Wednesday 30 March 2022

A well spent life

'He remained at Swansea for the rest of his academic career, serving as head of department and dean of the Faculty of Arts during the 1980s, before settling into “modestly comfortable” retirement in Portland Place, Marylebone, cultivating, as he put it, the “life-mode” of a gentleman of 1840, “relishing the last enchantments of Regency and resisting the early onset of earnest Victorians”.
From the obituary in the Telegraph of Richard Shannon, the historian of 19th century England and biographer of Mr Gladstone. It said that he showed no interest in the bloke culture of his native New Zealand. He sounds an admirable role model and soul-mate, except for the years in Swansea. The period as a history don at Peterhouse, under the mantle of the great Maurice Cowling, I very much envy him.

Sunday 27 March 2022


"It is good to have been born in this time of decay. Our generation was granted a privilege that future generations may never know—a view of Western civilization in its totality, and a knowledge of its inner meaning. We were given the pure truths of the Christian religion, and the morality of sacrifice which turns renunciation into triumph and suffering into a secret joy. We also had the chance to see what will happen should we lose these gifts. . . . Of course it is hard to feel the full confidence that those teachings require. But they are addressed to each of us individually, and their validity is not affected by what others think or do. We have within ourselves the source of our salvation: all that is needed is to summon it, and to go out into the world."
Sir Roger Scruton

"The Right Honourable gentleman has sat so long on the fence that the iron has entered his soul."  
Lloyd George on Sir John (later Viscount) Simon.

“Here lies an anachronism in the vague expectation of eternity”.
Dorothy L. Sayer's detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, expressed his desire for this epitaph on his grave -in the fourth of “The Wimsey Papers”, published in the Spectator during World War II.

“Am I not deserving of praise for the moderation which marked my proceedings? Consider the situation in which victory at Plassey had placed me. A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy…I walked through vaults…piled…with gold and jewels! Mr Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation!"
Robert Clive commenting on accusations of looting the Bengal treasury after his victory at Plassey, at his impeachment trial in 1773.

A January 2015 interview with George Friedman about Ukraine is very illuminating today

A January 2015 interview with George Friedman sheds light on the war raging now in the Ukraine. 

George Friedman was the founder of Stratfor and then Geopolitical Futures, which forecast the course of global events. The full interview is here.

GEORGE FRIEDMAN: For all of the last 100 years Americans have pursued a very consistent foreign policy. Its main goal: to not allow any state to amass too much power in Europe. First, the United States sought to prevent Germany from dominating Europe, then it sought to prevent the USSR from strengthening its influence.

The essence of this policy is as follows: to maintain as long as possible a balance of power in Europe, helping the weaker party, and if the balance is about to be significantly disrupted -- to intervene at the last moment. And so, in the case of the First World War, the United States intervened only after the abdication of Nicholas II in 1917, to prevent Germany from gaining ground. And during WWII, the US opened a second front only very late (in June 1944), after it became clear that the Russians were prevailing over the Germans.

What is more, the most dangerous potential alliance, from the perspective of the United States, was considered to be an alliance between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.

A lot of misinformation about Ukraine

Marți Hari of Finnish intelligence, in his fascinating talk on Russianness on December 3, 2018, to which I linked before, says it is certain that the Malaysian Airline Flight 17  was shot down by a missile from the Russian 53rd Air Defence Brigade and says the uprisings in 2014 in Lugansk and Donetsk were staged by Russian soldiers who sometimes forgot to take off their armbands. This is what I had read years ago but it is good to have it confirmed, because there are a lot of unreliable things churning around in conversations in real life and on the net, repeated, sometimes by people you'd not expect. 

We know, because the Daily Mail has told us so, that there were biolabs in Ukraine funded by Americans and Hunter Biden made a large amount of money helping arrange finance. Trump's friend Roger Stone (he was sentenced to 40 months but received a presidential pardon) thinks this means the Americans or Ukrainians were preparing chemical or biological weapons. I am sure this is not true, but you, gentle reader, can decide for yourself. 

This is not to say that we should trust the mainstream media very far (remember their long, mendacious record from Kosovo and Iraq to Covid and Hunter Biden) and still less the Ukrainian side of the story - even the good guys use propaganda in war. 

Fog of war - do not believe what you read in the media uncritically

I don't think Russia expected the war in the Ukraine to last so long and go so badly for them, but nobody knows. 

Optimism has crept into my heart about Ukraine over the last week, but I am worried that I am being manipulated.

A week ago on March 18 retired US Colonel Douglas MacGregor told Fox News that 

"The war is really over for the Ukrainians... Are we going to stop trying to use Ukraine or anyone else as a battering ram against Moscow?"

That was how it had seemed at one point. 

Saturday 26 March 2022

Mr Biden's little outing to Warsaw goes horribly wrong - Alexander Nevzorov, the seer

Speaking in Warsaw tonight, Mr Biden said of Mr Putin, "For God's sake - this man cannot remain in power."

Many people, and not just Americans, feel the same way about Mr Biden.

The White House quickly intervened to say the President was not calling for a regime change in Russia, but this is exactly what he did call for - in other words he told Russians that their war is one of self-defence and justifying the Kremlin's insistence that the revolution in Kiev in 2014 was American instigated regime change.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

'What used to be called the Global South does not always share the priorities and perspectives of Yale Law School.'

Another sign of what a man I know (Matei Paun) calls the great decoupling, from the Wall St Journal.
'In a development that suggests trouble ahead, China’s basic approach—not endorsing Moscow’s aggression but resisting Western efforts to punish Russia—has garnered global support. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blamed the war on NATO. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to condemn Russia. India and Vietnam, essential partners for any American strategy in the Indo-Pacific, are closer to China than the U.S. in their approach to the war.

