Trish delivers

I don’t mean Theresa May now works for a takeaway pizza place. No, Trish (as I still call her years after we… well, a gentleman shouldn’t mention such things), has delivered on her promise to trigger Article 50.

I immediately went to see her to offer profuse congratulations. “Well done, Trish,” I said. “Now we’ll definitely come to the defence of those Etonians if they’re attacked.”

“Alex, you blithering crypto-Russkie idiot,” replied Trish, not bothering to conceal the slightly naughty affection she still feels for yours truly.

“You clinically retarded nincompoop twat. You got it all wrong. First, it’s Estonians, not Etonians. Second, you’re thinking of Article 5 of the NATO Charter. What I’ve delivered was the letter triggering Article 50, telling the EU we’re leaving.”

“Beats delivering pizza,” I quipped in my customary nonchalant manner.

“Could you spare me your puerile, immature so-called humour?” said Trish with a half-smile that brought back the memories of… Well, being a gentleman, I can’t tell you.

The question was rhetorical, so I didn’t bother to answer. Instead I asked, “So does this mean we won’t defend those Estonians if they’re attacked?”

“Alex, you geographically challenged ignoramus,” explained Trish. “Just look on the map, where Estonia is and where we are. You can’t possibly expect us to die defending a faraway land about which we know nothing.”

The ghost of Neville Chamberlain came wafting into the room, but I chased it away. “No, of course not, Trish,” I said. “How silly of me to think that you’ll comply with the NATO Charter. But at least now we’ll stop all those immigrants flooding in…”

“Not so fast, Alex,” smiled Trish. “But then you always were quick on the trigger, as I recall. The pizza… I mean the letter I delivered says we start withdrawing from the EU. And when you do it right, withdrawal takes a long time, if you catch my drift.”

“How long?” I wanted to know.

“Well, longer than two seconds, if you catch my drift,” smiled Trish. “Longer even than two years. The short answer is, I don’t have a clue. May take a while. Get it? May take a while? As in Theresa?”

“Righty-ho,” I said. “But then we’ll stop those hordes of immigrants…”

“First, they aren’t hordes,” objected Trish with her customary firmness. “They are individual human persons endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”

I had to chase another ghost away, this time of Thomas Jefferson, before replying, “So we aren’t going to stop them coming?”

“Not everything is black and white, you daft simpleton,” explained Trish. “We’ll have to be subtle about it.

“We’ll keep the free movement and tell the EU about it – truthfully. But then we’ll tell the British people that we’ll respect our borders – also truthfully. Respect and control are different things, if you catch my drift.”

“I get it,” I said. “We’ll announce that we respect our borders and keep them open.”

“You got it in one,” smiled Trish with loving indulgence.

“Well, at least we’ll repeal EU laws and revert to our tried and true Common Law,” I offered.

“Er… yes and no. We’ll repeal the European Communities Act that gives effect to EU law in Britain. But then we’ll take all the same EU laws and declare that henceforth they’re English. Get it? We’ll naturalise EU law.”

“I get it. We’ll continue to obey EU laws while calling them English. It’s like pasting a cheddar label on brie and then scoffing it.”

“See, even someone like you can understand it,” said Trish, who has always admired my ability to get my head around the most recondite problems.

“Thanks, Trish,” I said, accepting the accolade in the spirit in which it had been offered. “And I take it we’ll stop paying billions into EU coffers now.”

“Wherever have you heard such an asinine thing, Alex?” asked Trish with her usual unquenchable inquisitiveness. “Must’ve been at the place where you asinine halfwits congregate.

“Of course we’ll continue to pay. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.”

“And that means continuing to give them money?”

“Just that. First there will be a down payment, say 50 billion or so, then the rest in annual instalments. It’s all about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy with the European Union once we leave. A partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation.”

“So we’ll join the EU army too, once it’s formed?”

“Don’t see why not,” agreed Trish. “Last I looked we’re in Europe. So why shouldn’t we have one army for all? We’ll be stronger that way. God is on the side of the large battalions,” said Trish, gently waving the ghost of Napoleon away.

Suddenly everything clicked into place. “I say,” I said. “Thanks for making it crystal clear, Trish. I now know what Brexit means.

“We’ll leave the EU at some unspecified time in the future, two, three, ten years, whatever it takes. But even when it happens, we’ll only have respect for our borders, not control over them. We’ll still be governed by their laws, now called English for propriety’s sake. We’ll still be paying billions to the EU. And we may even join the EU army under the command of a Belgian general.

“Have I got that right?”

“You have, Alex, you imbecile dullard,” said Trish with the seductive smile she always reserves for yours truly. “Plus ça change, as François says. I knew even chaps like you would catch my drift.”

Pénélope and Penelope

François Fillon’s wife Pénélope has been charged with fraud for doing for him what my wife Penelope does for me.

She looked after her husband’s affairs, opened his mail, drafted replies, stood in for him at parties he either couldn’t attend or didn’t want to.

This is where the similarity ends. Penelope is English, while Pénélope most emphatically isn’t, though the French press routinely refers to her as such. She’s Welsh, and trust the French to be deaf to such vital distinctions.

The Welsh serve as the butt of English jokes, which answers the question once posed in jest by quiz show hostess Anne Robinson: “Why do we need the Welsh? What are they for?” Much of the mockery is aimed at their language that sounds as if it’s all sibilants and no vowels. It’s certainly written that way. The Welsh also chose as their national symbol that most unprepossessing of all vegetables, the leek.

The important difference is that I’m in no position to make the state pay Penelope for her help, whereas François did just that for Pénélope. This raises all sorts of interesting moral dilemmas.

Can we monetise the domestic service provided by a wife to a husband? I’ve seen all sorts of calculations to the effect that, for a wife to improve the family’s fortunes by going off to work and outsourcing domestic services, she’d have to make over £50,000 a year.

I don’t know how that sum is calculated, and whether, say, sex is included. After all, if a man had to seek solace on the side, he’d have to have either amateur or professional mistresses, and both cost, especially the former.

