Friday, 24 March 2023


Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling:

It is no mere hypothesis that beyond the world of light there shines with a radiance unknown to us a world which no longer falls within the sphere of our intuition.

Lockdown was the biggest policy mistake in modern British history. Vast, incalculable damage to economy, education, mental health. Sweden, which didn’t terrorise or shut away its people, now has the LOWEST excess deaths in Europe. Game over.

Philip Weiss this week:

One of my saddest memories of the Iraq war was when I said to my friend the late John Homans, a very shrewd political editor, that I could not vote for Hillary Clinton because she had voted to authorize force, and he said, “You don’t understand, she had to vote for the war.” John was stating the political forces at work in the American establishment in 2002-2003. He was saying it was like being against Mom and apple pie, you just couldn’t be. NY congressman Jerry Nadler said the same thing when he related in 2015 how much “poison” and “demagoguery” had come down on him for voting against the war: “Suffice it to say I took a lot of criticism for my vote, and both my American patriotism and my commitment to Israel were questioned.”

Retired US Colonel Douglas Macgregor:

NATO is no longer truly a defensive alliance. It's become an offensive instrument in the hands of Washington.

I blame the Kremlin for all the lives lost in the fighting in Donetsk since 2014

David Patrikarakos in UnHerd:

'I first arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in April 2014, after local “separatists”, backed and coordinated by Russia, had seized the municipal building. Thugs in masks and baseball bats were hanging pro-Russia banners over the balcony and skulking in the central square. There were roughly 1,000 of them in this city of one million: strange for a place that I was repeatedly told was so pro-Russian.

'From there I moved onto Luhansk. I was inside its municipal building when a different gallery of thugs — this time armed with automatic weapons — announced the establishment of the separatist “People’s Republic of Luhansk”. Later, in the city of Sloviansk, where “protestors” seized the police station, I saw for the first time what I was certain were Russian troops: masked and without insignia. This was, I realised, now a front line. Ukraine no longer simply faced protests in the East; it was at war with Russia.'

The full, simplistic and rather annoying article is here

Paul Kenyon, who was there at the time, told me that 90 percent of the inhabitants of what became the Donbass 'republics' were indifferent to the revolution in Kiev but pro-Russians appeared with guns and scared them.

A senior British diplomat who knows the situation well told me the local people 'just want to be left alone'.

Russian monarchist and nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that he managed to create the 'republics' despite indifference from the inhabitants and the Kremlin. “I was to a large extent an independent figure,” he said.

Who is the pawn? America, Ukraine or both?

The Ukrainian war a terrible mess, a big problem for Putin and the Americans, but both would lose face if they don't seem to win.

When I said I want Ukraine to win, what does win mean? 

Realistically I imagine the best result she can get is a ceasefire that hardens into a permanent de facto settlement, the territory she holds at present and all importantly Odessa and access to the Black Sea.

Perhaps she could liberate more territory but at what cost in blood and (American) treasure? If things go the way senior British officials expect according to Tom McTugh in Unherd she could lose Odessa and her coast.

If America operating via Ukraine did force the Russians back to the borders of January last year I wonder whether this would be a Pyrrhic victory. I very much doubt it will happen - Russia has a vastly bigger army than Ukraine - and would if it did would it take years?

In 2014 I hoped America would not get dragged into fighting a proxy war on Ukraine's behalf. Obama wisely did not do so. He was also careful not to give Ukraine lethal weapons. 

Trump did, in order he said to provide jobs for American workers but also because the American media was full of the baseless theory that he was being blackmailed by the Kremlin. 

Putin's bungled special military operation made a proxy war inevitable. 

We now know that North Korea and North Vietnam were not Soviet pawns. Soviet Russia was manipulated by Kim and Ho into supporting their wars, wars which were as much nationalistic as Marxist. The Marxist-Leninists' biggest mistake, it is clear now, was to think the nation was false consciousness.

But is America a pawn of Zelensky or Ukraine a pawn of the war party in Washington DC or are America and Ukraine pawns of the neo-cons?

Obama said when Russia came to her ally the Syrian government's aid that this would be Russia's Vietnam. It wasn't but will Ukraine be another Vietnam for the Americans? 