'Western arm-twisting and the powerful effect of bank sanctions ensure a certain degree of sanctions compliance and support for symbolic U.N. resolutions condemning Russian aggression. But the lack of non-Western enthusiasm for America’s approach to Mr. Putin’s war is a phenomenon that U.S. policy makers ignore at their peril. Just as Western policy makers, lost in fantasies about building a “posthistorical world,” failed to grasp the growing threat of great-power competition, they have failed to note the development of a gap between the West and the rest of the world that threatens to hand the revisionist powers major opportunities in coming years. The Biden administration appears not to understand the gap between Washington and what used to be called the Third World, the degree to which its own policies contribute to the divide, or the opportunities this gap creates for China.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

The Crețulescu church

The Crețulescu church early this morning. In the first volume of Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy queues of people flock there in September 1939 to pray for peace. She lived across the road.

Putin's hubris - an interesting comment on an article in Unherd

"The Cheka believe it is the role of the rest of the nation to serve their purposes. Putin was born into the Cheka, his father and grandfather were Chekists. The Cheka were murdering 40,000 a month by 1918. Putin was surrounded by Chekists who acted as oriental courtiers. Putin’s actions are based upon hubris.

"If Schroeder and Merkel were KGB assets could they have done more to help Russia? S and M closed down nuclear reactors: made Germany and Europe dependent on Russian oil and Gas, reduced defence spending to 1.2% of GDP and failed to maintain military equipment.
Perhaps Putin’s hubris was induced by Germany’s actions?"

I think his hubris was induced by many examples of what the Soviets called western decadence.

The ‘Iranian-backed Houthis’ get little help from Iran. The Saudis are committing terrible war crimes in Yemen.

Peter Hitchens and many other people say the invasion of Ukraine is not so bad as the war waged by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against the Houthis. I confess I long ago forgot to follow this and real news is very hard to find anyway.

Patrick Cockburn is the person I most trust on the Middle East because he's very left-wing and left-wingers seem to be the most objective people to read on the subject of the Middle East. They are not committed to the American narrative (dread word Wallace Arnold would say - I find myself sounding like him).

Increasingly hard left and hard right resemble each other: anti-American, anti-war. This war in Ukraine splits both left and right but too many people swallow the Russian (renamed KGB) line hook, line and sinker. Far more people think Putin is Hitler or mad or both.

This is Cockburn in a very interesting recent essay in the New Left Review.
"The Houthis in Yemen, for instance, have been fighting for years and receive little material help from Iran, but are almost always described in the Western media as ‘Iranian-backed Houthis’, implying that they are simply Iranian proxies, which they are not. In Iraq, some of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Shia paramilitaries) are under orders from Iran, but others are independent."
What a huge amount of harm America has done in the world, especially since Reagan left office but going back to Lyndon Johnson and the 1960s cultural revolution.

Monday 21 March 2022

"Putin Lives in Historic Analogies and Metaphors": political scientist Ivan Krastev interviewed about Vladimir Putin

DER SPIEGEL: What was your impression of Putin?

Krastev: Very intelligent and quick, forthright, confrontative. Sarcastic when speaking with someone from the West. But it is the small things that reveal the most about people. He held forth about the situation in the Donbas like a foreign service agent who knows how many people live in each village and what the situation is like in each of them. He considered the fact that primarily women were responsible for Russia policy in the Obama administration to be an intentional attempt to humiliate him. The hypocrisy of the West has become an obsession of his, and it is reflected in everything the Russian government does. Did you know that in parts of his declaration on the annexation of Crimea, he took passages almost verbatim from the Kosovo declaration of independence, which was supported by the West? Or that the attack on Kyiv began with the destruction of the television tower just as NATO attacked the television tower in Belgrade in 1999?

I recommend this interview. It reinforces my idea that Putin's wars have been reactions to US actions starting with Kosovo in 1999. He sees the Americans and British as hypocrites and this is very understandable. We are not hypocrites in the true sense of the world because a hypocrite is a conscious dissembler, but we have been hypocrites in the modern post Freudian sense of the word, meaning not seeing the mote in our own eye, for example in making war on Yugoslavia and recognising Kosovo as an independent country.

Mr Krastev thinks Putin and his KGB colleagues are full of guilt that they let the Soviet Union come to an end.

The refugee's tale

I had dinner last night with a foreigner who has lived in Kiev for twenty hears and just arrived in Bucharest, very shaken by his experience of two weeks being bombed and full of understandable cold anger at Putin. Kiev inhabitants are determined never to give in and never will.

The Russians deliberately bomb civilians, he told me. I knew this anyway.

He and everyone he knows like Zelensky now and think he is doing a good job.

Some have decided to stay, others to leave. He suspects he may never return and nor will most of the refugees. He thinks it's important when you flee to flee to somwhere nice where you'll enjoy living. 

The so-called ethnic Russians in the east are just as much Ukrainian as the Ukrainian speakers and just as patriotic. The inhabitants of the enclaves that Putin created in Lugansk and Donetsk feel Ukrainian.

I was reminded of the ethnic Germans in Eupen and Malmedy who were the most patriotic of all Belgians during the Second World War and afterwards.

I had dinner last week with a Cambridge educated British friend who told me he sees this war as a reasonably cheap (in terms of Ukrainian lives not money) way to defeat Putin and the populists and boost Nato and the EU.

Does anyone in the State Department or the chanceries of Europe think like this?

I hope the war will not cost many more lives before it ends, but Ukraine will still lose much much more than had she promised Putin to be neutral in January.

David Goldman writes for Asia Times, sometimes under the pen name Spengler. He is a keen observer of life and just posted on Facebook:

The Biden laptop revelation has geostrategic implications: If the Intel Community and Big Tech can tilt a presidential election by alleging "Russian disinformation" and squelching evidence of Biden's corruption, Moscow will conclude that it is dealing with fanatics in the US.

Putin is responsible for all the things the Azov Brigade did in Donbass, obviously

All the people killed by the Ukrainian army and irregulars in Donetsk and Lugansk would presumably not have been killed had Putin not arranged for his proxies to set up so called republics in 2014, backed by his troops in disguise. The locals there just want to be left alone, several well informed people tell me (a British ambassador, a famous British journalist and a leading foreign businessman in Kiev).

So let's not pay much attention to the doings of the neo-Nazis in the Azov brigade, who admire the murderous nationalist Bandera rather than the murderous Bolshevik commissars on the other side in 1941-4. I am sure the armies fighting for the rebel enclaves include equally extreme and violent young men, like Igor Strelkov (or Girkin) who is accused of shooting down the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

On the other hand, Biden and Blinken are clearly hugely to blame for having provoked Putin when they should have ended the idea of Ukraine joining NATO.