But excising the naughty rubric and accepting that calculation as a base, Pénélope got paid considerably more than €60,000 a year (today’s derisory equivalent of £50,000) for being parliamentary assistant to her husband. This, though she hardly ever went anywhere near Luxembourg Palace and only did for François what Penelope does for me, free of charge.

There’s also the small matter of the €100,000 Pénélope received for writing two articles in Revue des Deux Mondes, a magazine owed by François’s friend and donor.

Even assuming that Pénélope’s literary gifts are much superior to my own, that kind of fee makes me turn green with envy: the most I ever received for an article was 600 quid. Then again, the Fillons’ detractors may have a point when saying that the sum represented not so much a fee as a donation in disguise.

Immoral? Corrupt? Probably. But do let’s put it all in context.

Different groups have different feelings about various transgressions. If, for example, an Englishman or even a Frenchman dined on a friend’s leg, we’d recoil in horror and scream about throwing away the key. However, in a cannibal tribe such a culinary practice might only elicit a request for the recipe.

Extrapolating from this reductio ad absurdum, things like sex scandals are viewed differently in England and France. Being caught in flagrante delicto could derail the career of an English politician, while for his French colleague it might provide a boost – as long as he doesn’t look ridiculous, as Hollande did with his motorcycle helmet.

The same goes for fiscal corruption. An English politician may be fundamentally corrupt in his approach to his duties (Dave Cameron, ring your office). However, for as along as this corruption remains intellectual and moral, he’s on safe grounds. But a whiff of the odd backhander, and the safe grounds turn into a minefield.

Now, from what I’ve seen, the French attitude to the corruption that really matters in a politician is as lackadaisical as ours. But their attitude to fiscal corruption is much more so. The French tend to shrug their shoulders in that inimitable Gallic manner and say something like “of course, my friend, the whole world does it, but no?”

However, from time to time a fiscal scandal does break out, with some sticky-palmed politico singled out pour encourager les autres. Given the generally permissive atmosphere, a suspicion always lingers that the poor sod was picked on for reasons other than moral indignation.

This isn’t a far cry from Putin’s kleptofascist regime, where a public figure is only ever charged with corruption for political reasons, of which falling out with Putin is the most frequent. The difference is that in France the accused is seldom ‘whacked’, at least not since Mitterand’s tenure, but we aren’t into details here.

Hence François and Pénélope fight back, claiming that the chat was let out of the sac by those trying to scupper François’s presidential campaign. They’re even prepared to hint at the culprit by saying that his Christian name is the same as M. Fillon’s.

Since neither Hollande nor his party is likely to benefit electorally from besmirching the Fillons’ reputation, perhaps the finger ought to be pointed in a different direction, but that’s not the point. The point is that in all probability the charges against Pénélope are indeed politically motivated. The cui bono principle would suggest it was Macron who was the instigator, but one never knows.

How would I vote in the French election if I could? It’s when this question comes up that I’m happy I don’t live in France full-time. The choice is between a fascist openly financed by Putin, a right-of centre chap who seems to like the British (especially the Welsh) but has also taken Putin’s rouble, and a left-of-centre chap who may dislike Putin but definitely hates the British.

The other two being totally unsavoury, I suppose I’d have to vote Fillon, if only because our wives are namesakes. But a note to my French friends: Pénélope and Penelope are pronounced differently.

I have faith in Russia

Whenever I write about yet another peccadillo perpetrated by Vlad and his jolly friends, be that a ‘whacking’, money laundering or shooting down an airliner, there’s always one blithering… well, person accusing me of hating Russia.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I have every faith in Russia, especially now that it’s in the safe hands of its ruling KGB dynasty.

I’m even prepared to accept, pain in heart, that Russia and Putin are co-extensive, as once explained by Vlad’s deputy chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin: “There is no Russia if there is no Putin”.

This analysis is painful because Vlad is only immortal in heaven but, alas, not in earth. Since he’s now 64 – a muscular, bare-chested 64, but still – presumably his demise can’t be further than 2-3 decades away, so Russia isn’t long for this world.

But I’m sure Volodin didn’t mean it literally. He merely expressed a boundless faith in the KGB dynasty and a certainty that it’s leading Russia in the right direction. I share both the faith and the certainty. I’m even prepared to go out on a limb and put an approximate timeframe (ATF) on each imminent improvement.

I believe that one day the Russians will learn to put money in the bank without laundering it first.

As it is, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project details 70,000 laundering transactions, with 1,920 involving UK banks.

As Her Majesty’s subject, I deplore the contempt thereby shown for the City. Just 2.5 per cent? Surely we deserve more. What does Panama have that we don’t have?

However, I’m partly reassured by the amounts involved. It’s estimated that £100 billion is laundered through London every year. Now maths isn’t my forte, but if we handle 2.5 per cent of all such transactions worldwide, and if the same ratio of amounts to transactions holds globally, then the overall amount…

Well, I can’t count that high. Yet one can understand why leading economists believe that summary withdrawal of Russian offshore assets could precipitate a global financial crisis from hell.

Anyway, that isn’t an issue because Russia is well on her way to fiscal probity. ATF: 200 years.

And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to feed themselves.

As it is, almost half of the food enjoyed by the Russians comes from abroad.

Over the past 20 years, the number of people employed in agriculture has declined 5-fold. Of the original 67,000 villages, 20,000 have disappeared. The remainder are mostly populated by old people patiently awaiting death.

The country has reverted to barter agriculture, with manual labour predominant. Agricultural productivity in Russia is eight times lower than in the EU. Small private holdings produce 50 per cent of all meat and milk, and 90 per cent of all vegetables.

But all that is going to change. Russia will again become one of the world’s top food exporters, as she was before 1917, rather than one of the top importers, as she is now. ATF: 100 years.

And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to make internationally competitive products designed to help people rather than kill them.

The Russians are about to deploy the new Mach 5 Zircon missile, which, according to our experts, is too fast for our defences to intercept. This is one of the many weapon systems coming on stream at a pace suggesting a thriving manufacturing sector.

