Tuesday 31 May 2022

7 quotations

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters." Alice Thomas Ellis

"I’ve got no interest in my own emotional state. Or myself. I find my own emotional state the most boring subject I could think of." Dominic Cummings talking to Suzanne Moore.

"Personally the last person I want to know about is myself." William Trevor

A.J.P Taylor on Hitler

There have been so many Hitlers since the real one died and the world's obsession with the Nazis has grown more and more obsessive since the late 1970s. Now the fear of Hitler will become even more obsessive thanks to Putin, who is wicked but not evil or mad.

Thinking so led me to google some thoughts about Hitler and wickedness by the great left-wing British historian A.J.P Taylor.

"Hitler was a rational, though no doubt a wicked, statesman." 

"In principle and doctrine Hitler was no more wicked and unscrupulous than many other contemporary statemen.''

Adam and Eve, from the painted monastery at Voroneț, 'the Romanian Sistine Chapel'


David Goldman understands the Ukrainian war

I am utterly on the side of the Ukraine against Russia and am very sure that, were it not for incompetent American diplomacy or worse, the invasion could have been avoided.

David Goldman's latest article is the cleverest, most rational thing I have read about the war in the Ukraine. Unfortunately in time of war emotions take over.

'I argued in 2008 and on many subsequent occasions, including the February 2014 note in PJ Media reposted below. The obvious course of action in Ukraine was to permit its people to vote for a divorce, as the Czechs and Slovaks did. Instead we elected to keep the NATO option open for Ukraine, knowing that this was a red line for Russia. Never mind that Putin is a wicked fellow; he is a predictably wicked fellow with a well-defined understanding of Russian national interest, and his response to Ukraine’s prospective NATO membership was entirely predictable.'

'After three months of nearly-unanimous media predictions of the collapse of Russia, it now appears that the Russian army is close to controlling the Donbas. Extricating it will be difficult if not impossible. The result, as Henry Kissinger suggested at Davos last week, will be (eventually) a peace in which Ukraine cedes territory to Russia. All the “don’t appease Putin-Hitler” rhetoric will simply make us feel shabbier when we make the deal. We should feel shabby. We screwed this up on the grand scale.

'Our bathetic outpouring of sympathy for Ukraine served mainly to obscure the ugly fact that Russia has better strategic weapons than we do (hypervelocity missiles and the S-400/500 air defense systems). No doubt the Russian army is corrupt, as Western commentators aver, but not so corrupt by orders of magnitude as our Pentagon, which pays top dollar for obsolete weapons while Russia and China innovate. The Javelin and Switchblade and Stinger are fine toys, but the West remains in fear of Russian nuclear weapons–as well we should. The Biden Administration won’t sent long-range missiles to Ukraine because it fears, correctly, that Ukraine might use them to attack targets deep inside Russia and start a broader war.'

Neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz, US Under Secretary of Defense, set out the so-called Wolfowitz doctrine in 1991. His ideas appeared to have been vanquished but are still held by the US State Department.

'We endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Monday 30 May 2022

Lockdowns etc: they plan to do it again and soon

This obscure British news item has world significance.

A British Conservative politician seems to think that politicians in the next few years are "sadly likely' to impose regulations comparable to the ones that accompanied Covid.

Be warned. If he thinks so, so do other influential and powerful people in many countries.

'Jeremy Wright, a former culture secretary and ex-attorney general, said he feared Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street had done "real and lasting damage to the reputation not just of this Government but to the institutions and authority of government more generally".

'Mr Wright said it is "sadly likely" that ministers will again in future have to ask the nation to comply with tough rules and restrictions and the events of partygate "makes that consent less likely".'

From an FT interview with Andrei Kozyrev, Russian foreign minister 1990-96, published on March 18 2022

Full interview here. It's ten weeks out of date and he is far away, in Miami, but interesting. He is quoted in The Times as saying failure in this war may lead to a Kremlin coup against Putin, which is obviously a possibility. But he does not expect nuclear war and thinks Putin's threats of one show Putin's weakness.

I ask if Russia’s invasion came as a shock to him. “Absolutely,” he says, even with all the US intelligence reports. “It was so brazen. So unthinkable . . . That’s why people think [Putin’s] crazy,” Kozyrev says. For his part, Kozyrev believes Putin still thinks he is acting rationally. Not reasonably, Kozyrev clarifies, but rationally. Authoritarian regimes “cannot be sustainable without these kinds of formal aggression. Because they are unstable inside,” Kozyrev argues. 

Moreover, he thinks Putin has come to believe that the Ukrainian people truly want to be liberated by Moscow. “He believes in all those lies which his propaganda feeds the Russian people.”  

Kozyrev is in awe of Volodymyr Zelensky — “He’s proven to be a real wartime president, more or less like Churchill” — but shares the Ukrainian president’s frustration with the EU, US and Nato, arguing that they are not doing enough to help Ukraine. 