No because American soldiers are not (as far as we are told) involved on the ground. 

Like South Vietnam's, Ukraine's cause is just. That's a similarity. A big difference is that Russia is not a Communist country theoretically intent on making the world Communist. 

Why then is America involved? Because she now sees her role as protecting the world order everywhere. That hubris will lead to a fall.

The transformation of Europe is a far bigger story than the war in Ukraine, but little discussed

 "The fact is that the people of Europe are losing their homelands, and therefore losing their place in the world. I don’t envisage the Tiber one day foaming with much blood, nor do I see it blushing as the voice of the muezzin sounds from the former cathedral of St. Peter. But the city through which the Tiber flows will one day cease to be Italian, and all the expectations of its former residents, whether political, social, cultural, or personal, will suffer a violent upheaval, with results every bit as interesting as those that Powell prophesied. " Sir Roger Scruton

“Bizarrely, as immigration began to change Europe at its economic and cultural core, the political vocabulary remained the same as when immigration had been a fringe phenomenon. People kept talking about restaurants.” Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

The real story is not Russia but the ascent of China

“The logic of events dictates we become a Chinese resource colony. Our servers will be from Huawei. We will be China’s major suppliers of everything. They will get gas from Power of Siberia. By the end of 2023 the yuan will be our main trade currency.”
Anonymous Russian quoted by Max Seddon in the FT today.

Trump: 'The greatest threat to Western civilisation today is not Russia. It's probably more than anything else ourselves'

Donald Trump, in a three and a half minute video he posted on Thursday. 

"Our foreign policy establishment keeps trying to pull the world into conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia based on the lie that Russia represents our greatest threat. But the greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia. It's probably more than anything else ourselves and some of the horrible, USA-hating people that represent us."

Saturday, 18 March 2023

How Wars Begin

I re-watched most of AJP Taylor's lectures on How Wars Begin recently and strongly recommend them. I am afraid I saw them when he first gave them in 1978, live without a timer or autocues, something that was absolutely antediluvian then. (I was very young.)

In brief, all the wars happened by mistake, pretty much on all sides except when Cavour or Bismarck were involved. Hitler was not nearly so brilliant as them. As Norman Stone said of the fall of France in 1940, "A Bismarck or a Churchill could control success of this order, a Hitler not".

The Franco-Prussian war in particular was completely unnecessary: an elephant trap, set by Bismarck against the wishes of  his master William I, into which Napoleon III walked. 

Some think Putin walked into a comparable American trap when he invaded Ukraine, but I do not. The State Department did not expect it till December 2021 nor expect Ukraine to withstand the invasion when it happened.

The lecture on the Second World War makes clear the extent to which America provoked Pearl Harbor. 

That is a partial analogy with US policy towards Ukraine from 2008 onwards. 

It does not justify Pearl Harbor or Putin's attempt to topple the Ukrainian government, of course, but may (help) explain both.

(By the way, US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, retired bootlegger, antisemite and father of John and Robert, said during a game of golf in 1945 with James Forrestal  that Neville Chamberlain told him that 'America and world Jews forced England into the war'If Chamberlain were right that would mean Roosevelt's administration helped bring about the war on both sides of the globe, a remarkable thing for an isolationist government. Did the Americans push England into the war? How? )

The prediction with which Taylor ends the last lecture, that nuclear war will happen, seemed to have been disproved by events till the Ukrainian war began. 

I do not believe Russia will use nuclear weapons, though the fact that the left does not worry about this is shocking, but nihilistic terrorists probably one day will.

Caragea, who placed Bucharest under quarantine 1813-14, during a plague that killed tens of thousands of people

I intended to write about the pandemic in Bucharest in 1813 and 1914, when the Phanariot voivode Ioan Vodă Caragea reigned, but did not. The story is here.

Closing tabs

I am closing tabs on my laptop. Here are some aides mémoire for me and links that may interest you.

Yet another article I want to read about the decline and fall of Western civilisation, this time by African-American Professor Glenn Loury.

An article about the Columbian philosopher Nicolas Gómez Dávila which I really must read. He is a terribly good aphorist, up there with Malcolm Muggeridge. 