Sunday 20 March 2022

The view from China: the most interesting thing I have read about the war

I forgot to link to this essay, which is eye-opening, published on March 12 by the deputy head of what the English would call a think tank, advising the very top of the Chinese regime. It was sent to me shortly after it appeared, by a retired US diplomat.

The essay was later withdrawn and an apology was issued.

Three excerpts:

At this point, Putin’s best option is to end the war decently through peace talks, which requires Ukraine to make substantial concessions. However, what is not attainable on the battlefield is also difficult to obtain at the negotiating table. In any case, this military action constitutes an irreversible mistake.

At present, public opinion believes that the Ukrainian war signifies a complete collapse of U.S. hegemony, but the war would in fact bring France and Germany, both of which wanted to break away from the U.S., back into the NATO defense framework, destroying Europe’s dream to achieve independent diplomacy and self-defense. Germany would greatly increase its military budget; Switzerland, Sweden, and other countries would abandon their neutrality. With Nord Stream 2 put on hold indefinitely, Europe’s reliance on US natural gas will inevitably increase. The US and Europe would form a closer community of shared future, and American leadership in the Western world will rebound.

China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. 

Saturday 19 March 2022

Justin Bronk of Chatham House: The Russian army is seriously running out of momentum

"Given that Mariupol continues to hold out despite being surrounded, bombarded and starved without supplies for three weeks, and Russian forces have been unable to take Sumy, Chernihiv or Kharkiv, it seems highly unlikely at this point that Russia can muster sufficient forces to attempt a serious assault on Kyiv in the coming weeks.

"....Ukraine has mobilised hundreds of thousands of reservists and civilian volunteers, and is receiving huge supplies of weaponry and other key aid to equip these new forces in the relatively secure western half of the country..... As a result, Ukraine has an ever-increasing advantage over the Russian invasion forces in sheer numbers, but committing these newly mobilised forces to operations en masse will result in extremely heavy casualties and limited effectiveness due to lack of training and experience.

"But the longer this war continues, the worse position Russian forces will find themselves in and the larger and more capable the Ukrainian reserve and volunteer forces will become. If Ukraine can sustain the current pace of combat without overcommitting its inexperienced new forces, it can deny the overstretched Russian forces an opportunity to consolidate their current positions and may be able to force them to retreat in other areas as their supply lines and staging areas become indefensible. However, if Russia manages to force a ceasefire that leaves its forces in place, then it is likely to use that pause to reinforce its frontlines, get logistics support to its beleaguered units and renew its ability to sustain offensive momentum."

Many people said that as Russian victory was certain it would be best if Ukraine surrender. I did not agree and now it seems as if Russia is stalling.

I had wanted a peace based on Finlandisation as soon as possible, but is that different from surrender? It's inevitably going to happen, whether or not it is surrender.

The Russian slow advance and failure as yet to besiege, let alone take, Kiev changes things. A ceasefire will help them reinforce their troops.

But do they want to take Kiev, which they might be well advised not to try to do?

In other words, I am confused.

Still God save us from an endless war that goes on for a long time, like the Spanish Civil War.

No-one expected Finland to fight so effectively when Bolshevik Russia invaded in 1939 but she did, finally made peace in 1940, invaded Russia in 1941 alongside Germany and ended up being the one Soviet ally that was free, independent, democratic and capitalist. So independent that everyone thought she was neutral. 

Charles XII expected to defeat Peter the Great but the Battle of Poltava made Russia the great power she still is and Sweden the powerless country she remains.

I have tended to skip accounts of warfare when reading history but I shan’t from now on. War is history in the raw. It's unpredictable because it is decided by the decisions of millions of people, as Tolstoy teaches in the last chapter of War and Peace. 

Evaluation of Russia by Martti Kari (former colonel in Finnish military intelligence)

If you have an hour this talk by a Finnish former colonel in military intelligence,
delivered on December 3, 2018, is very informative about the Russian mind.

He makes the obvious point that Russians are used to and like a strong autocrat. 

Orthodoxy, autocracy and "the people" (narodnost) have always been the three elements of Russianness. 

The Patriarch Kirril was photographed wearing a EUR 30,000 watch. He and the Church are a vital part of Putin's system.

Putin's shameless lying is something Russians understand and accept as normal.

The Russians think they have to save Europe and they did, from Napoleon and Hitler. 

Martti Kari might have added that they helped save Europe from Turkey and Islam in numerous wars with the Sublime Porte.

They consider that they have a mission to unite Slavs. Poles and all the Slavs other than the Russians disagree, of course, but the Serbs and Bulgarians are friendly.

It reminds me of the letters of the Marquis de Custine published in 1839, which did for Russia what De Tocqueville did for America. I was struck when I read Custine, just after going down from university, how similar the Russia of Nicholas I and the Soviet Union were. For example, critics of Nicholas I were put into mental hospitals for thinking Russia was not the ideal country just as critics of Brezhnev were.

Much of what Custine said is true today. 

The Russian invaders are stalled in Ukraine, for now


"It seems to me that Russian don't believe so much in their civilising mission, but they are convinced of our decadence." Emil Cioran in 1986.

"Migrants Syria Trump Brexit Putin. I’ve never known politics be so interesting. Well not since the coup in Moscow and before that 1989." My Facebook status 6 years ago yesterday.

"A world is collapsing before our eyes", tweeted by French ambassador to the USA Gerard Araud in November 2016, as it became clear Donald Trump had won the presidency. He hadn't seen anything then.

The world is being transformed in extraordinary ways and fast. As Mark Twain's Pudd’nhead Wilson said, "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t."

How strange compared to the comparatively dull period between 1948 and 1988.

Even as a schoolboy in Brezhnev's Era of Stagnation I saw that the Cold War kept the peace - in Europe.

Putin would not have invaded the Ukraine were Trump in office because he would not have enraged the most friendly US President he could ever hope for. But that's in the past.