 “They continue to treat him in a regular bureaucratic way,” he says, suggesting that the west had been too focused on Ukraine meeting a certain set of criteria, such as certain anti-corruption requirements, rather than recognising the extraordinary period of crisis that Kyiv was in.
“It was the same with us,” he says, referring to the US’s insistence in the early 1990s that Russia implement serious economic reforms at the same time as the oil price was cratering and ordinary Russians’ livelihoods were in freefall. “We needed money. We needed something like a Marshall Plan.” 
Kozyrev rejects the idea that Putin cannot reverse course in Ukraine. “I don’t buy all this talk that he cannot back down. For [Joe] Biden, [Boris] Johnson, the western politicians, backing down means you will lose public opinion.” Putin does not have this worry. 

Facebook likes to remind me each day of things I posted in previous years: here are a few from 2017

Thank God life is about literature and history not physics or chemistry. But biology is also life.

My taxi driver was a handsome man of forty with a young spirit and infectious love for life. He remembered having driven me before. He remembered that I seemed 'disconnected' and relaxed. He also said I had the air of a prime minister or politician, which is true, but added that we should rejoice that we were not politicians who are bought and sold. He and I were eagles. Of course he got a nice tip. He seemed a deep and original thinker. He then explained to me that the earth was flat and stationery. The moon landings were staged. The first flat earther I've knowingly met, though we know that more people in England think the moon landings were faked than think Labour will win the election. He told me to tell no-one about this except my girlfriend and I feel bad about posting this yet cant see what harm it can do.

An article by a French researcher in the left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz on May 24th 2017 said the question is not how Islam got radicalised but "how radicalism got Islamified." Unfortunately the article has been taken down.

Muslims know that the West means Christendom even if the West denies it.

British politicians, please don't say "We won't be divided" - we are now divided, into ethnic and confessional cantons. Thanks to you.

I am not a nationalist (I'm a Metternichian conservative) but I do think that the nation is the most important thing, as far as politics is concerned, and I assumed naively that everyone else did too. But they don't. Not just communists like Corbyn and McDonnell but lots and lots of people don't.

From 2016. Five or six immigrants to the UK have said similar things to me:

A British Pakistani Facebook friend just sent me this message. "hi, how's it going, Paul? Trying to avoid facebook debates these days. Just read the news - they're towing in african 'refugees' 5 miles off the coast of Libya hundreds of miles to Italy. The EU really is a nuthouse. This is an invasion and the EU is faciliting it!
My god, London is unrecognizable now
the lefties are playing a very dangerous game
My brother says he doesn't feel like he's in England anymore when he goes to London"

Wolfgang Münchau: Are sanctions making Russia richer?

In the Spectator an article by Wolfgang Münchau headlined

Are sanctions making Russia richer?

'At this rate, Russia’s current account surplus could hit $250 billion. So the extra money being banked by Russia is almost the same amount as the $300 billion of central bank assets and foreign currency reserves that were frozen by the West after the invasion.'

America will pay a price for freezing (confiscating) US bonds owned by Russia and it might be very high indeed.

I start to ask myself: is the West making a terrible mistake spending so much money on the Ukrainians?

I quote this by John Winterson Richards.

Is this an irony or a paradox? Putin invaded the Ukraine on the assumption that he would win a conventional war easily and the West responded by starting an economic war which it thought it would win easily - and both may turn out to be equally badly mistaken.
The war on the ground looks to be heading to a stalemate, probably with any territorial gains slightly in Russia's favour but not by much, certainly not enough to justify the political disaster of the humiliation of the Russian Armed Forces, and the grand strategic disaster of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Putin overestimated the efficiency of his military and underestimated that of the Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, it looks as if Western sanctions may prove more damaging to the Western economies than to Russia. There are always markets for the raw materials which are the basis of Russian exports. Discounts can be used to cement existing alliances. For the rest, Russia appears to be retreating into autarky, which is far from optimal but which is not without a silver lining. It is politically advantageous to Putin that disinvestment by foreign businesses means selling their assets cheaply to Russians - some states have even adopted that policy deliberately: it is economically disadvantageous in the longer term but popular with the masses in the short term.

David Goldman is always brilliant and might be right

David Goldman (Spengler in Asia Times) today quoted Ukrainian officers who say 

"that the Russians they are fighting now are a much improved force than the force they faced two months ago. Armor moves with infantry, artillery fire is coordinated and on target, they are well led and well organized, they are more effectively massing fires, their counter-battery fire is rapid and on target. They have settled into a slow-grind tactic that they are 'comfortable' with and the Ukrainians are taking casualties; the Ukrainians are not giving out any numbers on casualties but there is clearly concern as to the high number of casualties."

This is an excerpt from his latest interview with the ghost of Cardinal Richelieu.

“Your time as always is gratefully appreciated, Eminence,” I offered. “And since your time is constrained,” I added quickly, “please tell me what will happen in Ukraine, and then what will happen elsewhere in consequence.”

Said the Cardinal:

That is an utterly moronic question, for everything of importance that might happen to that miserable country has already happened. Did I not

Friday 27 May 2022

Fragile Empire

I am rereading Ben Judah's Fragile Empire (2013). It's very topical and I recommend it highly. This is a passage about the 2004 Kiev revolution.

