Monday, 14 February 2022

War shouldn't be a diversion from parties


An understanding of history is always useful in considering current events, but there can be a problem when people look at that history through a very narrow filter. The current UK government seems unable to see anything except through the filter of ‘the war’, which is colouring their judgement more than a little. For Ukraine, see Czechoslovakia; for the Donbas, see the Sudetenland; for Putin, see Hitler (minus the moustache and with cropped hair). The comparison breaks down completely when they get to ‘for Johnson, see Churchill’, of course. Whilst there are some obvious parallels, assuming that the outcome will therefore be the same is a dangerous and simplistic place to start – yet all the UK’s statements suggest that is exactly what they are doing.

Whilst the EU, and especially the French, are at least trying to engage in rational discussion, sending the UK’s, shall we say ‘geographically challenged’, Foreign Secretary to shout slogans at the Russians in an attempt to boost her leadership credentials to dictate where, on Russian soil, Russian forces are allowed to be stationed looks particularly counter-productive. Fortunately, the Russians understand that the current UK government is an international joke as well as a domestic one, and are treating the Foreign Secretary accordingly. Johnson’s bluster about the UK leading Europe in responding to the situation is just that, bluster; and his government’s clumsy comparisons with the events of 1939 even managed to upset the people they claim to be trying to help.

Nobody knows whether Putin will decide to mount a full-scale invasion (or even a more limited incursion in 'support' of what he sees as ‘Russians’ in the eastern part of Ukraine). The ‘intelligence’ which leads some politicians to claim that they do know is of the same dubious quality as that which told us that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction which could be turned on us in 45 minutes. What we do know – to misquote Churchill – is that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war”; one of the lessons of the past which the current government seems to have difficulty understanding in its desperate search for a diversion from parties and police investigations. The best contribution the UK government could make to peace in Eastern Europe at the moment is to lock Liz Truss and Ben Wallace away and get Boris Johnson back to the much safer (for everyone else at least) ground of parties and prosecco, allowing the serious European leaders to try and negotiate a way forward, building on existing unimplemented accords. If they had any sense of self-awareness at all, Johnson and co wouldn’t even need to look back as far as the 1940s to understand that making international agreements and then failing to implement them merely stores up trouble for the future.


dafis said...

You say ...."The comparison breaks down completely when they get to ‘for Johnson, see Churchill’, of course" When it comes to Truss it is even more difficult to make a comparison. The Russian Foreign Minister reportedly claimed that it was like trying to engage with an unaided deaf person. Truss is a prize example of the "I'm British so you must listen school of diplomacy".

At least the Russian was polite to her probably thinking she would go home to shout at her neighbours or to make dumplings as soon as the meeting was over.

Jonathan said...

My european guidline is Germany. Historically, they were both allies of Russia and invaded it and got a sharp lesson. They are not going to war with Russia because they other methods of dealing with the Russians.
Trump got Russia right. He understood the gangster mentality, from his days in NYC, and would have ended up doing something similar to Germany, but with a more credible force option just to keep things honest.
The UK is essentially following the Clinton/Biden/Democrat/Defence contractor line ie that Russia is still the USSR, because they are stuck in that pre-Reagan mindset. This pays them a lot of money, and distracts the public from internal difficulties. And distracts the public (though not Mr.Proscutor Durham) from what Hillary got up to when Sec of State.
So the UK is definitely going down the wrong path on this. But we are in an odd situation in the UK. We have to wean ourselves somehow from Covid hysteria and need something else to think about. Not war though.

dafis said...

Jonathan - I think that UK Gov is quite happy with a shift of focus away from Covid which was an expensive example of what can happen when you get stuck into "lucky dip"decision making but legimizing it by referring to it as "science". Now we have all the recriminations about parties at Downing St,and elsewhere no doubt,which in the minds of the UK's MSM was sufficient to push Ukraine off the front pages for a while. And we know that UK's MSM is a key determinant of UK Gov's behaviour and policy making.
The massive tub thumping that Boris, Truss et al are now engaged in is pure posturing. Sure thing they may freeze criminal assets stashed in London but Putin ain't counting on that as collateral in the medium term,if at all. Their hot air, pardon pun, is a smoke screen to distract attention from the hideous cost of living mess that is now striking deep into all income classes below the comfortably rich and they don't like it either. This is a regime that has no clue at all about reversing the problems they have been ignoring. Indeed they ignored them for that reason. They have galloped off on a half baked green agenda without mapping out any of the key stages of any transformation. FFS, they haven't even got a plan for vehicle charging points and no clear indication of how they intend upping the availability of juice in sufficient volumes to keep all those EV's supplied. As with Brexit they are long on talk and criminally defective when it comes to action.