Should the West have sent troops into Ukraine after Russian proxies seized parts of the Donetsk oblast? I and almost everyone thought not in 2014 and did not even want a Nato backed proxy war there, but now I wonder if we were all wrong. 

But that's also in the past. 

The explanation for why the American defence establishment (the 'deep state' as Trumpians call it) long hated Putin might be less because of Donetsk and Crimea than that they blame him for 
President Trump, but the Americans wanted to wrest Ukraine from his orbit long before Trump was elected. 

That's in the past too. 

What matters is ending the war quickly. 

Can China help?

The French Foreign Minister says the Russians are only pretending to negotiate.
"Just as in Grozny (in Chechnya) and Aleppo (in Syria), there are three typical elements - indiscriminate bombardment, so-called humanitarian 'corridors' designed to allow them to accuse the other side of failing to respect them, and talks with no objective other than pretending that they are negotiating.
The Russians have stalled for a week. Nato and Ukrainian anger are the crucial factors delaying the invaders. Al Jazeera (the best source of news) commented:

This is one of the big surprises of the war so far: that Russia’s military with its “new” professional army has barely achieved any of its strategic objectives and, in terms of applied combat power, logistics, command and control and general morale and focus, has underperformed across the board. 
Military communications have been so bad that Russian generals have had to move much closer to the front lines to exert some control over the tactical situation there. Three generals have so far been killed in the war, an almost unprecedented number in any modern conflict.
It's four now plus, someone said, a Chechen general.

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman on Wednesday 16th, three days ago:

The strains on the Russian war effort are already evident, from the army’s hesitation about trying to fight their way into cities and the recruitment of mercenaries, to the reported appeal to China for help with supplies of military equipment and Putin’s fury with his intelligence agencies for misleading assessments and wasting roubles on Ukrainian agents who turned out to be useless. He is now having to choose between a range of poor outcomes, which the US suggests may include escalation to chemical use (which would be both militarily pointless and test further Western determination not to get directly involved).
We are now beyond the point where Putin has much ‘face’ to be saved, even if it were a priority for the other major powers to save it. In launching this disastrous war he has revealed himself to be not only a vicious bully but also a deluded fool.....
As there can be no Western-led peace talks without Ukraine, it should be made clear to Moscow that for now this is a card for Zelensky to play. The future of the Russian economy can then be in his hands. Should a moment come to start to ease sanctions, some leverage will be required to ensure that any agreement is being honoured. There could be a link to reparations for the terrible damage caused.
“Fanaticism”, according to George Santayana, “consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.” As his original war plans failed Putin has insisted his forces follow a disruptive and cruel strategy that has put his original aims even more out of reach and Ukraine with a say over the future of the Russian economy.'

David Goldman also on Wednesday:
Zelenskyy now accepts Ukraine neutrality, Lavrov accepts Ukraine sovereignty (minus some Russian control of Donbass, not to mention Crimea, I assume). That's the shape of a compromise, along the lines of Minsk II. As Steve Bryen has been writing, that was the only basis for a negotiated solution before, and remains so now. Russia originally proposed Minsk II; the French and Germans signed on; Washington opposed it. For all the blather about Russian Army incompetence, it looks like Putin is accomplishing his objective: Beat up Zelenskyy until he accepts Russia's original terms. Of course, if you believe that Putin is a new Stalin who wants to restore the Russian Empire, his army hardly seems up to the job. But if Putin's war aims are highly focused (keep Ukraine out of NATO and missiles far from the Russian border), he seems to be succeeding. The cost well may be higher than he expected, but he can still sell oil and gas -- the Netherlands gas price has fallen by half since the crisis peak. After the dust settles and the virtue-signaling loses its novelty value, Putin will have won.

Lord (Conrad) Black on the Mark Steyn Show on GB News made interesting points including: sanctions against Russia won't work because Russia can get anything it wants via China (I am not sure if he is right ); there is no possibility of nuclear war; the numbers of dead are very tiny compared with the destruction of Tokyo, Warsaw or German cities in World War II (obviously); Macron is competent, unlike Biden or Kamala Harris, but there are intelligent people in the US government like Jake Sullivan. 

Mark Steyn made the point that, unlike 1941-5, when Stalin threw away millions of young lives, Russia has far fewer young men. It's the first time I saw GB News but Mark Steyn is always good.

Seen on Facebook: ecology as GDR disinformation

My Facebook friend says "the institute for European defense and security studies wrote a paper over thirty years ago about East Germany’s promotion of green ideology to undermine the West’s industrial capacity".

Thursday 17 March 2022

From Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

"Nothing ever looks emptier than an empty swimming pool." 

"I might even get rich - small-town rich, an eight-room house, two cars in the garage, chicken every Sunday and the Reader's Digest on the living room table, the wife with a cast-iron permanent and me with a brain like a sack of Portland cement. You take it, friend. I'll take the big sordid dirty crooked city.”

“The tragedy of life, Howard, is not that the beautiful die young, but that they grow old and mean. It will not happen to me.”

“You talk too damn much and too damn much of it is about you.”

“He was a guy who talked with commas, like a heavy novel. Over the phone anyway.”

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Russian oligarch's house in Belgrave Sq. occupied by squatters used to belong to Chips Channon

From the diary in yesterdays's Times. Sir Henry Channon was the ineffably glamorous MP for my distinctly unglamorous home town, Southend-on-Sea.

On V.E. Day Channon threw a very grand party in that house. The guests included much exiled royalty and many peers and peeresses.  He said to the heiress Emerald Cunard, ‘This is what we were fighting for’. To which she replied, 'What, are they all Poles?’

The story about the squatters in the house, which is now worth reportedly £50 million, is here

Dr. Johnson said this

 "To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life. Many wants are suffered, which might once have been supplied; and much time is lost in regretting the time which had been lost before."

"Every man of any education would rather be called a rascal, than accused of deficiency in the graces."

"The Irish are a very fair people, sir. They never talk well of one another." (This is also true of Romanians.)

Monday 14 March 2022

The secret of happiness

'Undergraduates owe their happiness chiefly to the consciousness that they are no longer at school. The nonsense which was knocked out of them at school is all put gently back at Oxford or Cambridge' (Sir Max Beerbohm). 