"The protesters won as a million people flooded onto the streets. As Putin’s men fled humiliated, the Bush administration and those that dreamt of a European Union that can dominate over Moscow in former ‘fraternal republics’, which in Brussels had begun to be called ‘the shared neighbourhood’, were delighted. The Arabs were vomiting up the neo-conservative ‘Freedom Agenda’ but in Eastern Europe something that looked like the good old days of 1989 was under way. For a moment Ukraine forgot that it is as overshadowed by Russia as Mexico is by the USA and fantasized about being in NATO. London, Brussels and Washington indulged them.

"Moscow was aghast. Into this, the deepest of Russia’s historical wounds, the Americans were keen to push the NATO alliance. Ukrainians see this as their right as an independent country, but real horror gripped the Kremlin. ‘This was our 9/11,’ says Pavlovsky – or a moment Moscow realized its defences simply weren’t there. Rewinding back to 1991, when the intelligentsia clapped as Yeltsin cut loose the other SSRs, as the country as a whole shrugged off the independence of the Ukraine – because nobody wanted to pay to keep these people – there was an overriding conviction that it didn’t matter if they became independent. People thought, ‘They will just stay where they are.’ The foreign policy establishment thought an expensive empire would be converted into a cost-effective sphere of influence, not truly independent. Had Russians thought at the time that Ukrainians could join a NATO alliance led by George W. Bush they would have gone to war to stop it exiting the USSR.

"Not only did Putin’s foreign policy machine look completely kaput, but key figures in the establishment, the same men who were supposed to be keeping his regime afloat, failed as well. The outcome in Kiev was considered so vital that the Kremlin assigned its most experienced agents to the task. None other than Dmitry Medvedev..."

This passage about Boris Yeltsin in retirement is also interesting. I read that Vladimir Putin threatened to reveal Yeltsin's financial sins if he criticised his successor. That sounds likely.
"....[The former prime minister Mikhail] Kasyanov began visiting his old mentor, the ageing and ill Yeltsin, in his retirement dacha. It was a ‘golden cage’, which Yeltsin was certain was bugged:
" ‘He had a very high quality of life in the official state dacha, with official state cars. But he had bound himself not to criticize Putin. He was within a year extremely disappointed in him. He was completely against all the moves he was doing against the freedom of the press, to the parliament, to the governors, violating the constitution but pretending it had remained. This truly pained Yeltsin. He was extremely torn, morally and psychologically, by what Putin had become. And this inner torment I believe was one of the reasons that contributed to his death.’"

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Dr Kissinger at Davos yesterday was right, of course

"Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”

Saturday 21 May 2022

Bucharest morning


The new cathedral, next to the biggest building in Europe.

Antim monastery.

Cismigiu Park and the city hall, seen obliquely.

The Colțea church, 1695-8, a good example of Brâncovenesc architecture, a style unique to Wallachia.


Things I read

Scott Ritter, the American weapons inspector who told the world, before the US invasion, that there were no WMD in Iraq, has stopped thinking Russia will defeat Ukraine and now expects an endless proxy war.

'Yes, Russia is winning in the east which is what they said their objective was all along. And they are accomplishing that. That is the special Military Operation. But now we’re talking about “war”, and I don’t think Russia has made that transition yet. This is a defacto proxy war between the west and Russia using Ukrainian forces as NATO’s sword. The object of this is to “bleed Russia dry”. And if Russia doesn’t change the dynamic, Russia will be bled dry.” Zelensky has indicated that he’s willing to mobilize a million people, at a time when the west is ready to provide the funding and equipment to turn those million men into a real military threat.

'So, I see what has been happening in the last few weeks as being decisive.

'The military aid the west is providing is changing the dynamic and if Russia doesn’t find a way to address this meaningfully, and to eliminate it as a military capability… then the conflict will never end.' 

(“Saturday Morning Live with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern", You Tube)

"Middle-class socialists, according to Orwell, may speak for the workers. They may go in search of the workers. They may praise the workers. But secretly they dislike the workers for being working class, just as they dislike themselves for being middle class."

Robert Colville

Social scientists have identified at least three fundamental forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three. To see how, we must understand how social media changed over time, and especially in the years following 2009.
Jonathan Haidt in yesterday's Times.

'Instead of changing as usual at Charing Cross, I came straight on to Rio de Janeiro.' 

Alec Guinness at the very end of The Lavender Hill Mob. It reminds me of my life.

"Inflation is a regressive tax that most hurts the least affluent." 
Jeff Bezos. Is this true? It hurts most those with money in cash in a safe deposit box or under the bed.

"I have read somewhere or other, in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, I think, that history is philosophy teaching by examples." 

Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke. I might be wrong but I think this was in his maiden speech in the House of Commons. How much more stupid and ignorant English politicians are now than in Queen Anne's reign.

Paul Gottfried said that, unlike England, with its essentially mediaeval social structure, America was made by Protestant sectarians who neither had nor desired a mediaeval past and whose descendants have turned into celebrants of progress, commerce and human rights. I don't want England or Europe to lose touch with their medieval past.

