Friday 30 September 2022


Why Charles III not Carolus III? It was Georgius VI.

Queen Elizabeth I's name was Elizabeth on her coins. Elizabeth is a Hebrew name and there is no Latin version. St Elizabeth was the mother of St John the Baptist. Eliza is not the Latin version, but simply a diminutive form of Elizabeth.

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Trump is a sort of genius

Something I posted as a comment in a Facebook thread today 6 years ago, the morning after the first the Clinton Trump debate and five weeks before the 2016 presidential election. 'I think Trump is a sort of genius. Not a 1st class mind, as we Cambridge men say, of course - nor was Napoleon. Though I don't think businessmen usually make good politicians. Berlusconi had his pluses and minuses. Joe Chamberlain is an exception - can't think of others. Neville was a bad businessman. At least his rubber farm went bust.'

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Edward Luttwak thinks we might be headed for another Seven Years War

 From his article in Unherd today.

'Putin started the war on February 24 with an ultra-modern, high-speed, paralysing coup de main based on the soundest principles of “hybrid warfare”. This works beautifully in war games, and is beloved by beribboned generals who have never fought patriotic Europeans in arms. Having expected, therefore, to take Kiev in one day, and all Ukraine in three or four (that was, of course, the forecast of the CIA, too), Putin discovered abruptly that he could not.

'Because Putin did not stop then, he cannot stop now. We might be headed for another Seven Years’ War. It did not seem like that when the Ukrainians counter-attacked in August, and Putin briefly considered retreating to Donetsk and Luhansk, as he signalled overtly. Then seven months after starting his Six Days’ War, Putin finally mobilised the trained reservists he needed on day one.'

Monday 26 September 2022

Italians throw out their government

The BBC does not like the new Italian government, even though the new Prime Minister will be a woman. Being disliked by the BBC is usually a good thing. It's almost necessary but not sufficient evidence that something is good.

This speech by the new Italian Prime Minister is very encouraging. She ends with a quotation by GK Chesterton, who has also been accused of being a fascist. 

'Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.'

He went on,

'We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face.'

I am not sure how Euro-sceptic the new government is or will be allowed to be. I suspect it will be as compliant to the EU and moderate on refugees as the True Finns and the Austrian Freedom Party. 

Let's see. 

The EU intends to rule Italy as when they imposed Mario Draghi as Prime Minister. 

A British Catholic girl handing out No badges in Dublin just before the referendum on legalising abortion told me that 'In Britain opposing abortion or single sex marriage is now considered far right'. It seems the French Prime Minister thinks even restricting abortion is extremist. Elisabeth Borne has said her country will be monitoring human rights in Italy under her new government and particularly access to abortion. The Frenchwoman said on TV:
“In Europe, we have certain values and, obviously, we will be vigilant....It is a human rights value and the respect of others, namely the right to have access to abortion, [that] should be upheld by all.”

David Quinn
Pressed on how exactly Giorgia Meloni is 'far-right' on today, the interviewee pointed to her support for (drum-roll)...the family of mother, father and child. On this basis, almost every party in Europe was 'far-right' until relatively recently.

BREAKING: following the election of fascist/hard-right dictator Mussolini, Pope Francis hastily moves the Vatican out of Rome. Its new site will be China, a place where he has many friends.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Patrick Cockburn: Russia and NATO Tried to Wage War on the Cheap in Ukraine, But Could Now be Heading for Total War


That's from an article by Patrick Cockburn, son of Claud, hidden by a paywall. He was one of the only two or three journalists I trusted on Syria. I liked him not only because he is an original thinker but because he is very left-wing, has no love for the USA and therefore is does not follow the Anglo-American  line.

How right he is that journalists mislead by seeing everything as white hats versus black hats. Vanessa Beeley is widely execrated but the stories she posts of Russian civilians killed by Ukrainian bombs are no doubt true.
From Mr Cockburn's article yesterday.
As a warlord Mr Putin has proved himself to be one of the great bunglers of history. He has not known what to do since he failed to

Zoomers and cultural revolution

In September 2016 I wrote: 
'People aged over 40 can save the planet if they act quickly, before the progressive young take over. Then all is doomed. Brexit is a start.'
Now the outlook looks much gloomier, to judge by this description of the generation that is starting at British universities now by Matt Goodwin, who predicts another cultural revolution.