This is true, but I think this happiness lasts right though life, personally.

GDPR is a symptom of European decline. So is the EU.

GDPR is a big mistake and a parable. A parable that teaches that the European Union is a disastrous, completely useless, bureaucratic, authoritarian disaster. I used to think the EU was fine for Europe though not for England, but I see now that it is terrible for Europe too.

From an article in the Telegraph today:

“The report found that on average GDPR had reduced sales from tech companies by 2pc. And it had reduced profits by 8pc. Even more seriously it also found it has had a greater impact on smaller companies and left the American tech giants largely unscathed.

Talking about death in Kiev

"Everyone is afraid now that bombs may take the lives of people we love. That fear is normal, and right now many of us feel distant from God. But we must remember our real values, which are about eternal life in Heaven, not temporary life on Earth. If we love God dearly, we know that bodily death is just a chance to meet Him sooner.”
From the sermon preached yesterday at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church in the eastern Kiev suburb of Brovary. The story is here.

Did priests say this about Covid? The Pope erroneously linked Covid to the state of the environment.

He seems to talk more about climate change and refugees than the four last things (Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven, in case you didn't know).

Sunday 13 March 2022

A visit to Ukraine in 2014

(One of the three or four best holidays of my life was a visit to Ukraine in 2014.)

I paid five lei (90p) for a shared taxi from Sapanta to Sighet, a distance of eight or nine miles and there met Kevin who had driven up from Bucharest. We crossed the Ukrainian border in half an hour.

Ukraine is enchanting and reminded me of the Romania I knew and loved in the Nineties. The Northern Maramures and the Ukrainian  Carpathians are as beautiful as anywhere I've ever been, included Bosnia, Switzerland or Transylvania. 

We started over the border and in a moment were in Solotvino, the birthplace of Robert Maxwell, the bouncing Czech, who in fact came from here - Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, which was in Czechoslovakia after being in Hungary and before being taken by the USSR.

Our second stop was Dilove, the centre of Europe, at least according to the Austrian imperial government. I remember when John Major became Prime Minister of England and said he wanted Britain to be at the heart of Europe Charles Moore pointed out that the centre of Europe was in fact some miles south-east of Vilnius. However there appears to be more than one suitor for this honour. I hope this one is the real one, outside the EU and in a neglected and forgotten country.

I wrote this on Facebook, no doubt in an airport, in January 2018

Measuring my life in cappuccinos.

The world increasingly resembles the shopping area in a vast international airport. No air or grass or roots but there are worse things. This is in fact the 19th century liberal dream of free trade bringing peace and prosperity. And a shopping area is nothing more than a bazaar but one with the same brands in every corner of the world.

Nations survive as Thai and Mexican restaurants and even a pub, though not the smoky, family-unfriendly pub full of opinionated old men and subversive opinions, loudly voiced, that we formerly knew.

And in the background men (and women) with machine guns.

Putin is not an existential threat to the West but there are existential threats

I wrote this on Facebook in May 2017 and it is still true, though less true than then.

'Sir Alec Douglas-Home said the Soviets move when they see an opportunity. They always have. Like a knife, they push ahead when they hit butter, and back away when they hit steel. Soviet policy seeks a "maximum of confusion and a minimum of commitment.” Putin is following closely in the KGB tradition.

'Luckily, unlike the USSR, Putin does not even vaguely desire to change or conquer the world. I don't think the USSR was an existential threat to the West. Putin certainly isn't. So don't be distracted by fears about Russia. Because existential threats do exist.'

Lvov, Lviv or Lemberg, the Florence of the East

I was enthralled by Lvov, the Florence of the East when I spent three days there in 2014, in one of the three or four best holidays of my life, though it was, I wrote, "almost too touristy. On the cusp." I kept intending to go back to the city and the George Hotel.

I ate in a WW2 resistance themed restaurant. We queued outside till the door opened and I was asked for the password that my hotel had given me. The resistance were Banderists, World War II nationalists who fought Communists until the late 1950s, killed very large numbers of Polish and Jewish civilians and partisans during the war, as well as Soviet soldiers. The Russians call them Nazis though the Germans despised them. I regret not visiting in 1990 when I could have done and seeing the last days of the USSR.

Photo: Marzena Pogorzaly (2013)

The Ukrainian nationalists began as murderous anti-Polish terrorists in the 1930s and ended as the anti-Bolshevik resistance, secretly backed by the CIA, in the 1950s. Bandera wanted to be war criminal but Germans kept him in camp in comfortable quarters until near the end when it was too late for him to do much. Khrushchev had him murdered in West Germany in the 50s.

In Western Ukraine he is a hero, in Eastern Ukraine, with many Russians and far from Catholic Europe, he a great villain.

I visited his birthplace, a museum and sort of shrine.

Ukraine is doomed by geography, much more even than Poland or Romania which at least are free and prosperous American/ EU satellites.

Bandera should have tried in the 1930s to help Ukrainians suffering under Bolshevism and dying in the Holodomor or Terror-Famine or Great Famine. The Ukrainian rump state he hoped for before 1939 was unattainable and would have been powerless in the face of Stalin or Hitler, though so it turned out was Poland too. Had Hitler considered the Slavs, who speak Indo-European languages, as Aryans and intended to liberate them from Communism the Ukrainians would have fought happily on his side. The Banderists fought on his side anyway, in a lose-lose situation.

This is my hotel the George in Lvov/Lviv/Lemburg when I was there in . I like to find the oldest hotel in a city, the one that's a landmark, and hope it's mildly run to seed, shabby genteel. This one is exactly that, like the Londonskaya in Odessa or the Pera Palace in Constantinople before it was renovated and thereby ruined.

St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Lvov, handed back by the Orthodox church:

The KGB Gestapo NKVD prison in Lvov where so many died. Putin, of course, was head of the renamed NKVD, the FSB.

