, and finding they have more in common with Putin than they do their own “leaders”.
Meanwhile, while our idiotic politicians debate the frivolities they have abdicated real governance to a class of remote globalists who are not in any way accountable to the people. The EU is one such aspect of an emerging network of global organisations, many of which are barely acknowledged. Even my own Twitter account has more followers than Codex Alimentarius. You could be forgiven for thinking that government was no longer in the hands of people we elect and the people we elect have completely lost the plot.
And there’s every justification for thinking that. Our politicians are ever more keen to ramp up the rhetoric and deploy ever more forces on Russia’s doorstep not out of any real principle – but because Russia is an existential threat – not to the West, but the globalist claque dominating Western politics. If there were any real commitment to our values of mutual defence then the EU, having gone to extensive lengths to bring Ukraine into the fold, would not have hung them out to dry.
This is really about political self-preservation. What the UK, EU and USA have in common is a gilded class of politicians who think they are entitled to power and all they need do is join the queue. Bush follows bush, Clinton follows Clinton, Brown follows Blair, and were it not for Brexit our next PM would be Osborne. And for those like Kinnock and Clegg there is a revolving door club – the EU, an antechamber for the up and comers and a retirement home for the political failures. After which it’s on to that UN club in the sky where you rake in the millions for after dinner speeches.
That’s the global level where the real power is. Brown and Blair were dumped by the electorate but now have special envoy status. We do not as yet know where Mr Cameron will find himself and Brexit has closed down the options but there is always a golden safety net. In this realm of politics the NGOs and the corporate foundations roam free, accountable to nobody, making up the rules as they go, signing treaties that never see parliamentary scrutiny. And of course parliament never objects to crown prerogative then.
This is the political cronyism that drives globalism. The concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few. Brexit upsets the programme quite a lot and so does the election of Trump. Most now expect that TTIP is dead. Next up, eyes turn to France where there is a good chance Le Pen could defeat Sarkozy – himself one of the gilded few. France now holds the key. They can bring the whole house down and collapse the EU.
If you look at Twitter right now the big thing that frightens them is the very real possibility that Trump will bring the climate change cult to an end. Without US backing, China walks away and then it is consigned to the fringes. And that’s no bad thing because if you look at any global rulemaking, attached to it is the UN Sustainable Development Goals which are effectively social policy exports to lesser developed countries. Cultural imperialism. This is why Russia is so hostile to NGOs.
It is specifically because Russia does not play along with the West’s decadent and childish delusions that Russia has been made the international pariah. It is said that Putin will be celebrating at this weeks news. Maybe so. The era of the globalist clique might well be over.
As most now know, climate change is the pretext by which the globalists exert their power, using the imaginary threat [of] planetary extinction to leverage more and more control. Anyone who sees the game in play is immediately labelled a populist or conspiracy theorist or worse – but the cat is out of the bag now. It has been growing for some time and everybody can see how corrupt it is.
This does not make Trump a revolutionary – it just makes him the catalyst. The authority of our ruling class has been on the wane for some time. In all likelihood Trump will be as bad, if not worse than the old order, but what should concern us is what comes out the other side. Trump will most likely put the WTO into stasis, which is effectively a moratorium on comprehensive trade deals the likes of TTIP. Few on the left or right will mourn its passing.
This is being billed as a retreat from economic and social liberalism. I don’t know that it is since the EU and the US cannot by any measure be described as economic liberalism and US style social liberalism means being free to say as you please just so long as it is kosher and approved by polite society. The short of it is, the global orthodoxy that has been growing since the end of the cold war is over. Or at least it is circling the drain. That is no bad thing at all.
What we are seeing is a global political realignment where the people are voting for populists not in order to install populist regimes but to depose an immovable ruling class which has gradually sought to dismantle democracy and the powers of the nation state. It uses the language of progressivism to camouflage its true intent which is the economic and social imperialism of a very select few.
This is not a resurgence of fascism nor is it a rejection of liberal values. People just want government that acts in their own interests and doesn’t dictate morality. Ordinary people are tired of being harangued and coerced and are tired of being taxed to pay for things they don’t have a say in. What is being built in our name is being built without our consent and mostly by deception.
This change is not an endorsement of Putin’s authoritarianism and it is not an endorsement of Trump either. What this is is a complete rejection of a political class that has outstayed its welcome and is out of ideas that can counter the empty rhetoric of Trump and Farage. But what is interesting is how Farage is already irrelevant. His purpose has been served and sooner or later Trump will be forgotten too. What we have done here is set change in motion. What that looks like nobody knows but the people have decided that now is the time for change.