Actually it is a further development of the same one which began in the 1960s. It began with American communists agitating over segregation and continued onward. Many of its leading figures were Marxist, but it is not classically Marxist.


'To be silent the whole day, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself.' Henry Miller

I don't know which curmudgeon wrote this, a couple of years ago.

Sunny Singh is not a parody account. She forms young minds.

'Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert.' Sir Roger Scruton

"'O, help me heaven,' she prayed, `to be decorative and to do right'." Ronald Firbank

Friday 23 September 2022

Dmitry Muratov, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winning Russian newspaper editor, talking to Reuters

"Ukraine will never forgive Russia......You may want to forgive everything, but you click in the search engine: Mariupol, Irpin or Bucha. And you can’t forgive a goddamn thing anymore. Every step of this war, every crime and every shot, every torn scrotum will now remain forever.”

From Diana Johnson’s latest article: The Spectre of Germany is Rising

'Russia’s defense of Donbass, wise or unwise, by no means indicates a Russian intention to invade other countries. This false alarm is the pretext for the remilitarization of Germany in alliance with the Anglo-Saxon powers against Russia.

'....But the real point of the Kosovo war was that it transformed NATO from a defensive into an aggressive alliance, ready to wage war anywhere, without U.N. mandate, on whatever pretext it chose.

'This lesson was clear to the Russians. After the Kosovo war, NATO could no longer credibly claim that it was a purely “defensive” alliance.

'As soon as Serbian President Milosevic, to save his country’s infrastructure from NATO destruction, agreed to allow NATO troops to enter Kosovo, the U.S. unceremoniously grabbed a huge swath territory to build the its first big U.S. military base in the Balkans. NATO troops are still there.'

Full article here. Actually, it seems to me, Germany is being forced to do America's bidding, but she is looking at the Ukraine war in the right way, as a struggle for power between Russia and America.

Peter Hitchens on the risk of nuclear war and Hitler analogies

I agree with Peter Hitchens on almost everything and disagreed with his late brother Christopher on most things. I thought Peter took sympathy for Putin too far but the invasion of Ukraine shows that his warnings about Russia's grievances and the risks of mishandling Russia were all too justified.

Like me, he thought Russia would not invade because she would be mad to do so. In this conversation with my namesake and the Spectator's Katie Balls he points out that he was right to think the Russian army was far too weak to conquer Ukraine.

He also talks about my favourite theme; the folly of analogies with Munich and 1938. Putin is not Hitler, nor were Nasser, Saddam, or people who don't like feminism.

Appeasement happens all the time, he rightly says. Of course, thankfully.

Anyway, appeasement at Munich 1938 was the right thing to do. I thought everyone agreed on that now. It bought Britain and France time. France, in any case, would never have gone to war for her ally Czechoslovakia, so why should Britain, which had no allies?

(Perhaps we’d be better off without allies now, but this is not the moment for me to persuade anyone of that.)

A better question is was Chamberlain right to guarantee Poland and go to war the next year?

This is the question that is most relevant to the present moment. The answer, with hindsight, must be no.

Had we ignored the German invasion of Belgium in 1914 and had Russia ignored the Hapsburg Emperor’s invasion of Serbia in 1914 how vastly better place the world would be. The Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires would probably still exist. No world wars, no Bolshevism, no fascism, no problems in the Middle East.

Peter Hitchens thinks the danger of nuclear war is greater than at any time in history. It's one of the two moments of greatest danger, comparable with the moment the Americans nearly caused a nuclear war over Cuba. Compare the American attitude to Cuba with the Russian attitude to Ukraine. I think it is very unlikely indeed but even a very small possibility is very serious indeed.

He also thinks the invasion happened because Putin is not rational. I do not think I’d go that far, though he is very paranoid, as all authoritarian leaders are.

All the Romanian taxi drivers I have spoken to, several at the weekend, think the blame for the war is evenly divided between Russia and America or in one case America's. 