James M. Patterson on Wokeness and the New Religious Establishment. It looked good. I realised that anti-discrimination can only be understood as a religion more than two years before I read it anywhere, just so you know.

A BBC documentary about Neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. I don't buy the attempt to use the Banderists as a justification for Russia's invasion, but I recommend watching it. I saw a lot of it.

A not madly interesting article by Justine Picardie about covert coats, which men in the City loved in 1985, as did the Marquess of Queensbury who wrote the rules of boxing and whose son slept with Oscar Wilde. Nigel Farage wears one always. I have come to love them too. They are formal and informal, good in town and country (as if I ever venture out of the centre of cities), Victorian but contemporary.

I think the author was at Cambridge in my time. She confuses velvet collared covert coats with the velvet collared camel overcoats that the spiv Arthur Daley (played by George Cole) in the 1980s TV series Minder wore. 

The article slightly has the faults of my Cambridge generation (moi?): glib, knowing and de haut en bas. But what a beautiful name she has.


“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” Oscar Wilde

“Before Pope Francis, it was by no means clear that the Church was really prepared to take climate science seriously. It is now clear that you cannot be a Christian and at the same time deny that climate change is an issue.” Ottmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, talking to Time magazine this week.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Ill fares the land to hast'ning ills a prey

The news from England.

·        The UK will avoid a recession this year, according to the OBR. It expects the economy to shrink by 0.2 per cent, not the 1.4 per cent it expected last November.

·        A major part of the upgrade is due to higher net migration, expected to settle at 245,000 a year, up from 205,000 the OBR predicted in November.

·        Migration will add 160,000 workers to the economy and 0.5 per cent to GDP growth by 2027.

·        A package of welfare reforms, including a childcare subsidy (for the under-twos) will add an estimated 110,000 people to the workforce (Box 2.2).

From a mail the Spectator sent me. 

In other words a Conservative government is trying to get young mothers back to work as quickly as possible rather than giving them incentives to stay at home and possibly have more children. 

Etymology of 'Having Kittens!'

I recently started to use the expression 'have kittens' quite often, as in 'his nieces would have kittens if they heard that'. 

I wondered about the origin of the phrase and what I discovered surprised me. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2023


".....and if you ask what wrong he has done in his life, you could say that he has done practically none, except that he has not done anything! He has sinned by not sinning. He has not lived. If you live you are forced to sin: if you eat, then others cannot have that food. We shut our eyes to the fact that thousands of animals are butchered so that we may live. To live is to commit murder, and the more intensely I live the more I do wrong. 

"Life is connected with guilt, and he, by not living, has not accumulated much active guilt, but he has accumulated a tremendous amount of passive guilt. Think of all the girls he has just walked out on. True, he

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

I can imagine Trump's views on Ukraine taking him back to the White House

Where do the leading contenders for the next US Republican Party presidential nomination stand on the Ukrainian war? 

Tucker Carlson has asked them and received interesting answers.

Trump and DeSantis agree on calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and in not wanting regime change in Russia. I completely agree. 

This could win Trump the next election.

Or DeSantis, I suppose. 

This was the first time the latter has commented on Ukraine.

DeSantis, one can't help but suspect, chose his position knowing that if he didn't Trump might sweep the board, in the primaries and in the general election. 

What happened to former Finnish Interior Minister Dr Päivi Räsänen

I posted in 2020 about the former Finnish Minister of the Interior who was questioned by the police in 2020 about a booklet she wrote in 2004 summarising Lutheran teaching on sexual morality, including homosexual acts. 

She has since been put on trail for hate speech and acquitted. The authorities have appealed the acquittal. She expects proceedings to continue for at least a year, perhaps a lot longer. 

Other writers will, no doubt, take note of what happened to her.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Damian Thompson: 'Ten terrible years of Pope Francis. The church has lost all its moral authority.'

The mainstream media, in the cant phrase, tell narratives. All is filtered through the prejudices of progressive, enlightened journalists.

You know that but it is most true when it comes to the reporting of the Catholic Church. 

Most journalists who are not Catholic (and many who are) hate the Church's teachings on sex and divorce. The non-Catholics often hate her opposition to abortion too. The media think the Pope is moving the Church their way, so his  shortcomings go completely unreported.