As it happens, if this does embolden Putin, he is mistaken. Brits still remember the cold war. Brits are still inherently suspicious of Russia and if anything Russia’s propaganda games have been superfluous to a shift in mood that was happening under its own steam. It may well mean the death of the EU and Western globalism – and it may even force us to come to the table with Russia. We’ll need to move away from the climate change dogma that has dominated the world stage for the last two decades and focus on jobs and growth.
If that happens we may find Russia can be a great ally with massively untapped resources that could very well ease a great many of our problems. I find that prospect a whole lot more appealing than another cold war. Western virtue signalling has deadly consequences. I for one am glad the people have been wise enough to seek another path. I’m not willing to see British soldiers die for a global order run for the enrichment of Clintons and Blairs.”
It gets better! Here is the second article:
by Pete North (11 Nov 2016)
Straight of the bat let’s get one thing clear. I do not admire Putin, I do not sympathise with him. He is a bad man doing bad things. For Labour and a surprising number of largely europhile Tories this is reason enough to send us down a particular path that looks very much like a second cold war.
Yet there are other bad men doing similarly bad things, some of whom we supply with massive cahces of small arms, others we lease the most advance combat aircraft known to exist. We’ve done it for all of my adult life ultimately because if you are a politician it is better to have highly skilled highly paid engineering jobs in Lancashire than it is to have peace in the Middle East. We do it on the basis that if we didn’t, somebody else would.
This is one example where we engage with the world as we find it, accepting those things we cannot change. This, for reasons that escape me does not apply to Russia. Russia has invaded Georgia and Ukraine and has taken command of the Syrian situation while jailing journalists and murdering members of the political opposition.
For some reason we take a principled stand against this. So much so that we are prepared to start a new cold war by pouring weapons, men and equipment into Eastern Europe. Over the last three years we have seen a mutual ratchet effect where we could see the stand off last seen in the nineteen eighties becoming the norm once more.
While we averted any direct confrontation it did lead to a number of messy proxy wars and mutual meddling in each others sphere of influence to the detriment of developing countries and at great expense. I would argue that it is a matter of urgency that we do not repeat this destructive cycle and should seek constructive dialogue in good faith even if Putin has ulterior motives. This is not appeasement. It is diplomacy.
The fact is that Putin has rather skilfully played the West. We have been elbowed out of Syria and we might as well admit that EU moves to annexe Ukraine have lead to the permanent loss of Crimea along with a land bridge. We might wish it were otherwise but horses have bolted and ships have sailed. Any aggressive moves to reassert ourselves would most likely result in an unwelcome escalation. And is this capitulation? Yes it is. And that is exactly the case I am making.
Putin has rather skilfully exploited the West’s inept handing of the middle east and has called the EUs bluff in Ukraine. Putin has shown that the EUs commitment to the defence and integrity of Ukraine is only skin deep and that the fragile EU alliance means that harsh sanctions are simply not going to fly. We’ve been messing where we should’na been messing and now is not the time to be demanding a rematch.
There is one glaring fact we must acknowledge here. Absolutely nothing is served by an escalation in tensions. We are not prepared for a war, we do not want a war and we lack the necessary social cohesion to fight one. The values that Putin is advertising to the catholic east of Europe are values more in line with them than those of the EU. The idea that the provinces of Poland are salivating at the thought of EU freedoms is an infantile self-delusion. These are countries that have a very active far right.
And by far right I don’t mean half a dozen skinheads from Lancashire who spray swastikas in subways after drinking a pack of special brew. I mean straight up fanatical nazis. Nazis who have a lot of tacit sympathy because of events in the last century. Then there are Russian speaking communities who have no affiliation whatsoever with Western liberal progressivism. If the US can’t even get a mandate for such values in the USA what makes the EU think they can install them in Poland or Hungary?
The EU in playing its dangerous expansionist games is winding rather a lot of people up the wrong way. And if that is true of Eastern Europe the same can be said of the Balkans which are still as bitterly divided as ever they were. The fact is that these are nations not yet ready to be joining grand alliances while they still have basic issues of self determination to resolve. And why should they take any gambles when Ukraine shows that the EU is all mouth and no trousers?
The fact is the EU has no stomach for war nor is there any particular consensus on a stance toward Russia. At every challenge the EU has folded and Russia wins small territorial gains each time knowing that there is no appetite for retaliation. In this you could either take a chest-thumping bravado line in that tyranny must be confronted but the net result of that is world war three for the sake of some rust belt that has no particular regard for the West anyway. There are times to pick your battles and thus far there is nothing worth climbing off the fence for.