Everyone wants to be a blowhard about both sides of the abortion issue but nobody wants to talk about how people don't know how to make personal connection without sex and yet are all desperate for deeper connection bc of how f-ing isolated we are.
Melody Arayi

Thursday 19 May 2022

The Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

The church is not far from the bottom of Calea Victoriei, south of the river. I took the picture around 7 tonight in the lovely evening light. Late 17th century and spared demolition in the 1980s. The beautiful mural and roof painting are from the 1920s.


Lee Marvin - One of the good things about getting older is that you find you're more interesting than most of the people you meet.

Seen somewhere on Facebook out of the corner of my eye, four years ago. "Dan Hannan is a self-confessed liberal. I asked him the direct question - can the Anglosphere exist without Anglos in it? In perfect LIBERAL form, he replied that (paraphrasing) the Anglosphere was a concept; a set of values. He declared that the centre of the Anglosphere was India. He took great exception to my question - he was not happy."

The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her, and love of her is the keeping of her laws,
and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality.
Book of Wisdom, 6:17-18


George W. Bush, speaking in Dallas yesterday, described the invasion of Iraq as "brutal" and "unjustified" before correcting himself to say he meant to refer to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

What a void she will leave when we lose her

Queen Elizabeth II opened the Elizabeth underground line at Paddington Station in London, the day before yesterday.

How lucky England is not to be a republic. 

King Edgar was the first king of England. He was rowed down the River Dee in a barge in 993 by four English kings, the King of Scotland and the King of Strathclyde, to show their allegiance to him.

I'd love it if Boris, Nicola Sturgeon, the socialist Welsh First Minister and the Sinn/Fein IRA leader of Northern Ireland were to row her galley.

Taxi driver

I asked the taxi driver who drove me home last night what he thought about Ukraine. 

He said it was half the fault of Russia and half the fault of the Americans. 

My reply was that it was 100% the fault of Putin and 50% the fault of Biden.

Is my maths at fault?

My political analysis isn't far off.

He said it would never have happened had Trump still been in office and he is obviously right about that.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

More joy in heaven

During an interview to plug a book two weeks ago, Bill Gates, who has been a noisy Covid alarmist, said this of Covid. 

“We didn’t understand that it’s a fairly low fatality rate and that it’s a disease mainly in the elderly, kind of like flu is, although a bit different than that.”

James Delingpole asked in February:

"So what are we supposed to do, those of us who really have been fighting the Covid tyranny these last two years: we few, we happy few, who risked arrest on the early marches, who refused to wear face nappies, who stuck up for Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, who called out the dodgy PCR tests and the dangerous experimental mRNA therapy they ludicrously call ‘vaccines’, who recognised that the pandemic was a scam cooked up by Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci and the WHO to enrich Big Pharma, cull the populace and hasten the advent of Klaus ‘Anal’ Schwab’s The Great Reset? 

"Do we welcome all these slippery turncoats to our bosom like the Prodigal Son? Or do we let them rot in hell?"

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Putin is micromanaging his war

"We think Putin and Gerasimov are involved in tactical decision making at a level we would normally expect to be taken by a colonel or a brigadier,” the military source told the Guardian, referring to the war in the east of Ukraine. This augurs badly for Russia. Napoleon micromanaged but was a general of genius. Hitler probably lost the war because he delayed the attack on Moscow, against the advice of his generals.

Early morning thoughts about the Ukraine

I couldn't see the date of the Sky News Australia interview with Colonel Richard Kemp to which I linked, a couple of days ago, but in yesterday's Telegraph he has changed his tune and no longer dismisses the mainstream media war news as Ukrainian propaganda or at any rate thinks the Ukrainian army has beaten the Russians badly at Kharkhov.

'This was not Putin’s plan; indeed it wasn't even his backup plan. Once the attempts to take Kyiv failed, he wanted to continue assaults against Kharkiv while simultaneously attacking the Donbas. These two efforts were going to be the consolation prize. Yet he has now failed in the former and is behind schedule in the latter. And even if he continues to make steady progress in the Donbas, he will soon need reinforcements, and it is not clear where he will find them in sufficient time.

'Ukraine now has the opportunity to redeploy troops from the north of the country to fight in the east. Putin knows this and, it seems, has instructed Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko to deploy his own forces close to the border with Ukraine under the guise of military exercises. This directly threatens Kyiv and will have the effect of fixing Ukrainian troops in place for the time being. It is another sign that Russia is increasingly concerned about the balance of forces in Donbas.'

The clever people who thought the mainstream media had it wrong and Russian invasion is going to plan were mistaken, but if Russia decides to be much more brutal she may still defeat Ukraine or rather the Anglo-Americans and Ukraine. We don't know.

Patrick Cockburn, in the interview to which I linked, points out some of the contradictions in the received wisdom. Putin has gone mad but nevertheless won't use nuclear weapons, for example.

I wonder what would have happened had Biden and Boris sent a couple of battalions to Kiev before the invasion.

Had Putin not invaded in 2014 a pro-Russian Ukrainian government might have given him the things he wants. 

As Masha Gessen said, he is a good tactician but poor strategist, who doesn't think more than 6 weeks ahead.