Alas, this only suggests where the Russians’ priorities lie, and why almost half of their budget is spent on ‘defence’. Americans spend more in absolute terms, but their GDP is almost 10 times higher, and a great deal of their defence spending goes on personnel salaries and pensions – a rubric hardly overstressed in the Russian budget.

Other than that, over the past 20 years Russia’s manufacturing capacity has shrunk by two-thirds. What it does produce makes Russians laugh sardonically.

As a small example, their motor trade can’t even make a government limousine worthy of the name. Vlad has to imitate African dictators and make do with a Mercedes. As to the domestic goods usable by poor mortals, Russians mock them mercilessly. No self-respecting Russian will use anything made in Russia, and most essentials (such as tampons) aren’t made there at all.

All this will change in short order. ATF: 250 years.

And I believe that one day the Russians will live as well and as free as, well, Romanians.

In a recent poll, Russia comes in at 51 out of 56 countries rated for quality of life, behind Pakistan and Egypt. But then true Russians disdain soulless materialism (until they come to the West, that is, where they’re seduced into it while still clearing passport control).

According to Russian data, 28 million live under the poverty level of $175 a month and qualified medical care is available only for the rich.

To compensate, Russia comfortably leads Europe in killing. According to UN data, 70 per cent of all murders on Europe’s territory are committed in Russia, home to only 19 per cent of Europeans. The country’s murder rate is 20 times higher than in Norway, which makes one wonder if perhaps soulless materialism isn’t without its benefits.

Nor does the country do noticeably better in metaphysical categories. In the Freedom House rating, Russia stands at 181 out of the world’s 199 countries in freedom of the press, below Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Burundi and Chad.

At 195 out of 198 countries in the corruption rating, Russia finds herself in a similar neighbourhood, next to Sudan and Burma.

The country’s democracy rating of 129 puts her below Saudi Arabia, that famous bastion of pluralism, but – and here one must doff one’s hat – just a whisker above Somalia.

But I’m sure that under the guidance of the KGB dynasty all this will change, soon. ATF: 300 years, roughly the lifespan of the Romanov dynasty.

And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to regard adjacent countries as neighbours rather than prey.

Here one regretfully has to be more pessimistic. After all, Russia can’t fall back on a rich heritage of neighbourly friendliness. She began to attack the West the moment she became, well, Russia under Ivan IV. That fine tradition has ebbed and flowed without ever petering out – as I’m sure it will. ATF: 500 years.

These Martin Luther King cadences prove that, rather than being the cynical Russophobe I’m alleged to be by those blithering… well, detractors, I’m an incurably credulous romantic. Well done, Vlad. I’m proud of you.

It’s not Islam, it’s weed

I’ve always thought that Peter Hitchens is only bonkers on the subject of Russia, while his other commentary is usually sound.

But his analysis of the root cause of Islamic terrorism shows he isn’t willing to content himself with just one mania. Now his other hobby horse, marijuana, has bucked violently and thrown him off.

“First,” he writes, “we have absolutely no evidence that the Westminster murders originated with Islamic State.” True. However, Islamic terrorism doesn’t have to originate with Islamic State to be Islamic. It may simply be inspired by Islam. Nor is ISIS the only Muslim terrorist group.

Islamic State didn’t exist in 2001, which didn’t prevent Muslims from flying large planes into tall buildings, nor in 2005, when Muslims blew up London buses and underground trains. In effect, Hitchens is repeating, if not in so many words, the inane statements uttered by Blair, Bush, Cameron and now May, who all deny any link between terrorism and Islam.

Then comes a contortionist pat on his own back: “As I have pointed out so many times before, many of these actions are committed by criminal misfits with long histories of theft, petty violence and drug abuse.”

We should thank Hitchens for this oft-repeated penetrating insight. Here we were, thinking that chaps who strap explosive belts to their bodies are all law-abiding, non-violent gentlemen who limit their intake of intoxicants to the odd sherry before supper.

Now we stand corrected: they’re misfits. However, why is it that it’s specifically Muslim misfits who do all those nasty things? A close friend of mine, a prison doctor, spent years working with criminal misfits who all abused drugs. However, according to him, they didn’t necessarily seek short-term employment as suicide bombers.

Hitchens doesn’t restrict himself to just one insight. He goes on to inform us that “cannabis is linked to long-term, lingering mental illness.” Yet authorities obsessed with the Islamic link to terrorism “are almost totally uninterested in the amazingly strong correlation between mind-altering drugs and crazed violence.”

This negligence is the fault of “sympathisers with drug legalisation” or “dogmatic neoconservatives” whose livelihood depends on “exaggerating the genuine but limited Islamist threat”. (Islamist, as opposed to Islamic, threat is indeed limited.)

Now I belong to neither of those pernicious groups. Yet one doesn’t have to be a neocon to observe that just about all current terrorist acts are committed by people who scream ‘Allahu akbar!’, not ‘Legalise weed!’. Some of those acts, such as 9/11, require the kind of meticulous planning that would be beyond drugged up zombies.

I happen to agree with Hitchens on the subject of drug legalisation, but not because the odd spliff makes a chap blow himself up on a crowded bus. The argument has to be more nuanced than he seems to be able to put together.

Mind-altering drugs aren’t immoral in se. Drug use in Britain was unrestricted until the 1868 Pharmacy Act and uncriminalised until the 1920 Dangerous Drugs Act, and one can’t seriously believe that what was moral in 1919 suddenly became a sin in 1920. The outer edge of the moral argument reaches only as far as malum prohibitum, which puts dropping acid into the same category as dropping a seat belt.

One is on equally shaky grounds with a utilitarian argument. Taken in moderation, drugs are no more objectionable than alcohol. Taken in excess, some drugs can indeed have undesirable social consequences, but anyone who has ever been attacked by a drunk will agree that weed isn’t unique in that respect.

Hitchens has the causality all wrong. People don’t blow themselves up because they smoke pot. They’re more likely to smoke pot to overcome the fear of blowing themselves up. Cannabis is the Muslim version of Dutch courage.