Saturday 12 March 2022

The Ukrainian War will transform the world

"The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted from two immense strategic blunders, (Robert Service says. The first came on Nov. 10, when the U.S. and Ukraine signed a Charter on Strategic Partnership, which asserted America's support for Kyiv's right to pursue membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The pact made it likelier than ever that Ukraine would eventually join NATO -- an intolerable prospect for Vladimir Putin. 'It was the last straw,' Mr. Service says. Preparations immediately began for Russia's so-called special military operation in Ukraine."
Wall Street Journal last weekend.

"The European Union has announced that all Ukrainian refugees will receive temporary (one- to two-year) protected status regardless of where they apply for it. The Dublin Convention – which requires the first country of entry to assess migrants’ asylum applications – has been tossed out. One hopes the EU will now follow the same process for all future asylum seekers, regardless of their skin color.

"The hope is also that peace will soon prevail, making the latest influx of refugees into Europe temporary and reversible. But, given the vast scale of the destruction in Ukraine, and the lingering effects the war (and the pandemic) will have on its economy, EU member states should be prepared to host refugees for the medium to long term."

Hrishabh Sandilya and Zhivka Deleva, Project Syndicate

Instead of serving up a pack of lies, the Kremlin would have done better to have ordered its conscripts, and itself, to read War and Peace. On the eve of Borodino, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky says war is not chess; “success never depends . . . on position, on equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position”. “On what, then?” someone asks. “On the feeling that is in me and him . . . and in each soldier.” Leo Tolstoy, who had seen war close up, was right. Which is why, in the end, the Russian conquest of Ukraine will also be Putin’s abysmal defeat.  

3 wonderful quotations

"If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose that Freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too." Somerset Maugham

"Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper." Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"They had both noticed that a life of dissipation sometimes gave to a face the look of gaunt suffering spirituality that a life of asceticism was supposed to give and quite often did not." Katherine Anne Porter

Will the effect of sanctions on the Cypriot (or Maltese or even Greek) economy cause another euro crisis?

I'd say Cyprus is the most vulnerable. In the Big Four there I am told there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the moment.

Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph yesterday:

'If anyone thinks London was a laundromat for oligarch money they have not been paying attention to Cyprus. It is the offshore banking centre for Moscow and St Petersburg.

'There was more than €100bn of Russian investment in the island - with a population of just 1.2 million - in 2020 alone. Cyrus is also by far the largest investor in Russia, as money gets recycled through its financial system into the homeland (it 'invests' almost 20 times as much money into Russia as Germany, according to data from the central bank in Moscow).

'What happens to that now is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t sound good. Malta is in the same boat: it stopped selling passports to wealthy Russians last week, but there is plenty of its money on the island.

'Even Greece was becoming heavily dependent on Russian money. Normally, Cyprus, Malta and Greece would simply devalue their currencies to cope with the adjustment. Within the euro, as we learned so painfully in 2010 and 2011, that isn’t possible.

'If one of those economies crashes, just as in the Greek crisis of a decade ago, the entire eurozone will quickly be plunged into crisis.'

That old tired cliché, truth is the first casualty of war

I hate Kremlin lies as much as the next man, and am very alert to the danger of being taken in by them, but I have a lot of respect for logic and also for freedom of speech. This leads me to the obvious point that there is, in fact, no "thin line between undermining democracy and supporting free speech" as this article by Ben Marlow in the Telegraph says. Free speech by definition includes the right to attack, denigrate and lie about democracy or about anything else. As it is, propaganda by some actors is banned but not by others. Add examples to taste. We could instead allow all voices to be heard, even those of malignant people paid by murderers.

I suppose the answer is that Facebook and Twitter are private companies that can do as they please.

The Kremlin are past masters of lies but all nations at war lie. 

The two top headlines in the Daily Mail were allegations made by the Ukrainian government. I am completely on the Ukrainian side but journalists should not take what one side in a war says as true. This is of course what happened in East Aleppo where rebel activists were quoted as 'journalists'.

One thing we all learnt from the coverage of Donald Trump, terrorism and Covid is that the media are (unscrupulous often) political actors.

An article by Ben on Thursday is headlined
"Unilever represents the decadent corporatism echoed by Putin's propaganda
Retail giant claims to be ethical yet continues to sell 'everyday essential foods' in Russia"


What would Bismarck or Frederick the Great have thought?

Donald Trump, in an interview banned by YouTube yesterday (because he repeated that the 2016 election was rigged I suppose) said when asked what he thought would happen in Ukraine, 

"We are playing right into their (Russia’s) hands. Green energy. The windmills don’t work. They’re too expensive. They kill all the birds. They ruin your landscapes. And yet the environmentalists love the windmills. And I’ve been preaching this for years. The windmills – and I had them way down – are the most expensive energy you can have. And they don’t work."

So he chose not to answer the question, but he does have a point. Merkel made Germany dependent on Russia. What would Bismarck or Frederick the Great have thought?

Treason, the gallows and free speech

Facebook and Twitter should allow anyone to say anything unless obscene and leave policing to the police. Why shouldn't I say I wish we (British) had hanged George Washington? That loyal remark got hidden on both sites. And after all he is a dead, white, male slave-owner.

But the policy of "error has no rights" which the Catholic Church no longer teaches still obtains on social media.

I have said I wish we'd hanged Begin and Shamir (when they were terrorists in the Stern Gang murdering our soldiers, I meant, not when they were Israeli Prime Ministers), but actually I have never believed on balance in capital punishment, though at one time I did for treason.

I was mistaken. As Churchill said, grass grows on the battlefield but never on the scaffold. The execution of Casement and the Dublin Easter rising men was a terrible mistake.

Odd to think I can remember the only one not executed, De Valera, when in old age he was Irish President.

Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? 
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

Probably hanging the American rebels would have made then martyrs. Indentured labour for life would have been better, and sweetly ironic for slave-owners, except they'd have escaped and continued the fight.

Friday 11 March 2022

New World Order

Pat Buchanan: 

To repeat: If Russia attacks its neighbors Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia, we stay out of the war. But if Russia attacks Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania or Bulgaria, we go in, even at the risk of nuclear war.

Does this seem logical? Does this make sense? Why are we committed to do for Bulgaria--risk war with Russia--what most all agree would be insane in the case of Ukraine?...

