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.


  1. While one may be able to mount a legal challenge to Russia’s contention that its joint operation with Russia’s newly recognized independent nations of Lugansk and Donetsk constitutes a “regional security or self-defense organization” as regards “anticipatory collective self-defense actions” under Article 51, there can be no doubt as to the legitimacy of Russia’s contention that the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass had been subjected to a brutal eight-year-long bombardment that had killed thousands of people.

    Moreover, Russia claims to have documentary proof that the Ukrainian Army was preparing for a massive military incursion into the Donbass which was pre-empted by the Russian-led “special military operation.” [OSCE figures show an increase of government shelling of the area in the days before Russia moved in.]

    Finally, Russia has articulated claims about Ukraine’s intent regarding nuclear weapons, and in particular efforts to manufacture a so-called “dirty bomb”, which have yet to be proven or disproven. [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a reference to seeking a nuclear weapon in February at the Munich Security Conference.]

    The bottom line is that Russia has set forth a cognizable claim under the doctrine of anticipatory collective self defense, devised originally by the U.S. and NATO, as it applies to Article 51 which is predicated on fact, not fiction.

    While it might be in vogue for people, organizations, and governments in the West to embrace the knee-jerk conclusion that Russia’s military intervention constitutes a wanton violation of the United Nations Charter and, as such, constitutes an illegal war of aggression, the uncomfortable truth is that, of all the claims made regarding the legality of pre-emption under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine is on solid legal ground.

    Scott Ritter
    Russia, Ukraine & the Law of War: Crime of Aggression
    March 29, 2022

    1. I am not an international lawyer though I studied the subject at university but this sounds unlikely.

    2. The clearest and most reasonable account of what has been going on in Ukraine:

      On 17 February, President Joe Biden announced that Russia would attack Ukraine in the next few days. How did he know this? It is a mystery. But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the population of Donbass had increased dramatically, as the daily reports of the OSCE observers show. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacted or intervened. It would be said later that this was Russian disinformation.

      In fact, as early as February 16, Joe Biden knew that the Ukrainians had begun intense shelling the civilian population of Donbass, forcing Vladimir Putin to make a difficult choice: to help Donbass militarily and create an international problem, or to stand by and watch the Russian-speaking people of Donbass being crushed.

      If he decided to intervene, Putin could invoke the international obligation of “Responsibility To Protect” (R2P). But he knew that whatever its nature or scale, the intervention would trigger a storm of sanctions. Therefore, whether Russian intervention were limited to the Donbass or went further to put pressure on the West over the status of the Ukraine, the price to pay would be the same. This is what he explained in his speech on February 21. On that day, he agreed to the request of the Duma and recognized the independence of the two Donbass Republics and, at the same time, he signed friendship and assistance treaties with them.

      The Ukrainian artillery bombardment of the Donbass population continued, and, on 23 February, the two Republics asked for military assistance from Russia. On 24 February, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which provides for mutual military assistance in the framework of a defensive alliance.

      In order to make the Russian intervention seem totally illegal in the eyes of the public, Western powers deliberately hid the fact that the war actually started on February 16.

      The Military Situation In The Ukraine
      By Jacques Baud
      April 1, 2022
      Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services.
      Original French:

  2. Waugh wrote in his autobiographical novella The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold that “his strongest tastes were negative. He abhorred plastics, Picasso, sunbathing and jazz — anything in fact that had happened in his own lifetime.” Although this is said of Pinfold, it may as well have been Waugh’s own self-description.

    “My book has been a great success in the United States which is upsetting because I thought it in good taste before and now I know it can’t be.” He was always affectionately scathing about Americans, remarking that “the great difference between our manners [and theirs] is that theirs are designed to promote cordiality, ours to protect privacy.”

    Waugh in Hollywood
    Spectator USA by Alexander Larman

    1. Sorry, Brideshead was a commercial success:

      When Brideshead was published in the United States in 1946, it met with enormous commercial success after being picked as the prestigious Book of the Month Club selection in January. Waugh complained to his friend Maimie Lygon that “My book has been a great success in the United States which is upsetting because I thought it in good taste before and now I know it can’t be.” He was always affectionately scathing about Americans, remarking that “the great difference between our manners [and theirs] is that theirs are designed to promote cordiality, ours to protect privacy.”

    2. I found that autobiographical book (Pinfold) dull.

  3. ‘The majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith; and when the ordinary man calls himself a sceptic or an unbeliever, that is ordinarily a simple pose, cloaking a disinclination to think anything out to a conclusion.’

    T. S. Eliot, introduction to Pascal’s Pensées

  4. Considering the evidence presented earlier, it can be said that McKinsey created the Macron phenomena from scratch, with the drafting of the controversial “Macron 2” law in 2015, and the creation of his political party En Marche. This is now undisputed.

    In light of the current conflict in eastern Europe, if one was to take a serious look at Ukraine and its government, we would find none other than McKinsey & Co., reproducing the very same patterns with the government of Volodymyr Zelensky. In this way, these two “heads” of state are nothing more than actors who perfectly regurgitate prefabricated scenarios scripted by McKinsey.

    McKinseyGate: France’s Shadow Government and the Rise of the Corporate State
    MARCH 31, 2022 By Freddie Ponton

    1. ! I shall read the article. But life is short and articles are long and many.

  5. Eighty-three percent of Russians said they approved of Mr. Putin’s actions, up from 69 percent in January, according to a poll by the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow.

  6. American populists often shy away from foreign policy, but they shouldn't; they must broadcast their anti-establishment message to other countries, making clear that our elites' shoddy "American" empire, wrapped in the stars and stripes, does not represent us. Our elites claim they want to "save the world" by bringing democracy, disseminating education, fixing climate change and redistributing wealth—but they themselves are, in fact, the most imminent threat to the world.

    Yes, America Should Save the World—From its Own Elites
    AUSTIN STONE ON 3/31/22