A Cambridge don supposedly met Napoleon and said it was clear that he hadn't gone to Cambridge. Putin, who also didn't go to Cambridge, 
is certainly no Napoleon, for which we should, I suppose, be thankful.

Monday 16 May 2022

Sunday morning

Divine liturgy at the tiny Greek Catholic cathedral of St Basil the Great in Str. Polona. Women don't cover their heads any more, despite St. Paul.

The area east of Boulevard Bratianu is actually more interesting and much more charming than the old town. It was built before Bucharest became the somewhat pompous Paris of the East, before Romania became an independent country.


Vaccines don't stop spread of Covid

Almost everyone in Portugal has been vaccinated and the country has one of the highest rates of Covid cases in the world. 

The jab doesn't stop you getting Covid, they say now, but it improves your chance of surviving it. So they say now but not 6 months ago, when Politico said “vaccination is the main determinant of whether a country can keep cases down". The number of deaths from Covid in Portugal and throughout Europe is now very low. 

As for herd immunity that doesn't seem to happen with Covid-19 unlike other infections. Because it was invented in a Chinese laboratory, perhaps. 

Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the son of Claud Cockburn, the British Communist journalist, whose saying "believe nothing until it has been officially denied" is widely quoted where journalism is taught (which of course it shouldn't be). The younger Cockburn is a left-winger who understands Syria, the Middle East and wars better than almost anyone. He is anti-American, which helps him to see clearly.

I recommend you listen to him in this discussion, in which he says, "There have been few wars in history based on as many misconceptions as this one......It's a big mistake." Putin had grievances "but not enough to justify an invasion, to my mind".

He is right when he says that the danger of a nuclear war is greater than in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s (partly because it was tiny then). Yet no-one seems concerned.  "To mention it is seen as almost an act of treachery", even in pacifist Germany. 

I largely agree with him

"I just want to see the universities closed down, except for Oxford and Cambridge. I think they have all been a terrible mistake." Philip Larkin

Sunday 15 May 2022

Col Richard Kemp: Russia will capture eastern Ukraine and the whole of the Ukrainian coast

Colonel Kemp thinks the British media mostly simply repeats Ukrainian propaganda and the Russians will probably take eastern Ukraine and the whole of the coast. Then France and Germany will force Ukraine to cut a deal.

"Oh let us never never doubt

What nobody is sure about."

The colonel hopes Putin will be removed and hopes 'we' are trying to ensure this happens. Have we learnt nothing from the last 22 years?

He is right when he says 'The US is Nato'.

He dislikes the Iran deal, worries about Iran getting the bomb, and thinks Iran in Syria is a danger to Israel. This makes me doubt his judgment.

I bet he'd like to overthrow the Syrian government too. I don't see that the West should care about Syria, which is a Russian satellite for more than 59 years and an ally of Iran. The Saudis are worse than Iran.

The Church of the Saints, (Biserica cu Sfinți), Calea Moșilor, 1728


Madness reigns

In individuals, insanity is relatively rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Saturday 14 May 2022

Professor Robert Tombs yesterday

"Britain’s newly active role is confirming the view of the Cambridge international relations specialist Professor Brendan Simms that Britain is Europe’s only genuine great power and one of the principal guarantors of its security – a view that not long ago seemed distinctly eccentric. Are we finally casting off the declinism that has handicapped Britain’s international role for half a century, and reduced it from being a leader to an acquiescent follower?

"To move boldly into the Baltic would have astonished Palmerston or Gladstone – no shrinking violets. The Navy did tentatively confront Russia in the Baltic during the Crimean War in 1854, and London was prepared to send a fleet to protect Copenhagen in 1864 in the unlikely event of the Germans attacking it. We gave an empty guarantee to Poland in 1939. But never have we ventured so far east in offering security as now."

I am sure we are right to aid Ukraine, as we went to the rescue of Kuwait in 1991, but this is a special case. I do not think British interests are in general involved in Europe. I do not think Russia is a threat to the United Kingdom or for that matter to the countries in the European Union. I'd prefer us to follow the foreign policy of Lord Salisbury, splendid isolation, rather than the policy which took us to war with Russia over the Crimea.


Lichtenberg said: "A book is like a mirror: if a monkey looks at it, he sees himself reflected, not an apostle. We have no words to speak to fools of wisdom. He is already wise who understands a wise man.”

Book of Wisdom, 7:24-25, 29-30:

For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness.

For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled thing fall into her.

For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it.

For after this cometh night: but vice shall not prevail against wisdom.

Friday 13 May 2022

Russia only understands force

That cartoon is from today's Times.

Nobody over dinner on Wednesday thought Biden was to blame for diplomatic ineptitude that led Russia to invade the Ukraine. Very different from a dinner I had a month ago when almost everybody, including two Anglo-Saxons who worked in Ukraine for years, was furious with him.

One of the two or three cleverest men I know said on Wednesday that Russia only understands force. I am sure this is right. It cuts both ways. Putin understood the colour revolutions, from Kiev 2004 onwards, as American force, which to some unknown extent they were.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Sweet, very warm evening, Calea Șerban Vodă.