If the Finns show an interest in joining NATO, would NATO defend Finland against Russian military action while its application for membership in NATO was being considered? Would all 30 members of NATO welcome a new member, with 5.5 million people and a long border with Russia, for whom all of NATO would be obliged to go to war with Russia, under the Article 5 war guarantee?

Both the next two writers doubt the widespread idea, which I certainly have, that Putin has made a terrible mistake.

Professor Sir Huw Strachan in today's Daily Telegraph.

"The Russian president regards Ukraine not as an independent sovereign state but as an integral part of the Russian empire. Ukraine’s entirely justified rejection of that assumption makes this an existential struggle for both sides. Putin is now fighting for his political survival, just as much as Zelensky and the Ukrainians are fighting for their lives.


"As the war lengthens it will pose fresh challenges. A long war will give sanctions more time to take effect, but don’t expect them to divide the Russian president from his people any time soon. Economic warfare rarely prevails in isolation. It failed to divide the German people from their leaders until the very end of the First World War, and it failed entirely to do so in the Second World War. Rather, common adversity can rally a nation, while deaths in combat – at least for the immediate future – are more likely to represent sunk costs than a reason to stop.
"The effects of economic warfare are also visited on those who employ it. War shattered the globalised economic system in 1914 and it was only finally put back together again after 1990. We are dismantling it once more. The longer the war in Ukraine, the more the unity of Nato and the EU will be strained. Other domestic effects will follow as refugees once again stoke migration across Europe.

I hope this, written by John Keiger in the Spectator, is not true.

"As early as 1920, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who believed that Versailles carried insufficient safeguards against a resurgent Germany, declared: ‘This is not peace, it is a 20 year truce.’ This is the route Putin is taking in refusing to accept the post Cold War system. Whether the West engaged in misplaced triumphalism, or should have indulged Russia more effectively, is moot. What is important is that the post Cold War international system was built on neither Russian moral capitulation nor consensus among the parties to the Cold War. The result has been a ‘thirty year truce’, worsened by the West’s determination to take a peace dividend, like in the 1920s and 1930s."

Whataboutery and Lincoln

I don't like whataboutery - it's so boring - but sometimes it's useful or even necessary. I see people comparing Putin's war (which I utterly condemn) to the recent acts of the Israelis or the Saudis, but I wanted just to say this. Now we see the horrors of war in real time, do you understand why I regard Abraham Lincoln, who waged an unnecessary and, I think, illegal war against the South in which 700,000 in total died, as a wicked man and anything but a hero?

Thursday 10 March 2022

Quotations that seem topical

"For horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation." Wisdom, 3: 19.

“Courage is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible." Churchill

"This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences and, I believe, in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure. And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away. I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is, to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations." Richard Phillips Feynman

CIA has been planning for a Ukrainian insurgency since 2015 - they also organised one back in 1949 that didn't go well

John Ranelagh, a historian of the CIA, argued that encouraging the Ukrainian insurgency against the Soviet regime in 1949 'demonstrated a cold ruthlessness' because the Ukrainian resistance had no hope of success without deeper US involvement, which would not be forthcoming and so 'America was in effect encouraging Ukrainians to go to their deaths. 

In a February 25 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times Jeff Rogg said that 

Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday, but for years now the Central Intelligence Agency has been preparing for such a moment, not only with prescient intelligence gathering and analysis but also by preparing Ukrainians to mount an insurgency against a Russian occupation.
A news story last month revealed that the agency has been training Ukrainian special forces and intelligence officers at a secret facility in the U.S. since 2015. Some U.S. officials have played down the report by claiming that the CIA is simply training the Ukrainians in intelligence collection. Others say the program has another secret purpose, which I believe: preparing Ukrainians for an insurgency in the event of a Russian occupation.

Reasonable of the CIA, but should the American State Department not have tried to prevent an invasion by declaring that Ukraine would not join NATO, instead of declaring exactly the opposite once again on November 10?

Spring in Bucharest, 120 miles from Ukraine


Toxic masculinity in time of war

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play The band begins to play...


My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, 'You're tearing up the grass'; 'We're not raising grass,' Dad would reply. 'We're raising boys.'

Harmon Killebrew

Some of my Facebook statuses on this day and yesterday in other years

Feminists are the locomotive which pulls the train of political correctness.

My favourite number is 7. I never thought about this before though. I imagine everyone's favourite number is 7. Is this so? I would not think very highly of someone whose favourite number were 31, still less 48.

Decline of the West

'lll fares the land to hast'ning ills a prey
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.'

That has been the story of the West in my lifetime. Wealth is going to decay a lot now, for a time, and the birth rate will continue to fall throughout Europe and the developed world. The West will rediscover some manly virtues and be revitalised by this war and but so will the pseudo-West, the Eurofederalists, the neo-cons who are in the saddle now, the globalists and people who want as many immigrants and refugees as possible. The liberals will use Putin as a stick to beat the conservatives. Unfair but politics is, as Alan Watkins used to say, a rough old trade.

Emigration will continue to empty Eastern Europe, including the Ukraine, whose population is dwindling faster than any other European nation. Two million Ukrainians have fled their country, the fastest population movement in modern history. Those in Romania and Poland will mostly return but many will not and fewer of those who fled further west will do so.

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Dogs have good instincts

David Blunkett betrayed a royal confidence when he said (on the radio?) that he had the Queen that his guide dog barked embarrassingly loudly at Vladimir Putin when they met. "What curious instincts dogs have",  HM replied.

Obviously there is no reason why refugees should go from Ukraine to the UK and Ukraine wants refugees to stay close to home

It's bonkers.

News item:

'President Zelensky has told the British Government he wants refugees to stay as close to Ukraine as possible, Grant Shapps has said.

Beautiful Romanian tradition - all traditions are beautiful, unless evil

Had Hitler made International Women's Day an official holiday it would not be celebrated but since Lenin did the BBC marks it with enthusiasm. A much more beautiful and important celebration is today, 9th March, which in the Orthodox Calendar is "Mucenici", the saints' day of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Their martyrdom in 320 for the Christian faith is recounted in traditional martyrologies. For catholics their day is tomorrow.