Clever people usually side with Ukraine, though they sometimes point out that Ukraine is trying to suppress use of Romanian in schools in ethnic Romanian areas. 

Quite a few tell me they think America wanted this war. One clever friend told me, when Russia invaded, that America had given Putin a lose-lose choice. This observation, I see now, is true.

Thursday 22 September 2022


"No man is free who is not master of himself." Epictetus

"An unused talent is a theft." Nicolae Iorga

"Nina, we have become the sort of people our parents warned us about." Augustus John to his sister.

“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.”
Honoré de Balzac

"Life is not a journey, it's like a musical. The point isn't to arrive, but to dance and sing whilst the music plays." Alan Watts

"Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back." Donald Kingsbury

“If kids knew what they wanted to be at age eight, the world would be filled with cowboys and princesses. I wanted to be a pirate. Thank God nobody took me seriously and scheduled me for eye removal and peg leg surgery.” Bill Maher

"‘Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?’, you might ask." Hillary Clinton, September 20 2020 but she did not answer her question. Donald Trump said: "
Because she's terrible. Everything she touches is bad. Look at Libya"

"There are more beheadings and honour killings than there used to be but, on the plus side, there's a much wider range of cuisine". Douglas Murray, 2017

"In my opinion, the Ukraine war is not about the conflict between America and Russia, it is a war to destabilise and weaken Europe. The Ukraine only serves as a theatre of war. The plan is working. The first blow was caused by uncontrolled immigration from the Middle East. The death blow will be the shutdown of energy." Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, a few days ago. She thinks the Morgenthau Plan in 1945 to deindustrialise Germany is being revived. (People who believe in the Illuminati conspiracy theory, which I certainly DO NOT, think her family are one of the families which secretly rule the world.)

Former Romanian Foreign Minister Andrei Marga

Former Romanian Foreign Minister and head of the Romanian Cultural Institute Andrei Marga argued in Alba Iulia that there will be no peace in Europe until the United States, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and China reach some kind of agreement on the current conflict. He said Ukraine was “very far from democracy”, with parties banned, media controlled and many wealthy people leaving the country with lots of money. Bizarrely he thinks the Northern Bucovina should return to Romania even though nowadays only twenty percent of the population is Romanian. The Romanian Foreign Ministry was very embarrassed.

German Domestic Intelligence Is Running 100s Of Fake Right-Wing Extremist Social Media Accounts

Adolf Hitler while a soldier joined an extreme right party called the German National Socialist Party. I strongly suspect that he did so on orders from his superiors to infiltrate it. The rest is history.

Now the German extreme right online seems to be infiltrated by hundred of agents from various agencies.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

On the road from Biertan to Sibiu


Dawn yesterday on the night train from Budapest to Bucharest


Putin's mental state

Don't ask whether Putin is a psychopath like Stalin. See the war in Ukraine as a clash between American and Russian interests. All the psychology an historian needs to know is that all men desire power.

Monday 19 September 2022

For God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings

The glories of our blood and state

         Are shadows, not substantial things;

There is no armour against Fate;

         Death lays his icy hand on kings:

               Sceptre and Crown

               Must tumble down,

And in the dust be equal made

With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

A deeply kitsch Gaelic blessing

Coming home from work, I only caught the end of the multi-denominational service in Belfast for the Queen. It was beyond appalling. The four celebrants one, unsurprisingly alas, the primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, repeated one by one, lines from this prayer.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.


Deep peace of the flowing air to you.


Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.


Deep peace of the shining stars to you

It was written in 1978 and sounds like it. It's the sort of thing that makes me understand why people are atheists. 

Lucky for the late Queen that she is in a place where she does not have to listen to things like this, which she had to do many times, much as she preferred the Book of Common Prayer.

What awful changes happened in her reign, especially to the churches.

Awful things happened in Northern Ireland, where murderers now sit in government. She had to shake the hand of one, but did not remove her glove.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Monday 12 September 2022

Napoleon's observation in 1808 is relevant to the Ukrainian war now

"In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter."

What is the collective noun for Prime Ministers?