This isn’t the first time in history that drugs have been used that way. For example, the Viking berserks gave rise to a good English word by munching magic mushrooms before battle, the Saracens went on cannabis-fuelled suicide missions behind the Crusaders’ lines, and Soviet soldiers charged tanks with bayonets under the influence of ethanol.

Drugs have some bad effects, but one can’t build a rational argument on such a shaky foundation. There’s no proof that moderate use of drugs is harmful – and immoderate use of anything, from tap water to tofu, can kill you.

To sum up, the rational case against legalising drugs is weak, and bits of anecdotal evidence won’t make it stronger. A case does exist, but it’s cultural and existential.

Drug taking, whether it’s a joint passed around by youths sitting on the floor or a line of coke cut with a razor blade on a marble top, is a ritual. And any ritual is a semiotic system – not a philosophy but a way of communicating one.

So what do these rituals, as distinct from drugs qua drugs, communicate? Why, they transmit the signals of sex-drugs-and-rock‘n roll modernity, a disease even more communicative than bad taste. And in doing so, they reflect many other dynamics involved in the collapse of our civilisation.

A relativist, empiricist society preaches that absolute truth isn’t only unknowable but nonexistent, and one can discover puny half-truths by experimentation – so why not addle one’s brain with drugs?

A youth is taught that his own self is uniquely important – so why not give it a boost?

A self-indulgent girl grows up never having encountered real beauty, be that art or religion – so why not create a surrogate?

As their senses rival their minds for hopeless ignorance, the modern lot feel not happy but high, not sad but depressed – so why not use drugs? Unskilled in semantics, they have to use semiotics to scream defiance, to spit in the face of the moribund beauty they despise.

Drugs have not always had this hidden semiotic agenda. But semiotics change with age, and what was meat for Messrs Coleridge or Conan Doyle is poison for us.

Thus Hitchens’s campaign against legalisation is commendable. But his crazy attempts to link the unlinkable – cannabis and Islamic terrorism – make one wonder what he himself is on. I wouldn’t mind having some of it.

And speaking of terrorism…

Putin’s former ally, MP Denis Voronenkov, asked for it.

Throughout Vlad’s tenure, Denis has remained loyal, proving with his every vote that the Communist Party he represented was opposition in name only. He supported Vlad’s every bright idea, including aggression against Georgia, the theft of the Crimea and the de facto annexation of East Ukraine.

A good egg all around in other words, and appropriately rewarded: properties, fleets of luxury cars, a fair chunk of beautifully laundered Panamanian assets.

That means Voronenkov personified Russia’s indigenous government blend of organised crime and secret police. The first ingredient is demonstrated by Panamanian millions, the second by… well, Panamanian millions. Voronenkov wasn’t a full-time officer like Vlad, but no one could have jumped on that bandwagon without being hand in glove with the KGB/FSB.

And then things went wrong: Denis was charged with fraud. It’s important to realise that this charge could be justifiably levelled at every member of Russia’s government, her every billionaire and most millionaires. (The first group overlaps with the other two in its entirety.)

However, it’s never brought up for as long as the chap stays on Vlad’s right side. The fraud charge thus matters not so much in itself as in what it signifies: the loss of Vlad’s favour. And that crime trumps any other, including murder.

Punishment comes swiftly, ranging from judicial imprisonment to extrajudicial killing. There’s no mercy, no appeal, no tariff – Vlad is as likely to forgive disloyalty as a Mafia don would be to spare an associate about to testify.

I don’t know what the beef was between the two men, but it must have been something major. Voronenkov knew the score and didn’t sit around waiting to be ‘whacked’, in his former friend’s jargon.

Last October he and his wife upped sticks and slipped across the border to the Ukraine. There Voronenkov was immediately granted citizenship, promising in return to testify against the former president Yanukovych.

Seemingly out of Vlad’s reach, Voronenkov relaxed and began to taunt his former chieftain from afar. “What’s he going to do?” he tweeted. “Whack me in the middle of Kiev?” Well, yes, was Vlad’s answer and, as a competitive man myself, I know how hard it is not to take a direct challenge.

On Thursday Voronenkov was shot dead at the location specified, the middle of Kiev. His assassin was killed on the spot, so it was a nice, clean hit in the best traditions of Vlad’s alma mater.

I must give Vlad this: he’s a man of his word. He once said: “There’s enemies and there’s traitors. Enemies I can reason with; traitors I wipe out.” Even easier done than said.

This ‘wet job’ came in the wake of another one just two days earlier, when the lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov was defenestrated in Moscow.

The unfortunate jurist dared to represent the family of Sergei Magnitsky, Bill Browder’s lawyer beaten to death in prison, and Browder himself. Yet that transgression alone didn’t call for a mandatory death penalty – a cautionary beating would have sufficed.

But Gorokhov went further than that by agreeing to testify at a US trial of Russian money laundering. Now that’s a capital crime for sure, and the lawyer is fortunate to end up in a coma rather than a coffin.

Every window in Russia can be a window of opportunity: defenestration is a popular method of settling political and commercial disagreements.

Kommersant reporter Ivan Safronov was defenestrated in 2007 for exposing Russia’s secret supplies of arms to Iran and Syria. Financier Sergei Korobeinikov, who had first-hand knowledge of the Russian laundromat, suffered the same fate a year later. (He actually was tossed off his balcony, but let’s not quibble about details).

Yet Vlad can’t be accused of being stuck in the rut of the same old technique. Nor does he always draw a fine line between enemies and traitors – both are high-risk groups, and the methods of dispatching them are as varied as life itself.

Speaking of only the past few years, opposition politician Nemtsov was ‘whacked’ a few feet from the Kremlin, where Vlad could enjoy the spectacle from his window.

Opposition Mafioso Berezovsky was garrotted in Berkshire.

Ex-KGB colleague Litvinenko was poisoned with a radioactive isotope in Mayfair – the first known case of nuclear terrorism.

Another opposition Mafioso Perepelichny, who was singing to the Swiss authorities about Russian money laundering, was poisoned in Surrey with gelsemium, a toxic plant only found in China and widely used there for the same purpose.