We have to think longer term. Putin will not be in power forever. Moreover, if we apply principle with Russia then that same principle must also apply to Turkey which is engaged in equal and possibly worse conduct. But since the EU does not want an influx of refugees we look the other way. Labour is fine with that but still has it in for Russia.
If we are going to be hypocrites then we may as well go the whole hog and start cooperating. Russia is a broke ass country with a dilapidated military but it is resource rich and it has plenty of open space. Russia can be far more than it is and if we concentrated the sum total of our foreign aid on Russia in order to cope with the global migration crisis then we could have a major ally and for once Russia need not be the folk demon of Europe. I think an influx of investment would buy us more cooperation than outright condemnation.
I appreciate this is where there is a danger of drifting into political naivety the likes we have seen among left wing intellectualism during the cold war but as a general rule we should always be looking for other avenues than hostility. It’s just a matter of finding terms of cooperation that are equitable for both sides. In the end money never goes to war and when goods cross borders, troops don’t.
What the election of Trump shows, and to an extent Brexit, is that Putin’s robust social attitudes are close to the public’s heart than Western liberal elites whose power is on the wane. For sure we do not want to see persecution of homosexuals but when it comes to the jailing of journalists we are halfway there already. I would throw half of the FTs staffers in the slammer on competence grounds alone. (I jest).
The truth is that the West has gone too far down the liberalism rabbit hole and Russia is the equal and opposite reaction. To me this suggests there is room to meet in the middle and devise a new northern hemisphere order that includes Russia. If we are truly interested in peace then the inclusion of Russia should be our holy grail. Especially since the last decade of economic and social isolation of Russia has only made things worse.
The persistent need of the UK left to demonise Russia is to atone for its own sins and it is a means of virtue signalling. The virtue signalling aspect of the Labour centrists is an interesting phenomenon since it derives from a time when marginal voters were not convinced that Labour could be trusted with the defence of the country. To win over Tory voting waiverers it would require a more robust stance on defence and to provide proof that the communist sympathising militants had been well and truly ousted.
Since then we have seen a Labour government more bloodthristy than any since World War Two, and this the new generation of sabre rattlers are in fact not all that far removed from Corbyn in that they are fighting the battles of the 1970’s. In the rush to prove that Labour can show muscular resistance to global evils they have become the most bloodthirsty bunch since the American neocons. The recent writings of Left Foot Forward’s James Bloodworth (nominative determinism at its best) shows us that the ideological struggles of yore have snowballed encompassing the need to differentiate along with Blair’s brand of liberal interventionism.
The result of this is a corp of young turks on the left who have distilled the modern power struggles between the West and Russia down to a simple sentiment. “Russia is bad”. Russia is nasty to gays. Russia is nasty to all the favoured liberal causes. And this is what compels them to risk full blown confrontation with a very real military power that could very easily plunge the world into its third bloody conflict. It’s infantile.
We saw this best expressed by Hillary Benn, a shadow of a man desperate to distinguish himself from his great father. A man whose insecurity drives him to plea for the useless bombing of Syria in solidarity with the French who are engaged in equally futile gesture strikes over Syria. Russia controls the situation on the ground, they control the airspace and those targets we choose are those targets where the risk of confrontation is minimal and the risk of civilian casualties is zero.
This is the West’s new mode of non-intervention intervention. We send out the bombers to give the impression that we are striking at the heart of evil when what we are actually doing is wasting a lot of time and money at the pleasure of the Russians who dictate when and where we can strike. In foreign policy terms we are simply playing at it; playing infantile games with high technology to zero effect. If ISIS is being repelled it is down to the bravery of those Kurds and Iraqis on the ground who have finally got their act together.
What has become clear is that the West has lost moral authority not just in the wider world but at home too. We have substituted foreign policy for charity and virtue signalling and we have lost the ability to act in the national interest. Our strategic abilities are muted and our priorities are skewed.
At the heart of this is the schism between our national destiny and the phoney EU value system. This we have voted to resolve and in the wake of that we must re-evaluate all of our options even if that means doing a deal with the devil in the greater good. One thing is clear though, Labour lost the right to wag the finger at authoritarian regimes the moment it became the unofficial policy to subvert the referendum. If their unstated aim is to undo the biggest electoral mandate for a generation then it seems Labour has far more in common with Putin than they would care to admit.”