My favourite Harold Macmillan story is of when the Queen, Mrs. Thatcher and the five living former Prime Ministers had dinner at No. 10 in around 1986 to celebrate its 300th anniversary. As the photograph was being taken James Callaghan said: I wonder what is the collective noun for Prime Ministers. To which Lord Stockton, who was 91, instantly replied: a lack of principals.

The monarchy touches things that are very deep indeed

"Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic." Walter Bagehot


"You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger." Andrew Sullivan in Unherd today

I agree with Andrew Sullivan. 

One of the reasons why I love the Orthodox Church, incidentally, is that she predates and ignores the Enlightenment and this colours Romanian society, despite Communism and despite the European Union.

The Catholic Church seems to made peace with a lot of enlightenment and even some French revolutionary ideas, but then so has the British monarchy, of course.

Question from an American on Facebook

 “If racism wasn't a problem in the UK, why do you think this is the first time in 300 or so years since a person of color married into the British Royal Family?”


A senior policy advisor to the U.S. Helsinki Commission, a committee made up of members of Congress, says sanctions against Russia should remain until unconditional surrender, regime change, demilitarisation and the break up of Russia. I don't expect China, India or the Gulf states to agree.

Paul Massaro
Sanctions on Russia can only be lifted after demilitarization, decolonization, denuclearization, and deputinization


"We are Americans at puberty. We die French." Evelyn Waugh's diary, 18 July 1961

“In 1938, Czechoslovakia was betrayed. In 1939, Poland was saved. Less than one hundred thousand Czechs died during the war. Six and a half million Poles were killed. Which was better — to be a betrayed Czech or a saved Pole?” A.J.P Taylor in The Origins of the Second World War. Both countries, of course, were 'liberated' from Hitler by Stalin and the Marxists.

On V.E. Day the diarist Henry ('Chips') Channon, M.P. for Southend-on-Sea, threw a very grand party in his house in Belgrave Square. The guests included 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?’

Things that are VERY obvious to me but no-one else ever says, number 1.

 In a parliamentary democracy only MPs should elect party leaders.

Sunday 11 September 2022

Professor Sam Greene of King's College, London

This is a very interesting thread on Twitter from a professor who wrote a book about Vladimir Putin. I quote a small part:

...As recently as yesterday, the consensus in Western policy circles – among US, UK & EU experts & officials – was that while Russia was not winning this war, neither was Ukraine. It was hard to find anyone who believed that Ukraine could make significant territorial advances.

For two months or more, everyone has assumed this to be a war of attrition, rather than of position – and for good reason. The counter-offensive in the south was a slog, and reports were coming in of heavy casualties. Meanwhile, signs of fatigue in the West were mounting.

...In war – as in politics – what people believe will happen next can be more important than what has actually occurred, and those beliefs can turn on a dime. What's more, in violent conflict those beliefs are imbued with powerful emotions, which can submerge rational thought. 

It's tempting to say that yesterday's 'attrition' story was wrong and that this war will now be decided by Russia's ability to resist Ukraine's advances. But the attrition story was not wrong yesterday: it only became wrong today.

Peter Hitchens writing about the late Queen today

At her Coronation she was allowed behind the thick curtains which conceal the workings of Government from most of us, and saw with absolute clarity that Christian faith is the compact that makes our freedom and laws possible. Unless we believe that a higher power stands above us, we will in the end have either anarchy or tyranny.

What did the late Queen think of her Prime Ministers? Blair was her least favourite until Boris

The late Queen made one big mistake, I was reminded by Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times today.

The devious Harold Macmillan manipulated her, at an audience at his bedside in hospital an hour after he had resigned, to appoint Lord Home as his successor, whereas the cabinet wanted Rab Butler. 

This is the reason why the monarch's last remaining power, to choose the Prime Minister when the Tories were in office, was taken from her and why we recently had the absurd, divisive and time wasting elections by Conservative Party members of the Prime Minister. 

It's why Boris Johnson and Liz Truss became Prime Minister. 

Neither were the choice of the cabinet or backbench MPs.

The system by which someone emerged was in some ways better, but it would have meant Margaret Thatcher would have been unlikely to have become leader of the party and Prime Minister. 

Had she done so it would have meant she would not have been removed.