Yet another opposition Mafioso Gorbuntsov was shot six times in Canary Warf but miraculously survived.

But never mind talkative Mafiosi – it’s journalists and political opponents who are the usual target. At least 200 of them have been murdered on Putin’s watch and – as anyone familiar with Russia will know – on his direct orders. Hundreds more dissidents have been imprisoned on trumped-up charges, mutilated, savagely beaten up or threatened into silence.

This is how the KGB operates, and Putin once proudly said that “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB. This is for life.”

Not only Vlad himself but also 85 per cent of his government are career KGB officers and agents. The second group also comprises the entire hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church including its patriarch, which may explain the recently developed piety of Putin and his jolly friends.

It would be counterintuitive to expect these old dogs to learn new tricks. Tradecraft has penetrated their DNA and, if you know what the tradecraft is, you won’t be surprised at Russia’s actions.

Look at how the KGB did business and juxtapose it with Vlad’s MO. Assassination – tick. Recruitment through money – tick, as any number of Western politicians demonstrate, from Marine Le Pen to the ex-Chancellor of Germany Schroeder to various members of Trump’s inner circle. Provocation – tick, a technique widely used in the Ukraine and the Baltics. False flag operations – tick. Money laundering – tick, an activity in which the KGB began to indulge when it was still called OGPU.

What I find amazing is that the same people who say all the right things about Islamic terrorism extol the virtues of Putin’s frankly terroristic regime. There’s an important difference between ISIS and Putin: the former can only kill a few hundred people here and there; the latter could ‘whack’ whole countries – something of which Vlad and his mouthpieces never tire of reminding us.

Come to your senses, ladies and gentlemen, and readjust your moral scales before it’s too late. That appliance has gone haywire.

No, Prime Minister

Responding to the carnage at Westminster, Theresa May first did a fair imitation of Churchill by telling the Commons that “we will never waver”.

However, she then went on to prove that neither is she immune to influences of other, considerably inferior, politicians, such as George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Dave Cameron. It’s “wrong”, she said, to describe the attack as “Islamic terrorism”.

This came in an exchange that would rank fairly high on the list of craven, intellectually puny dialogues ever conducted in Parliament. It started with the question by Conservative MP Michael Tomlinson:

“Will the Prime Minister agree with me that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that in fact both are perversions of religion?” (He was referring to the Tory MP murdered in 1979 by Irish terrorists.)

“I absolutely agree,” said Mrs May. “It is ‘Islamist terrorism’, it is a perversion of a great faith.”

Both the question and the answer reveal a whole set of qualities that ought to disqualify the two interlocutors from government jobs: ignorance, stupidity, cowardice, conformism with any popular fad, contempt for truth.

Implied in the question was an exact parallel between IRA and Islamic terrorism, in that neither of them was motivated by their respective religions. This is offensive, ignorant nonsense.

There isn’t a single verse in the New Testament that demands, or even implies, that infidels should be killed or in any way molested. There are 300-odd verses in the Koran that demand it in so many words. Just off the top:

“Slay them [unbelievers] wherever ye find them…” (2:91) “We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.” (3:151) “Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.” (4:91) “The unbelievers are an open enemy to you.” (4:101) “Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends…” (5:51) “Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush” (9:5) “Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” (4:74) “…If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them…” (4:89).

In other words, while it’s impossible to be a murderer for Jesus, it’s not only possible but indeed mandatory to be a murderer for Mohammed. Thus, though the attack on Neave could under no circumstances be described as ‘Christian terrorism’, whatever religion the attackers espoused privately, the attack at Westminster faithfully reflected, and was motivated by, Muslim piety.

This was how Mrs May should have answered Tomlinson’s question, adding that he ought either to learn something about the subject before speaking or, for preference, shut up. The way she did answer it screams all those failings I enumerated above: ignorance, stupidity, cowardice, conformism with any popular fad, disregard for truth.

There’s no difference between Islamic and Islamist. In fact, the second adjective isn’t a valid term at all. Islamic terrorism isn’t “a perversion of a great faith”. It’s a logical reflection of a system of belief that masquerades as some sort of religion but is in fact a heavily politicised death cult with global aspirations.

Theologically, Islam is a patchwork quilt of scraps ripped out of Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and whatever else Mohammed could pick up with the ease of an illiterate autodidact.

The founder of Islam wasn’t a crucified martyr who taught to turn the other cheek. He was a brigand and a military leader, adept at raiding caravans and sacking towns.

His creed proved to be the catalyst to violent conquest whose pace was unprecedented in history. Unlike Christianity, which was first spread by peaceful and usually self-sacrificial sermon, Islam was propagated by exactly the methods currently on display in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Here’s an excerpt from the earliest Muslim biography of Mohammed, showing that in addition to inspiring murder the illustrious Prophet wasn’t averse to committing it with his own hand:

“Then [the Jewish Qurayza tribe] surrendered, and the apostle [Mohammed] confined them in Medina… Then he sent for them and struck off their heads… as they were brought out to him in batches… There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900… This went on until the apostle made an end of them.”

The Muslims began as they meant to go on. The subsequent 1,400 years provide a detailed catalogue of violence, both of the geopolitical and common-or-garden variety. Those who died at Westminster on Wednesday are just the latest additions to the list of Islam’s victims, numbering the better part of 300 million over history.

Is Mrs May unaware of such elementary facts? The scary thing is that it doesn’t matter whether she is or isn’t. She could in her spare time be an avid student of Muslim violence and its direct link with Islam, she could have all the relevant facts at her fingertips – it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference.

As a modern politician, she’d still feel duty-bound to mouth inane PC twaddle about Islamic and Islamist. We no longer have statesmen shaping the intellectual trends of the time. We have self-serving, mentally and morally deficient spivs acting as autopilot automata steering our whole civilisation to extinction.

And you know what the sobering thought is? Mrs May is far from being the worst of the lot.