May evening, Calea Șerban Vodă, walking home from Dr Andy Taylor's book launch, where I tossed and gored two professors who pontificated about climate change. I had completely forgotten how sweet this road is. It was 32 degrees Celsius today.

Illegal immigrants

Illegal immigrants are the only invasion threat.

The Russian soldiery are illegal immigrants in the Ukraine.

This beautiful May morning, Strada Schitu Magureanu



1. The kind Douglas Murray rightly rails against - hating your own culture and history
2. The conservative’s loathing of what the West has become that leads to thinking that if this is bad then Putin is good

Both are wrong. 2 is wrong because, in spite of the decadence of western culture there is still sufficient good residual in the ethos. The good still lingers in the consciousness. I think 2 is often embraced in order to achieve a kind of cognitive harmony. It’s a kind of over-simplifying moral maths.

Guy Walker

Name a single time in history when the group fighting to censor speech and ban books were the good guys. 

Kevin Sorbo

Taiwan wants to buy Abrams tanks and howitzers, which are of no use whatever in defense against a prospective mainland invasion, and is balking at US attempts to sell it "porcupine" weapons. As every pundit in the world has written, Taiwan is watching Ukraine closely and drawing lessons. But the lesson it appears to draw is that you won't have much of a country left after fighting a proxy war for the US.

David Goldman yesterday

'Still, so much more could be sent, and that is the priority of the growing Ukraine-victory lobby that stretches from the US to Finland, with notable outposts in Germany’s once-pacifist Green Party and in Downing Street. This loose but influential lobby holds that victory for Ukraine is a victory for Nato and the West, so defeat for Ukraine must mean their defeat as well. It follows that enough military support must reach Ukraine to allow it to expel Russia’s forces, including in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
'For this lobby, the greatest short-term threat is a ceasefire or, even worse, an armistice with Russian forces still in control of Ukrainian territory, providing a dangerous bargaining chip for Moscow. It sees a perilous contradiction between what satisfactory short and medium-term results look like for Ukraine, and what many Western leaders might accept to stop the violence, including allowing Russia to hold on to the territory it gained. It sees Ukraine losing the war unless it receives much more Western support, including heavy weapons with the requisite training. And it sees Nato’s role as ensuring Ukraine drives out all Russian troops, with the hope that Putin himself will be driven out of office.

'Unlike the victory lobby, I see the makings of a solidly satisfactory outcome in the present situation, so long as enough aid reaches Ukraine to keep up its strength — and that means reading the riot act to double-dealing Chancellor Olaf Scholz — while vigorously proposing a peace plan. After all, the two sides have already reached agreement on the broadest issues: Zelenskyy has already stated that Ukraine will not join Nato and the Russian side has already accepted Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.'

Edward Luttwak on 26 April

"Judge me in a year" said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s State Epidemiologist, in July 2020, when his country was being attacked for sticking to its pandemic plan rather than adopting the novel intervention of lockdown. The latest World Health Organisation figures add to the evidence that has been accumulating since summer 2021. Sweden managed the pandemic more successfully than most, with much less disruption of everyday life and economic activity.

Daily Telegraph

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, power, and grace in it.”

Goethe. Putin might think or might have thought this.

“Do what terrifies you. Everything else is boring.”


Tuesday 10 May 2022

Little Havana in the Little Paris. My favourite part of Bucharest, beside Piața Sfântul Gheorghe.


Old St George's

I lived 200 yards from the well known St George's New Church since the turn of the century but only recently discovered the nearby and well hidden Old Church, which predictably is newer than the New Church.

'Colourised' picture of British soldiers long ago, in a more innocent and less innocent age


The Răzvan Church. Originally built around 1597 of wood, rebuilt in stone in the 17th century.


Dusk Friday


Henry Kissinger at the weekend


Quotations from Henry Kissinger in an interview in yesterday's FT.

In principle, the [Sino-Russian] alliance is against vested interests, it’s now established. But it does not look to me as if it is an intrinsically permanent relationship. FT: I take it that it would be in America’s geopolitical interest to encourage more distance between Russia and China. Is this wrong? HK: The geopolitical situation globally will undergo significant changes after the Ukraine war is over. And it is not natural for China and Russia to have identical interests on all foreseeable problems. I don’t think we can generate possible disagreements but I think circumstances will. After the Ukraine war, Russia will have to reassess its relationship to Europe at a minimum and its general attitude towards Nato. I think it is unwise to take an adversarial position to two adversaries in a way that drives them together, and once we take aboard this principle in our relationships with Europe and in our internal discussions, I think history will provide opportunities in which we can apply the differential approach. That doesn’t mean that either of them will become intimate friends of the west, it only means that on specific issues as they arise we leave open the option of having a different approach. In the period ahead of us, we should not lump Russia and China together as an integral element. 


