University: school of hard knockers

University of Brighton student, cramming for her exams

The funniest novel ever written, The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, features a pimp as a minor character.

That creative fellow comes up with an ingenious way of charging customers: a menu of female attributes, each with a price tag attached.

A customer can order his preferences from the list: big, small; blonde, brunette; tall, short – that sort of thing.

One rubric gives a choice of educated, uneducated, with the latter being considerably more expensive.

The book should be compulsory reading for the female students of Brighton University, especially when they begin to consider their future professions in earnest. If they study some genuine academic subjects (not to be taken for granted with today’s universities), they may find themselves at a disadvantage when pursuing careers in prostitution.

But not to worry: their university offers invaluable guidance, preparing girls as young as 18 to negotiate their way through the undercurrents of that lucrative and rewarding occupation.

At its freshers’ fair, the university hosts a stand run by the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (Swop), an advice service “representing student sex workers”. Apparently the word ‘prostitutes’ has been deemed to be too judgemental.

The advice on offer covers the use of condoms and lubricants (free samples provided at the stand), and also ways of making ‘punters’ believe the girl has a pimp even if she hasn’t. That subterfuge is supposed to deter post-coital aggression manifesting itself in violence.

I don’t know whether advice on S&M is also provided, complete with the appropriate kits of whips, chains and PVS attire, but that would be a good idea. Without offering a full range of services, a student may find herself losing out to better-trained competition.

“Sex work is work,” explained a spokesman for Swop, meaning work like any other, a workwoman worthy of her hire and all that.

I agree. Prostitution is indeed work – and hard work at that. Then again, so are burglary, theft and contract killing. That is to say, in a distinctly reactionary way, that not all work possesses redemptive value.

Now, mentioning the moral and aesthetic aspects of propositioning passersby (“Oi, handsome, wanna have a party?”) would be too curmudgeonly for words. But the legal side of that profession is a matter of objective fact, not subjective judgement.

While prostitution itself is legal in Great Britain, soliciting isn’t, which is a bit like legalising drugs but criminalising offering them for sale. Defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Thus a girl taught at Brighton University that sex work is just work, like accounting or nursing, may, should she try to flog her wares, find herself on the receiving end of a criminal conviction.

This may curtail her opportunities in any career other than prostitution: even if the applicant doesn’t mention her prior trade in the ‘experience’ rubric, potential employers do run background checks.

But who says a woman has to retrain for a different career in later life? Isn’t prostitution work like any other, and more remunerative than some? It also requires less training than most, and whatever little is needed Swop is on hand to provide.

If Hašek is to be believed, the girls must be taught to increase their earning potential by concealing their education, but that would be no hardship, considering what most of our universities have become.

The University of Brighton, for example, is one of those polytechnics rebranded as universities in keeping with our commitment to class struggle and equality across the board. It was elevated to that status only in 1992, one of the hundreds of such sham institutions.

They were created to make it possible for our Conservative (!) government to announce proudly that Tony Blair’s cherished dream is about to come true: half of our young people will get university education.

This worthy goal is only achievable by changing the meaning of the word ‘university’ and attaching it to polytechnics and other professional training schools. Enter Brighton University, its doors hospitably open to Swop.

To this institution’s credit, however, it doesn’t pay for that esteemed organisation to supplement the students’ courses in women’s studies and other equally valuable academic disciplines.

But if the university doesn’t pay Swop, who does? After all, free brochures, condoms, lubricants, fishnets and PVC knickers don’t grow on trees. So where does the money come from?

From you, is the short answer. For Swop is financed by the NHS, the Home Office and other government departments, the National Lottery and the local council. So if you ever wonder where your taxes go, here’s part of the answer.

I don’t think that’s quite what John Henry Newman had in mind when he published his 1856 book The Idea of a University. The university’s soul, he wrote, lies in the mark it leaves on the students.

So if the mark is that of a whore, what sort of soul does the university have? Rhetorical question, this. Don’t bother to answer.

Judge, ye shall be judged

Judge Kavanaugh could be a serial murderer, which means he is.

The spectacle of watching Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confronting his accusers and also members of the Senate Judiciary Committee brought back some vivid memories of my KGB interrogation, c. 1972.

My interrogator knew I loathed the Soviets and everything they stood for, I knew that he knew, and he knew that I knew he knew. That wasn’t the point.

The point was to catch me out, make me say something incriminating about my friends or myself. To that end he kept trying to wear me down with monotonously repetitive questions, hoping I’d give him a usable reply the tenth time of asking.

Watching the Senate proceedings, I recognised the technique. Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris clearly knew the score, which at the moment is tied.

The Supreme Court is now hung, with four conservative members and four leftists cancelling one another out. If elected, Kavanaugh would swing the balance the Right way, which, as far as the Democratic senators are concerned, is the wrong way.

The issue is particularly critical because the US Supreme Court increasingly acts not just as a referee, but also as a player. Judiciary activism effectively means that judges play a role in establishing policy, not merely holding it to constitutional scrutiny.

Sen. Harris was particularly concerned that the Supreme Court might overturn the 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade, which extended a right of privacy to a woman wanting an abortion.

She kept banging on and on, trying to trick Judge Kavanaugh into admitting that he’d overturn Roe v. Wade, and first agreeing that the Supreme Court is within its rights to go back on its prior decisions with no statute of limitations applying.

Sen. Harris succeeded in making her mark sound less than completely coherent, but he still made more sense than she did. For example, he pointed out that earlier this year the Supreme Court repudiated the 1944 decision according to which the wartime internment of Japanese Americans was constitutional.