 

 

Those Buddhists are at it again

PC stands for ‘police constable’, as in the officer murdered in yesterday’s terrorist attack on Westminster. It also stands for ‘politically correct’, as in the coverage of that crime in its immediate aftermath.

By far the greatest amount of reported detail concerned the car used in the crime. The grateful public learned its make, registration number, body style, price, where it was registered and hired, how long it took it to accelerate from 0 to 62mph. It all sounded more like an ad for Hyundai than a report on a heinous multiple murder.

But, though the self-driving revolution is upon us, the murder weapon on wheels didn’t drive itself. It was driven by a man, who then proceeded to enter the grounds of the mother of all parliaments and stab an unarmed policeman to death. (When are we going to abandon the insane idea that our policemen don’t need to be armed? Had PC Palmer carried a gun, he might have survived.)

This man decided to kill and be killed – he knew he wouldn’t survive the attack. Discarding the possibility that he was suffering from an incurable disease and chose suicide by cop to end his life (and a few other people’s while at it), this man must have been inspired by an idea he considered worth dying for.

What was that idea? Who was that man? The immediate report said only that he was ‘Asian’.

Now Asia is a rather large continent. Hence to say that someone is Asian means saying nothing at all. An Iraqi is more different from a Japanese than a Norwegian from a Kosovar, a Buddhist from a Muslim, or a Shintoist from a Copt.

Thus the very same reporters who described the car in intricate detail, stopping just short of mentioning its compression ratio and McPherson struts, neglected to provide any information about the murderer.

That left a blank to be filled by conjecture. What was your first guess of the terrorist’s identity? Sorry, I’m jumping the gun, as it were.

We were informed that, until further information, the police were treating the incident as an act of terrorism. Contextually, the availability of further information could change that assessment for… what exactly? That it was a charitable act?

So let’s display responsible restraint and refer to the driver-stabber as only the alleged terrorist. Now what was he? A Buddhist? Hinduist? Syrian Copt? Shintoist?

Are those Zen, Tibetan and Tantric Buddhists on the warpath again? Possible. But not exactly likely. Certainly not as likely as the first thought that sprang to my mind and I’m sure yours.

The attacker was a Muslim. I realise that jumping to this conclusion before we’ve even been told that a terrorist, as opposed to charitable, act was committed, betokens racism, Islamophobia, fascism, xenophobia, propensity for discrimination and, most damning of all, rebellion against the PC Zeitgeist.

But even at the risk of being accused of all those deadly sins, it’s hard to disconnect one’s analytical faculty altogether. You know, that part of the cognitive process that relies on known facts and historical information, all suggesting that nowadays any such act can only be perpetrated by a Muslim.

It’s sickening that at that tragic moment reporters were wary of coming across as transgressors against PC pseudo-morality. At least they had an excuse, however lame: initial shock at the sight of the carnage.

By contrast, David Aaronovitch of The Times had 24 hours to ponder the event. His conclusion? “…yesterday’s attack should not once again trigger a wholesale tarring of Muslim communities in Britain with the terrorist brush.”

Heaven forbid. We can’t possibly think of tarring the whole community wholesale or even retail. In fact, we can’t possibly think, full stop – not if Aaronovitch’s musings are an example of thought.

How does he imagine tarring the whole Muslim community with such a brush? Insisting that every Muslim is a suicide bombing waiting to happen? But no one in his right mind would think that.

Of course not every Muslim is a terrorist. By the same token, in 1940 only seven per cent of Germans were Nazis, and communists in Russia never exceeded 10 per cent of the population. Applying Aaronovitch’s logic, we shouldn’t say nasty things about either Nazis or communists or, God forbid, Germans and Russians as a group.

Yet in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, 27 per cent of British Muslims expressed sympathy with the murderers. That’s over a million potential jihadists, in impressive absolute numbers.

Instead of mouthing all this nauseating PC waffle, we must think clearly and act decisively. Otherwise terrorism will indeed become ‘part and parcel’ of living in London, which our Muslim mayor nonchalantly suggests it already is.

Just like the British who didn’t insist on fine distinctions between good and bad Germans in 1940, we have to realise there’s a war on. And wartime inevitably weakens commitment to civil liberties and abstract liberal philosophising.

I’m not suggesting that any British Muslim must be treated as an enemy alien, but certain measures suggest themselves.

All Muslim immigration must be summarily stopped until the present jihad madness becomes less febrile. Every mosque in which a single jihadist word has been uttered or a single murderer recruited must be shut down and preferably razed. Sharia law must be declared illegal. Anyone implicated in the perpetration or propaganda of terrorism must be deported, regardless of whether or not he holds a British passport. When terrorists’ provenance can be traced to a foreign country, that country must be held culpable and punished on an apocalyptic scale.

And so forth – all the time keeping the tar brush safely locked away. And oh yes, we must secure for Mr Aaronovitch an employment more suitable to his talents. Social worker perhaps, or community organiser, provided it’s not a Muslim community, where his name would be a major turn-off.

Nasty Martin and sainted Nelson

Since my hastily written piece yesterday, our conservative press has mercifully counterbalanced the emetic encomiums of McGuinness coming from the likes of the BBC, Blair and Corbyn.

The IRA chieftain has been correctly described as a cold-blooded mass murderer, and heartfelt wishes have been expressed that he rot in hell for all eternity. Photographs of his blood-soaked victims have covered newspaper spreads. His admirers have been appropriately flogged in public.

But alas even our conservative press isn’t all that clever. It too falls victim to modern cults. It too fails to delve into such matters at sufficient depth.

Hence, having said all the right things about the dead butcher, The Mail attacked the BBC’s John Simpson for daring to compare McGuinness to the canonised hero Nelson Mandela. “I really do despair,” wrote The Mail’s Steven Glover.

Comparing the two, Simpson said in his inimitable style that they should be seen “on that kind of side of the ledger”. Now I had my own issues with Simpson as far back as the early ‘90s, when he was covering all those glasnosts and perestroikas with schoolgirlish gasps of delight.