Whereas had the sainted Pope Benedict XVI been Pope and done the things his successor has done or failed to do, they would be front page news, very big scandals.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

The wisdom of cab drivers in Bucharest

I asked my taxi driver a few moments ago who was to blame for the Ukrainian war, Russia or America. America he said, without hesitation, because of their expansionism. 'Ukraine should be a tampon protecting Russia from Nato.' 

I don't take a lot of taxis these days. The cabbie on Christmas Eve strongly blamed America and said (in this he was certainly right) that had Trump still been President the war would not have happened. When I got to where I was going I knew the woman I was going to meet would agree. She smiled serenely but said nothing. Her two friends were furious with the taxi driver and started talking about Hitler. 

They spoke about Hitler not in the matter-of-fact way Romanians used to speak of the second world war but in the way Manichean terms Westerners do.

The drivers of the 6 or 7 taxis I took this year this year divided the blame between the Russia and America. One, a few nights ago, thought Russia was much more to blame. 

'Putin’s Suez moment: he’s watching his Central Asian empire drift away'

Another false quotation. Machiavelli did not advise that it is better to be feared than loved. He advised in Chapter XVII of The Prince that it is best to be both loved and feared but that when gratitude is dissolved by threats to survival fear is a more reliable way to inspire discipline than love. 

Vladimir Putin seems neither feared nor loved in the former Soviet Union, according to Mark Galeotti
The war is an accelerator. No epiphany for Putin, but defeat in Ukraine and decline elsewhere may help Russians begin reassessing their place in the world.
His article behind the Times paywall is here.

So far this war has been a humiliation and a disaster for Russia. We shall all pay a price for this even though Putin has blundered badly. 

RELIVING THE NIGHTMARE OF 1914: I think David Goldman's essay from a year ago has held up well

At the start of March 2022 a famous conservative-leaning American newspaper asked David Goldman (Spengler in Asia Times) for an opinion piece on Ukraine.

"I wrote the short essay below—and it was refused, because it doesn't fit the homogenized view that saturates the US media. We're in a world crisis, and our political leaders and major news outlets are pointing us towards the cliff."



World War I had no good guys and no winners. France rightly sought the return of the provinces Germany had annexed in 1870. Russia rightly feared that German influence would sever its industrial centers and tax base in the Western parts of it its empire; England feared that Germany would encroach on its overseas empire; Germany feared that Russia’s railroad system would overcome its advantage in mobility and firepower. None of them wanted a war, but each of them decided that it was better to fight in 1914 than fight later at a disadvantage.

An Irish friend wrote this about a visit to Wexford

Instead, walking down the Main Street, I was in the sort of artificial environment that a globalist gamer might have created on a computer. Hyper-stylised shopfronts offering pricier versions of the consumer zeitgeist were on every side, with the 'international' vibe being blatantly projected. While in every shop, it seemed the retailers were employing more skinny-suited gay guys than Ryanair.

However, contrasted with the Brightonesque, 'liberal Mecca' feel of the shops and hotels, every third doorway seemed to contain a Romanian beggar - comfortably seated with rug over their knees and cardboard sign placed in front of them, with 'I'm hungry' painted on it. But they certainly weren't lonely: groups of other Roma were standing casually conversing with them along the street, as if they were all engaged in some well-respected and venerable Wexford business that had been going on for generations. And indeed, I got the impression they were being made very welcome by the sort of people who now run the town.


"We had become, with the approach of night, once more aware of loneliness and time — those two companions without whom no journey can yield us anything." Lawrence Durrell

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants.” Thoreau

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Death wish

Here is a short clip of an American TV programme (broadcast yesterday, I think) in which Jane Fonda says that politicians who want to restrict or ban abortion need to be "murdered". Clearly she means it.

I wonder how many people said someone should kill Donald Trump? The BBC's beloved Sir David Attenborough did, but so did many other famous people and so did over 12,000 tweets in the 12 days after his inauguration

Novelist William Trevor's obituary said he never commented on politics except once, in a private conversation, when he remarked that somebody needed to kill Ian Paisley.