They were Roman soldiers killed near the city of Sebaste, in Lesser Armenia (present-day Sivas in Turkey), victims of the persecutions of the Emperor Licinius, who persecuted the Christians of the East.

Romanian housewives, or wives since housewives are very rare, prepare pretzels in the form of the number 8, then they make a kind of soup with a lot of sugar, nuts and cinnamon and of course the pretzels. Traditionally 44 glasses of wine should be drunk on this day, but I do not know whether by one person, which seems unlikely, or a team.

Retired US General Ben Hodges in the Daily Telegraph this morning

I very much hope this is true. 

He goes on to say that he originally supported a no fly zone. He changed his mind but the fact that he advocated it at all makes me think him unreliable and very gung-ho.

If he is not right, or even if he is, this might make Zelensky slower to end the war by agreeing to Ukraine being neutral, something he should have agreed to all along or at least as soon as Biden won and the world became dangerous.

Tuesday 8 March 2022

What the military experts say about the war

Daily Mail:

Farida Rustamova, a Russian journalist who was well-connected in government circles before fleeing Russia amid a crackdown on free speech, said sources she spoke to before leaving never believed Putin would go to war and are now making 'apocalyptic' forecasts about the weeks and months ahead as fighting grinds on and sanctions bite.
'They're carefully enunciating the word clusterf***,' one source told her when asked how Russian politicians were reacting to the news. 'No one is rejoicing. Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with it.'

There is a huge amount of Ukrainian propaganda and war hysteria in the British press. 'We are at war' said Harriet Seargent of the Daily Mail and lots of people seem to think 'we' are, even though Putin does not threaten England or Nato - this is because countries are no longer quite respectable things to fight for and values are instead. Yet the Ukrainians are fighting for their country not democracy (they are much more democratic than Russia but still imprison politicians, suppress political parties and their politicians are extremely corrupt, including those at the very top. Mr Zelensky has a house in Italy worth EUR 3.8 million.)

The poor Houthis get theirs

'Helima Croft from RBC Capital Markets said the Gulf states and Iraq have up to 2.5m barrels a day in spare capacity that could be mobilised within 30 to 60 days.

'“We believe that the [Saudi] kingdom could potentially be willing to resume its central banker role and attempt to avert a calamitous global economic crisis,” she said. As a sweetener, the Saudis may be given more leeway to fight the Houthis in Yemen....'

Good news for Ukrainians, bad news for the Houthis. 

And so it goes.

America had put Putin in a lose-lose position over Ukraine

A clever Romanian friend told me at the weekend that America had put Putin in a lose-lose position over Ukraine. He lost if he invaded Ukraine or if her permitted her to join Nato. This, I see, is true.

Romanians are much more cynical than the British. Some people I know in Romania (and one in Scotland) are asking themselves whether America (or a small number of powerful people in America) wanted a war. I do not believe this.

In the late 1940s the Americans encouraged the Ukrainian resistance to fight the Bolshevik government. In 1951 CIA estimated that some 35,000 Soviet police troops and party workers had been killed by the guerrillas, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, but in the end the Americans did nothing to help them. Most of them had been defeated by 1956.

It had looked as if history was about to repeat itself but the Ukrainian forces are putting up much more resistance than could have been expected and this has bought Ukraine time to sway public opinion. 

The public in the developed world (and even in Russia?) will not allow the Ukrainian cause to be forgotten. 

In fact the United Kingdom, to speak of the country whose news I follow most closely, seems gripped by war hysteria. It's like the German waiters scare of 1910.

Monday 7 March 2022

Fog of war

Many very clever people think that if the war goes on a Russian victory is inevitable. Many clever people think Ukraine is doing much better and Russia much worse than could have been expected.

I strongly suspect both points of view are true.

Russia can presumably win at the price of an enormous number of deaths, but this would be a Pyrrhic victory.

In fact a Pyrrhic victory is all Russia can hope for, now. 

Or a deal.

If Ukraine fights on to the death it will be very bad indeed for Ukraine. I hope that an armistice can be signed, posited on Ukraine remining neutral between Russia and the EU/Nato. 

Putin suggested this today, plus recognising Russian annexation of the Crimes, Donetsk and Lugansk. 

I hope a deal is made as soon as possible.

Romanians are much more cynical than the English and several have told me they think America wanted this war.

Michael Clarke, the former director general of the Royal United Services Institute (Chatham House), is a very clever man. I heard him speak at the Ion Rațiu centenary celebration Turda in Transylvania three years ago. Apart from his low opinion of Donald Trump (he thought it was like having a New York cabbie as president, which seemed a positive thing to me) which was only to be expected from the RUSI, he said many things I thought true and others I disagreed with that were well worth hearing. He believes Putin is "finished". 

"We have to think about what happens next," he told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight. 

I think so to, for what my opinion is worth. As I expected Putin not to invade, perhaps not that much.

Two vital interviews to inform yourself about the Ukrainian war

The war in Ukraine is heart-breaking and a terrible crime, as were the wars caused by Frederick the Great and Louis XIV, but war hysteria seems to be sweeping London and elsewhere. 

You'd think England were at war, not the Ukraine. Lots of propaganda is inevitably washing around.

So these two interviews might help you.

This interview with Scott Ritter, the weapons inspector whom we remember for saying that Iraq did not have WMD, is very well worth watching. He talks about why the invasion is happening. 

How stupid the West has been. 

Skip the first 27 minutes of reminiscence which aren’t very interesting. 

Unlike Sir Lawrence Freedman, he thinks Russian victory and a puppet government in Kiev are inevitable.

"If there had been no decision to move nato eastward to include Ukraine, Crimea and the Donbass would be part of Ukraine today, and there would be no war in Ukraine" says John Mearsheimer in this interview. As always, he is right. The interviewer is irritating and not very bright.

Having listened again to the conversation taped and released by the Russians, in which Victoria Nuland talks about her organising the opposition leaders during the Maidan in 2014, I now see the role of the Americans then was probably crucial. This should have been obvious when the tape was released, but I somehow failed to see it.

Finally please read this compilation of very distinguished people, including Dr Kissinger, warning against Ukraine joining Nato, if you haven't seen this stuff before. I have quoted some of it here.