But here I must spring to his defence. McGuinness and Mandela do belong on the same ‘side of the ledger’, although not in the sense in which Simpson meant. Mutatis mutandis, the two are typologically close in that both were terrorists, murderers and torturers.

The gist of Glover’s despair is that, while blacks “were denied basic human rights” in South Africa, McGuinness operated against “the United Kingdom… where there were free elections and a democratically elected government”.

This belief in the redemptive value of a particular political method is deeply moving if not particularly intelligent.

Hitler’s government was democratically elected – would Glover have objected to a sniper’s bullet nipping it in the bud in 1933? Russia’s tsarist government wasn’t democratically elected – would Mr Glover have hailed the revolutionary terror that set the stage for the subsequent Bolshevik takeover? With the foreknowledge of the consequences in both cases?

Perhaps. After all, Mark Twain, Glover’s more talented predecessor in the useful idiocy business, showed the way. At the height of the anti-tsarist terror campaign, he wrote: “If such a government cannot be overthrown otherwise than by dynamite, then thank God for dynamite!” One wonders if, had he lived long enough to see it, Twain would have thanked God for the ensuing slaughter of millions.

One can infer that Glover welcomes not only Mandela’s murderous activities but also the hell unleashed in South Africa as a direct result. Blacks, whose human rights were so egregiously denied by apartheid, are now suffering from the kind of violence they never experienced under that, admittedly unsavoury, rule.

The country hatched out of Mandela’s version of freedom has one of the world’s highest crime rates, including murders, assaults and rapes (adult, child, infant and elderly).

Around 50 people are murdered every day, which is more by an order of magnitude than under apartheid. Over 40 per cent of South African women have been raped in their lifetime, while over 25 per cent of South African men admit to rape, half of them to more than one.

The cult of Mandela is as unfortunate as it’s understandable. Having lost God, modernity seeks idols, and Mandela was cast in this role while still doing time for terrorism. But all idols are false by definition, and Mandela is no exception.

The African National Congress, led by Mandela until his 1963 trial and after his 1990 release, was a Marxist terrorist organisation committed to the violent overthrow of the government. In that undertaking the ANC was assisted by the Soviets and their satellites, mainly Cuban and East German.

And it wasn’t just with arms: East German Stasi helped the ANC set up ‘Quatro’, the detention centre across the border in Angola. There dozens of anti-Marxists were tortured and murdered.

Mandela’s ANC thus received assistance from the same quarters as McGuinness’s IRA. In that spirit of international cooperation, the IRA sent its bomb-making experts to train aspiring ANC murderers, which greatly improved their efficiency.

However, the ANC didn’t just adopt foreign techniques. Some indigenous touches were added, such as the widespread practice of ‘necklacing’, whereby an old tyre was filled with petrol, put around a dissident’s neck and set alight.

All that was going on at the height of the Cold War, when direct association with the Soviets still carried some stigma in the West. That’s why any evidence of the ANC’s – and IRA’s – Marxist nature was routinely hushed up in the West’s predominantly liberal press.

Also kept under wraps was Mandela’s handwritten essay How to Be a Good Communist, in which he promised that “South Africa will be a land of milk and honey under a Communist government.”

But good communists know that war can be waged not only by violence but also by what Lenin called ‘legalism’ and what today would be called ‘peace process’. An intelligent man, Mandela grasped the situation. Guns not being the realistic long-term option, he had to become the prophet of peace. Parallels with McGuinness are screaming – is anyone listening?

Regardless of his personal participation in mass murder or lack thereof, Mandela is responsible for anything perpetrated on his watch by the organisation he led. Similarly, McGuinness, who was more hands-on, is responsible for every bomb, shooting and torture perpetrated by his ghastly gang.

So, like Glover, I really do despair too – at a world that has replaced faith with credulity, worship with idolatry and sound analysis with facile sentimentality.

Surrender, aka peace

“We shall never surrender,” thundered Churchill as Luftwaffe bombs, most of them incidentally made in the USSR, were raining down on London. And he was telling the truth: Britain stood firm.

However, having resisted those bombs with steadfast courage, 58 years later Britain meekly surrendered to other, smaller bombs planted by Irish gangsters in residential buildings, school buses and public transport.

Most of those bombs (or their components) were also made in the USSR or its satellites, as were the small arms with which those same gangsters murdered or kneecapped anyone they didn’t like. Admittedly, the electric drills used to torture victims were made by Western firms, Black & Decker being the preferred mark.

The gang was financed, armed and trained by various Marxist dictatorships, Muslim terrorists and of course directly by Russia. Some financing came from the traditional pursuits of organised crime: gun running, drugs, prostitution, gambling. Yet this was worse than any criminal activity pursued purely for fiscal gains.

For the whole monstrosity was couched in the faddish bien pensant language of national liberation, freedom and sovereignty. Mass murder was thereby justified and sanctified. Dupes around the world, in places like Boston, Mass., didn’t realise that the only real purpose of mass murder is to murder masses. All else is PR, including allusions to religious strife, pathetic when coming from a predominantly Marxist group.

It’s to this lot that Britain surrendered on Good Friday, 1998. It’s appropriate that the submission to this revolting gang was brokered by the most revolting character ever to disgrace 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair.

To be fair, successive US administrations had a role to play too, that of applying pressure on British governments to yield to the gangsters’ blackmail for the sake of ‘peace’. Sentimentally, which is to say stupidly, the Clintons of this world identified the IRA with their own Continental Congress. Politically, which is to say cynically, they were desperate to mollify the Irish vote.

The Good Friday ignominy was, and still is, hailed as a great success of British diplomacy. None dare call it surrender, none dare call it defeat.

Yet that’s exactly what it was. The butchers of Omagh formed the government of Northern Ireland, which entitled them to seats in Westminster Parliament. To their credit they turned the honour down.

Terrorism proceeded apace, if on a smaller scale. The Provos continued to kill and mutilate supposed informers, using the false flag of Real IRA. Their fanatical supporters were still refusing to cooperate with police. Even people who weren’t fanatical supporters also refused to cooperate, attached as they were to their kneecaps, lives and families.