...I have met Putin as a student of international affairs about once a year for a period of maybe 15 years for purely academic strategic discussions. I thought his basic convictions were a kind of mystic faith in Russian history . . . and that he felt offended, in that sense, not by anything we did particularly at first, but by this huge gap that opened up with Europe and the east. He was offended and threatened because Russia was threatened by the absorption of this whole area into Nato. This does not excuse and I would not have predicted an attack of the magnitude of taking over a recognised country. I think he miscalculated the situation he faced internationally and he obviously miscalculated Russia’s capabilities to sustain such a major enterprise — and when the time for settlement comes all need to take that into consideration, that we are not going back to the previous relationship but to a position for Russia that will be different because of this — and not because we demand it but because they produced it. 


...I would suspect that any Chinese leader now would be reflecting on how to avoid getting into the situation in which Putin got himself into, and how to be in a position where in any crisis that might arise, they would not have a major part of the world turned against them. 


' Failure is not the only penalty for sloth. There is also the success of one's friends.'

Ruskin said he was a Tory of the old school, the school of Homer and Sir Walter Scott, but I think Scott overrated

Facebook tells me that I posted this 10 May 2016.

I'm not a conservative in the Thatcher Reagan sense, though I have come to see their good points, and very much am not an admirer of George W Bush. I'm a conservative after the school of Homer, Shakespeare and Dr Johnson. I side with the Tories against the American rebels in 1776 and detest Lincoln for fighting an unjust and unnecessary war. Two modern politicians I like are Lord Salisbury and Charles de Gaulle. Enoch Powell was prescient about everything which is one reason I'd like England to leave the E.U.

I didn't actually think we WOULD leave the European Union though. Tom Gallagher told me it wouldn't happen. "Don't we have any chance?" "Well, there's always a chance."

I posted these in 2011. I remember doing so but it seems like last week.

Women kept the Tories in power every time they won an election and I was astonished to discover that suddenly women have swing leftwards and prefer Labour. This has huge implications for social history - plus women now prefer to be given telephones rather than jewellery - what does it all mean?

I realised only now that Romania's intense religiosity is not an Orthodox or Balkan thing. Serbia, Bulgaria and Russia are much less religious. About Greece I don't know. Quite unconsciously it is one of the reasons why Romania is so much more more attractive a country than her neighbours.

Europeans are like elephants

'To me women are like elephants. I love elephants very much, but I don't want to have one.' 

I am quoting some Frenchman.

The net says attributes the same thought to W. C. Fields

'Women are like elephants. I like to look at 'em, but I wouldn't want to own one.'

To me Europeans are like elephants too. I love them very much but don't want to be one.

Sunday 8 May 2022

More thoughts on my last post, on Charles Moore and 3 former ambassadors

Lord Moore wants regime change in Moscow and so he hints does Sir Andrew Wood. So do I, but we should discard that idea and hope for a negotiated peace, but there will not be one until Russia makes big gains, which might happen soon or might not.

Regime change must wait until the Russians bring it about, or the old man dies. 

I have said for years in this blog that Putin is not a real threat to the UK or to the European Union countries, but he is now in a proxy war with America and the UK with the backing of the European Union.  

Does this make him a real threat to Europe, beyond Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova? 

I don't think so. Of course, he will not attack a NATO country - why on earth would he? - but I was wrong when I said he would not invade Ukraine. 

It certainly makes me hope for a durable peace as soon as possible, something Lord Moore does not want.

The big threats to the UK are not from Russia - while involving ourselves in Ukraine we have failed to get rid of the Northern Ireland protocol and now Sinn Fein are the largest party in Northern Ireland.

We should stop thinking of the USA and European Union as having the same interests as the UK.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Three British former ambassadors take very different views of the war in Ukraine.

Here Sir Andrew Wood former ambassador to Moscow, two days ago, Peter Ford formerly our man in Damascus here on 26 February, when he and everyone expected Putin to seize Kiev quickly, and Craig Murray, formerly our man in Tashkent here.

Here is Charles Moore today and he is right.

"Hitler took 35 days to conquer Poland. It has already taken Vladimir Putin more than twice as long not to conquer Ukraine. Actually, he has done worse: he started trying eight years ago when he annexed Crimea, and still hasn’t managed it. Even Putin’s Belarus puppet, Alexander Lukashenko, publicly noticed this week that the war has “dragged on”. Monday’s annual Victory Parade in Red Square will be a strange occasion. The 1945 victory commemorated contrasts uncomfortably with semi-defeat in 2022.

Waiter, waiter, perculator!


Coffee in the morning is the best part of life, to people like me who prefer the potential to the actual and the Platonic essence to the embodied. Eternal adolescents, I suppose.

Saturday morning strolling in the sweet May sunshine

This is the part of Bucharest that narrowly escaped destruction in the redevelopment inspired by Pyongyang.

Don't forget that Ceaușescu's planners destroyed less of Bucharest than planners destroyed ,London and other English cities in the twenty years before Mrs Thatcher. 

A lot of old churches were destroyed in the City of London before the war but the Communists particularly targeted them and destroyed many, though some were moved on wheels thanks to a very clever engineer. This one was lucky to survive, now hidden behind apartment block housing very grand nomenklatura.