Innumerable people have called for the murder of Vladimir Putin.

Friday, 10 March 2023

The USSR was the first country to recognise the State of Israel, but the US acknowledged the Jewish government de facto three days earlier

It looks like the Arabs may be about to mutiny in the West Bank again.

American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is making an unannounced visit to Tel Aviv. He was reported on the news this morning, boasting that the USA was the first country to recognise Israel. 

This startled me. I always understood that the Soviet Union was. 

Googling, I find I was right but that it was a damn close run thing, as Wellington said of the Battle of Waterloo. 

America is aggressively meddling in the affairs of other nations

'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!' (Matthew 11:15)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly broadcast to the nation the night before last, thanked the Georgian protesters who rallied with Ukrainian flags late on March 8, expressing "sincere respect for Georgia" and said

"There is no such Ukrainian who would not wish success to our friendly Georgia… We want to be in the European Union - and we will. We want Georgia to be in the European Union, and I am sure: it will be."
It does look, even to the most innocent observer, reminiscent of the colour revolutions, intended to weaken and overthrow governments in the former USSR friendly to Moscow. 

I rejoiced at those revolutions, but now see them as part of a new Great Game, played by America in the place of England against Russia. 

Who cannot by now?

The colour revolutions provoked the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. 

This can't really be denied, can it?

Last month Samantha Power an American diplomat went unofficially to Hungary to talk to opposition leaders and NGOs to 'strengthen democratic institutions and civil society'. Even Hungary which is in Nato is not exempt from US interference. 

Nor have I forgotten Biden's interventions about Northern Ireland in British internal affairs.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Complete victory for Ukraine would be a Pyrrhic victory for America (but it is extremely unlikely to happen)

Srdja Trifkovic in "Chronicles" on 1 March:

"It is ironic that even if the current team in Washington is successful, at a huge risk, in forcing Russia to withdraw to its pre-2014 borders, and even if Ukraine is subsequently admitted into NATO, America will be significantly less secure than it was before the Maidan coup, let alone before Putin’s intervention. The U.S. would then have to assume responsibility for supporting and defending a bankrupt state with arguably the most corrupt political establishment in Europe. The U.S. would become the ultimate guarantor, in perpetuity, of Ukraine’s borders, which were arbitrarily drawn by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in 1922 and expanded with a stroke of Nikita Khrushchev’s pen in 1954. Those borders would be certain to remain disputed by an embittered, revanchist Russia—just as Germany’s eastern borders were strenuously disputed after Versailles, and probably with similar long-term results.

"This would be a Pyrrhic victory for America and a permanent distraction from the only global challenge she faces, 5,000 miles southeast of Moscow."

I suppose he means China is the challenge, though Beijing is less than 5,000 miles away from Moscow, but I don't see why China is any threat to American interests either.

Remember Truman expected to take American troops out of Europe after the war and kept them there because Stalin foolishly took over Eastern Europe far too soon for his own good. He reminded the Anglo-Americans of Hitler whom they had defeated at the price of 70 million lives.

Remember too that Baldwin and Chamberlain wanted to avoid Great Britain getting dragged into defending the 1919 settlement in Eastern Europe, on the ground that no British interests were at stake.

Now everyone thinks 'the West' has interests every where. Especially neo-cons for whom it is always 1938.

Hitlers are cropping up all the time. Everyone takes new cold wars for granted and nobody fears a nuclear war.

Instead of new Baldwins we have Churchill wannabes, like Boris Johnson, Hilary Clinton and so many others.

Why in fact does Nato still exist, since the Soviet threat no longer does?

Because Nato is now about values, which in practice means Anglo-American hegemony throughout the Eurasian land-mass.

This inevitably invites a reaction.

Instead of trying to rerun a mythical past that never really happened that way and anyway was tragic, Nato governments should work for a ceasefire soon in Ukraine, which hardens into a settlement that lasts.

It will only be temporary, says Robert Kaplan. 

Perhaps. Let's see. Why should a ceasefire help Russia more than the Ukraine?

Tuesday, 7 March 2023


Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican and protégé of John McCain) in July 2022:
“I like the structural path we’re on here. As long as we help Ukraine with the weapons they need and the economic support, they will fight to the last person.” US 

George Orwell: “To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.”