Murderers serving time in prison received early releases. Those on the run and escaped prisoners were amnestied. The few not amnestied were still finding safe havens with IRA supporters. Their caches of weapons and explosives, supposed to have been ‘put beyond use’, still fired and blew up – no one was serious about verifying the terms of the agreement.

The gang won, and now the second-in-command victor, Martin McGuinness has died, to the deafening din of obituary panegyrics. The BBC obit mentions that “he was working as a butcher’s assistant when Northern Ireland’s Troubles erupted in the late 1960s” – without mentioning in so many words that he then graduated to full-fledged butcher in the IRA.

Yes, “…when soldiers from the Parachute Regiment killed 14 people in his hometown,… McGuinness was second in command of the IRA in the city.” However, “The Saville Inquiry concluded he had probably been armed with a sub-machine-gun on the day, but had not done anything that would have justified the soldiers opening fire.”

For fairness sake, the obituary mentions that McGuinness organised “one of the IRA’s most high-profile attacks… the attempt to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984”. But then it smoothly segues into praising McGuinness’s role in graciously agreeing to accept Britain’s surrender and shake Her Majesty’s hand (how she must have cringed inside).

“My war is over,” he famously declared then. Of course it was. He had won. And now his awful life is over too.

“Where they make a desert, they call it peace,” wrote Tacitus. He didn’t add that sometimes surrender is called peace too. The great historian wasn’t that prescient.

If Trump is their mote, who’s our beam?

Much has been made in the press about President Trump’s relations with Putin, and with good reason.

Several men in his administration, not to mention Trump himself, have been compromised by their links with Russia’s government, history’s unique fusion of secret police and organised crime.

Even if the links are unimpeachable from the legal standpoint, they’re certainly questionable morally – any personal, especially remunerative, relations with an evil regime have to be highly suspect.

Contrary to the Zeitgeist, immoral isn’t a full synonym of illegal, as many British newspapers keep telling us. However, to cite an unfashionable source, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

This brings us to The Evening Standard’s new editor, former Chancellor George Osborne, who since his sacking has further strengthened his already impressive credentials as a spiv to rival Tony-Dave.

In the good, if relatively recent, tradition of our public (self-) service, George has used the intervening months to earn millions in various jobs, most of them sinecures. Nothing new about this: we’re used to politicians using government as a springboard to self-aggrandisement, and only as that.

But even against that rotten background George’s editorial appointment has taken many a breath away. The papers are full of indignant accounts, with the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ ever-present.

True enough, it’s odd to allow a man who so recently occupied the second-biggest HMG post and is still an MP to take charge of an influential newspaper. Surely this gives Osborne an unfair jump on the competition, what with his being privy to most government secrets?

It’s unclear how free press can hold government to account if a major editor is servant to both masters. For a minister or MP to toss off the odd column explaining government policy is one thing; quite another for him to assume a role that presupposes “throwing bricks through windows”, in the phrase of a prominent journalist.

Anyway, every possible legal angle of Osborne’s appointment has already been explored under the electron microscope. Bereft as I am of such fine optical instruments, I have nothing to add to that scrutiny.

However, none of the commentators on this dodgy deal has mentioned the Russian connection involved, or more precisely the direct link to the aforementioned fusion of secret police and organised crime. Yet this is more interesting than the legalistic casuistry.

The Standard is owned (through the proxy of his son Evgeny) by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who carries that fusion in his own person. He has parlayed his KGB career into a fortune.

Exactly what Lebedev did in the KGB isn’t known. Officially he, like Putin, served in the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence). However, again like Putin, he must have first made his bones in domestic oppression. At the start of his business career he did like to threaten his competitors with KGB ‘torture chambers’, boasting of his experience in their use.

In 1995, having been in business for only two years, Lebedev bought a moribund National Reserve Bank. Government-owned Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, instantly transferred $300 million into its accounts, even though the bank seemed to be on its last legs.

That started Lebedev’s empire, which now includes a large media portfolio spearheaded by our own Standard and Independent. The true purpose of those acquisitions was revealed by hacked Kremlin e-mails, showing how Lebedev used the papers to orchestrate a press campaign securing Western approval for the theft of the Crimea.

His son, the papers’ nominal owner, commented on this with characteristic effrontery: “My father has spent his life trying to promote freedom of expression and justice in his fight against corruption in Russia.” Of course he has. Shame on you for thinking KGB officers cum billionaires may devote their lives to anything other than promoting human liberties.

Why did this de facto KGB operation decide to hire Osborne? It certainly wasn’t for his journalistic experience, of which he hasn’t had a single day. Would it be wild conjecture to suggest that the Lebedevs want to explore Osborne’s government connections for their own nefarious purposes?

One wonders how professional journalists on The Standard will like working for an amateur spiv. Probably they’ll like it well enough, having bought into the paper’s implicit editorial policy. One of them once tried to explain to me over drinks why Putin is a force of good in the world.

He stopped just short of repeating the line uttered yesterday by Dmitri Kisilev, Putin’s chief TV propagandist. Commenting on the 1917 October revolution, the man the Russians affectionately call ‘Putin’s Goebbels’ said: “The amount of freedom in the world grew as a result.”

The Standard, operating as it does in London, can’t yet be quite so forthright, but perhaps George will sort it out. After all, he has form in dealing with Russian Mafiosi.

As a rising mock-Tory star, Osborne once had several meetings with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian ‘aluminium king’, whose Mafia links have made him persona non grata in the US.

Since in Russia organised crime is inseparable from the KGB/FSB, it’s useful to remember that this organisation never offers something for nothing. If, as was established at the time, Deripaska used Osborne as a conduit for donations to the Tory party, he didn’t just pursue his own business interests.

Osborne acted, and still does, on the principle first enunciated by Emperor Vespasian: pecunia non olet. To him money, whether flowing into his own coffers or his party’s, indeed doesn’t smell. To some of us the Lebedevs’ shilling stinks to high heaven.

Then again, if we let KGB Mafiosi buy our newspapers, how can we object to our politicians working for them?