"Wouldn't it be terrible if you'd spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't eat things, took lots of exercise, all the things you didn't want to do, and suddenly one day you were run over by a big red bus, and as the wheels were crunching into you you'd say 'Oh my God, I could have got so drunk last night!' That's the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you'll be run over by a big red bus."

Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother

I have mixed feelings about abortion but very clear views on #RoeVWade: Out of thin air, it outrageously & illegally created a constitutional right to abortion.
This issue must be fought out in the political arena, not preempted by be-robed dictators. Stop the activist justices.

Daniel Pipes

"It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement.
“If they don’t do it soon, there will be nothing left but death, destruction, and carnage. This is a war that never should have happened, but it did. The solution can never be as good as it would have been before the shooting started, but there is a solution, and it should be figured out now—not later—when everyone will be DEAD!”

Donald Trump

[He is right but Russia needs at this stage a victory at least in Donbass so will not negotiate in good faith. Does the American defence establishment prefer endless war to a negotiated peace? I think so.]

'Whitehall was horrified by Brexit’: an interview with Australia’s departing high commissioner

Australia's departing High Commissioner [ambassador] in London says, in an interview, that the British civil service detests Brexit and therefore tried to prevent a trade deal with Australia happening.

'I think the idea of the West is a kind of 20th-century notion. The idea of the “democratic world” is a much better way of capturing the fact that liberal democracies exist in the Indo-Pacific as well as in the Euro-Atlantic....

'Your institutions are extremely resilient; I’ve never seen institutions in a peaceful country tested like they were in 2018 and 2019 [over Brexit]. What I think is really important is that the narrative of decline has now been arrested. You broke th

‘Britain has all the opportunities. What it has lacked, because of 45 years of being cocooned within the EU, is the enterprising globalising culture to seize those opportunities beyond the Euro--Atlantic and to go into the Indo-Pacific.

‘I know Boris gets flayed sometimes for corny patriotism. But what I think he has done for the British people – particularly for working-class people – is to show them a leader who actually gets the concept of the possibility of British greatness. To change an inherited multi-generational, establishment-reinforced Whitehall-sanctioned culture takes a lot of doing. But that is what Britain is capable of and I think Johnson, for all his faults, has been able to at least kindle that.’

I remember the British press shamefully printed articles that worried that a trade deal would not protect British farmers, rather than hoping it would reduce food prices. So corrupting has our membership of the EEC/EC/EU been.

It is slightly worrying, much as I support Ukraine in this terrible war, that the upper echelon of the British civil service which is now very woke and hates Brexit loves the proxy war with Russia. It is part of a global elite that includes their counterparts in the USA, who struggled to undermine and get rid of Donald Trump, and in Italy that  got rid of Salvini.

"Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity"

"Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free." Pat Buchanan, speech to Christian Coalition, September 1993

Western culture was superior to other cultures before the Roman empire became Christian (which it did shortly after Armenia, Georgia and Ethiopia) and the Romans and Greeks did prize freedom for non slaves but human rights are largely a by-product of Christianity.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Dambovita and the new cathedral


This evening at 7, after three chaste lemonades on a terrace in the warmth of a sunny May evening by the Dambovita.

The cathedral on the horizon is being built slowly and looks beautiful. A rebuke to multiculturalism, as it is paid for partly from public money and partly from popular subscriptions. 

Next to it the Bolshevik behemoth which is the largest building in Europe. I feared the cathedral would be garish and horrible like the new one in Belgrade, but it seems not.

France might not have been a greater danger to England than Russia in 1982 but certainly has been since the Cold War ended

'A claim that Margaret Thatcher threatened to launch a nuclear attack on Buenos Aires unless France handed over information to disable Argentina's Exocet missiles in the Falklands War has resurfaced on the 40th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Sheffield.

'The Royal Navy ship sank six days after being hit by one of the French-made guided missiles on May 4, 1982, leading to the deaths of 20 crew members. A further 26 servicemen suffered injuries, including burns.

'The attack was the first British loss of life in the Falklands War, which took place after Argentine forces invaded the Falklands Islands, on the orders of dictatorial leader General Leopoldo Galtieri.

'According to a 2005 book by psychoanalyst Ali Magoudi, who met regularly with the French leader from 1982 to 1984, France's then president Francois Mitterrand was approached by Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for information that could disable the missiles.

'Mrs Thatcher was then said to have threatened to fire a nuclear warhead at Argentina's capital unless the information was handed over. Magoudi's claim was reported again by The Telegraph today.

'It comes after senior MPs last night called for an inquiry into whether France lied about the existence of a 'kill switch' in the Exocet missiles used by Argentina. In total, the weapons hit three Royal Navy ships, killing 46 sailors.

'The missiles allegedly contained technology to disarm them, but Mitterrand denied the feature existed.'

In the Cold War the French bomb was the deterrent. Nobody thought we or the Americans would incinerate the USSR, but everyone knew the French were bloddy-minded enough to do so.

I am fully in favour of England arming and helping the Ukraine, unless it looks as though a long war will develop which will destroy the country. But once this war is over I see no reason why the UK should continue to take much interest in defending the continent. Putin is not Stalin and as we can see now Stalin would not have marched into Western Europe.