The best argument against Brexit may just be that the British state is genuinely incapable of running the country's affairs and has largely given up trying.

Xenophon, Anabasis 1.7.3 (Cyrus to the Greek soldiers; tr. H.G. Dakyns):
Liberty—it is a thing which, be well assured, I would choose in preference to all my other possessions, multiplied many times.

εὖ γὰρ ἴστε ὅτι τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἑλοίμην ἂν ἀντὶ ὧν ἔχω πάντων καὶ ἄλλων πολλαπλασίων.
Maurice W. Mather and Joseph William Hewitt ad loc.:
According to the Persian notion, Cyrus himself was the slave of the king [his brother Artaxerxes II] ... who alone, of all the Persians, was free.

Dominic Cummings on the Ukrainian war

This is a tweet from Dominic Cummings, who was Boris Johnson's Svengali and the best thing about his premiership. He has a first class mind.

Monday, 6 March 2023

Robert Kagan, the American neo-conservative, says the Ukrainian war was partly provoked by the USA


This is true, but he has not changed his neo-con spots.

Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland are famous American neo-conservatives, leading advocates of liberal interventionism. She is back in the State Department where she was when she chose the Prime Minister who came to power after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which she backed. 

Some blame her for the present war. Ron Paul does, for one.

From a recent interview with Robert Kagan in the Wall St Gazette.

Gerry Baker, Editor-at-large of the WSJ: We will continue to help Ukraine prosecute this war until, if we can imagine that, Russia is completely withdrawn from Ukrainian territory.

Sunday, 5 March 2023

'Fake professor dismissed from Oxford apologises for misogyny at fraudulent book launch'

This is an amusing story from Cherwell, the Oxford undergraduate newspaper for which Evelyn Waugh wrote. He'd have enjoyed this story. 

I note that in Oxford being classist is now a thought crime. How much the two ancient universities have changed since I was up.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Marcus Aurelius

“Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.”

“Your energy and time are both limited, so don’t waste them on what those inconsequential to your life are doing, thinking, and saying.”

Life and death

"But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds." 

Wisdom 3.1-9. I read it at my father's funeral.

Friday, 3 March 2023

"What a shame they can't both lose"

I feel like Kissinger on the Iraq Iran war.  "What a shame they can't both lose." 

I don't mean I want Ukraine to lose. I want Ukraine to win (very much) but I wish both Putin and Biden could lose. 

Behind Biden are the serried ranks of globalists.  They include Frau von der Leyden, Miss Anne Applebaum, the European Union, Boris Johnson, the Economist and the American press, Nato, the liberal internationalists. An American victory will strengthen them.

Thursday, 2 March 2023

The U.S.’s strategic objective in Ukraine is not to save Ukraine but to prevent Russia, China and Iran from winning

I am bored with people seeking to justify Putin's war. I am also bored by people who don't see that America and Zelensky provoked this dangerous man by their mistakes. Quelle ennui.

This is my response to the people I know in Romania and abroad who back Russia in this war. 

Ukraine had nuclear weapons stationed on her soil in 1991 but not the codes to use them. She gave them to Russia in 1994 in return for an agreement signed in Budapest that prohibited Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine "except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations."

Putin reminds me of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Frederick the Great. As I said before, he reminds me of what Lord Macaulay said about Frederick.
"In order that he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.

Sunday, 26 February 2023

There is a bird whispering in the King's ear


Clever - but it should be Carolus III not Charles III. 

Saturday, 25 February 2023

At last some solid information about how Putin planned to invade Ukraine and what he expected to happen

A very interesting article in the FT confirms what we all assumed. A number of confidantes of President Vladimir Putin and former senior officials have told the FT that they are privately opposed to the war in Ukraine. I imagine that they all are. Like most wars, it is not just a crime but a blunder. 

It's the result of a series of terrible blunders by Vladimir Putin and by others. 

The Americans and Ukrainians also blundered very badly in the way they handled this dangerous man of blood. This does not reduce his personal responsibility for the war.

"It's really a unique war in world history, when all the elite is against it," said one former senior official to the FT.

Putin trusted only a tiny group with his plans for invasion. Even the  foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, only learnt about it hours before it happened.

'Later that day, several dozen oligarchs gathered at the Kremlin for a meeting arranged only the day before, aware that the invasion would trigger western sanctions that could destroy their empires. “Everyone was completely losing it,” says a person who attended the event. While they waited, one of the oligarchs spied Lavrov exiting another meeting and pressed him for an explanation about why Putin had decided to invade. Lavrov had no answer: the officials he was there to see in the Kremlin had known less about it than he did. Stunned, the oligarch asked Lavrov how Putin could have planned such an enormous invasion in such a tiny circle — so much so that most of the senior officials at the Kremlin, Russia’s economic cabinet and its business elite had not believed it was even possible. “He has three advisers,” Lavrov replied, according to the oligarch. “Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.” Under Putin’s invasion plan, Russia’s troops were to seize Kyiv within a matter of days in a brilliant, comparatively bloodless blitzkrieg. Instead, the war has proved to be a quagmire of historic proportions for Russia.

'“....The idea was never for hundreds of thousands of people to die. It’s all gone horribly wrong,” a former senior Russian official says. With the

Friday, 24 February 2023

Arundel castle is so ugly it makes your ears bleed

Being a duke does not mean you have good taste. Being a dustman does not mean you don't.

I spent two nights in Arundel last August and intended to blog about it but didn't. The town is sweet, Catholic, Tory and Surteesian, though very touristy (British middle aged tourists and the racing crowd). The parish church, divided between Protestants and Catholics, is wonderful. The Catholic Cathedral is charming, though a 19th century imitation of a 14th century French town church out of place in Sussex. 

Hitler's alliance with Mussolini

Albert Speer recalled after the war that President von Hindenburg asked Adolf Hitler never to enter into an alliance with Italy. 

The old man was right, of course. The alliance with Italy cost the Germans dear. Having to intervene to rescue the Italians after they invaded Greece delayed the invasion of the USSR and may have lost Germany the war.

Italy soon came to regret going to war with the Allies in 1940 (taking Nice and Savoy was the motive). 

Mussolini ended up dismissed in 1943 and shot in 1945. Had he remained non-belligerent he'd probably have been in power till his death, like Franco, and Italy would have been spared a calamitous invasion. 

(Fascists would add that she would have been spared Americanisation, but Italy has not really been Americanised.)

For Romania the consequences of Italian entry into the war were as calamitous. Had Italy stayed out, England and America might well have invaded the continent via the Balkans (Yugoslavia, to be exact) and Romania and Bulgaria might have been spared Communism.

Hitler up to 1937 wanted England as an ally, but that was impossible because of ideological differences, on England's side, and because (according to Richard Overy) we were not prepared to give Germany a free hand in the east. 

Baldwin in 1936, on the other hand, was in favour of letting Germany attack the Soviet union and so was his successor Neville Chamberlain. Somehow this was lost sight of and Chamberlain ended up committed to Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania. 

To use an analogy from the game of rugby, Chamberlain and the Foreign Secretary the Earl of Halifax fumbled the ball.

Hitler also hoped up to 31 March 1939, when England gave her fateful guarantee to Poland, for an alliance with Poland. That, surprisingly, would have made sense. Had it happened the German and Polish armies might have marched in a victory parade in Moscow. Instead, both countries were devastated.  

Germany would have invaded the Soviet Union at some point in any likely scenario, so long as Hitler remained in power.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023


"Nur das Beispiel führt zum Licht;
vieles Reden thut es nicht."

"Don't seek rules too much.
Only the example leads to the light;
Much talk does not do it."
Anonymous. The epigraph of Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (1905), quoted by Laudator Temporis Acti

"Most men are convinced that the nations around us have made their sudden incursions against our borders, these wild unexpected inroads, for the first time in our day, but I myself hold a different view. I believe the house is doomed when the mortar that binds its bricks together becomes loose, and, although the start of the trouble passed unnoticed by the majority, there is no doubt that it developed and gathered strength from that first cause. In fact, the gathering of the clouds in those days presaged the mighty deluge we are suffering today."