And so on, ad nauseam. But the real need for sick bags arose when Dr Christine Ford gave her testimony about being raped by Brett Kavanaugh 35 years ago, when he was 17 and she 15.

Well, not exactly raped but sexually assaulted. He was drunk, so was she. He threw her on the bed, tried to remove her clothes, failed – but nonetheless succeeded in traumatising Dr Ford for life.

As she was courageously fighting tears, the 51-year-old psychologist was asked whether she was sure it was actually Brett who traumatised her so egregiously. But of course she was sure, 100 per cent, replied the victim.

How can she be so sure, asked one of the senators. After all, 35 years is a long time.

In response, Dr Ford drew on her professional expertise. The explanation, she explained, lies in “the level of norepinephrine and the level of epinephrine in the brain that sort of, you know, encodes memories in the hippocampus so the trauma experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drifted.”

That should have made it an open and shut case. What could have possibly been any clearer?

That bestial experience doubtless left an indelible imprint in Dr Ford’s brain. Unfortunately, the identity of her assailant seems to be one of the other details that kind of drifted.

For none of those present at that party, including a friend of Dr Ford, confirmed Brett Kavanaugh’s guilt. Moreover, two men have come forward to claim they were the ones who assaulted Christine Ford in 1982.

Other victims of Judge Kavanaugh’s youthful libido have been equally vague.

One of them claimed that roughly at the same time young Brett stuck his penis into her face at a party. Well, somebody did at any rate and, knowing what kind of person Brett is – the kind of animal who could overturn Roe v. Wade – it could have been him.

Could have been or was? To this lot it makes no difference. The issue is all about higher matters than nit-picking about little facts like that. He could have done it means he did it – the logic that again made me recall my Soviet youth.

As I write this, the Senate panel is voting on Judge Kavanaugh’s candidature. As a strong supporter of even post-natal abortion, say up to the age of six months – or, in the case of Jeremy Corbyn, 69 years – I hope they’ll send him packing.

And if the earth-shattering evidence presented by Dr Ford isn’t enough to deliver that result, I can offer a few more pieces of equally damning, irrefutable proof.

Judge Kavanaugh could have perpetrated serial murders. He could have committed war crimes in Bosnia, Iraq and Germany… oops, sorry, not Germany, the numbers don’t quite add up. Just Bosnia and Iraq then.

He could have poisoned Litvinenko with polonium and the Skripals with novichok. He could have laundered billions of dollars through Panama.

All those awful things he could have done – what other evidence do the senators need to stop this criminal in his tracks? I say hang Judge Kavanaugh and win a valuable prize: Roe v. Wade intact.

Any news of Russia is hardly news

“Why pick just on me, Gov?”

As the etymology of the word suggests, news is something that tells people what they don’t already know, throwing a new light on recent events.

My contention is that no information about Russia fits that definition. Just look at the two news items currently making all the papers.

First (in importance, not chronology), we’ve found out beyond any doubt that the chaps who poisoned the Skripals and everyone else in the vicinity are actually GRU officers.

One of them has been identified as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a much-decorated veteran of Spetsnaz (GRU special forces) and undercover intelligence work.

Crikey. And there I was, thinking he and his accomplice really were camp lovers of Gothic architecture and each other, who simply couldn’t miss the glory of Salisbury Cathedral. “Don’t you think this spire is absolutely scrumptious, darling, and ever so slightly naughty, the way its stands up at the ready?”

So the Botox Boy lied through his teeth when he declared publicly that’s what the two murderers were. That’s another bit of non-news.

Putin’s whole career is based on lies, from his youth in Leningrad street gangs to his early years as a small-fry KGB thug to his maturity as the principal Petersburg gangster to his current position of presiding over history’s first gangster state.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s always nice to find a confirmation of something one knows already. Such scoops are pleasantly tickling to one’s ego. What they aren’t is news, for they add nothing to existing knowledge.

Then there’s the item about Abramovich being denied Swiss residency because of his links with organised crime and propensity for money laundering. His presence in Switzerland, ruled a federal judge, would be detrimental to the country’s reputation.

That’s a bit like a prostitute refusing to enter a casino because gambling is immoral.

Switzerland’s reputation is that of a money launderer who somehow has cloaked himself in a mantle of respectability. If Abramovich’s presence is deemed too toxic for the rarefied atmosphere of Swiss finance, then he’s a money launderer lacking even such a flimsy cover.

So what else is new? Anyone who manages to make a fortune in a gangster state is himself a gangster. If he isn’t, then long before he makes his first billion he’ll end up ‘whacked’ (Putin’s preferred term), suicided or in prison.

None of those misfortunes has befallen Abramovich, who satisfies the main – some will say the only – requirement for massive enrichment in Russia: he’s Putin’s poodle, always at the Botox Boy’s beck and call.

Abramovich has to be one of the major conduits through which Putin’s personal billions flow to the West. Occupying that position is a major honour in Russia, and a prerequisite for making and keeping one’s own billions.

The honour comes at a price. Thus whenever the Botox Boy needs a few hundred million to bankroll some obscene extravaganza, such as Olympics or a World Cup, chaps like Abramovich fling their wallets wide-open.

Or when Putin needs one of his stooges to act as governor of a province, Abramovich is his first choice to take over Chukotka, a piece of icy tundra in the Russian Far East housing 50,000 thoroughly frozen souls.

Some personal tributes are also welcome, such as the timely gift of a £25-million yacht Abramovich presented to the Botox Boy. Neither the biggest nor the costliest, but hey – it’s the thought that counts. Modest but tasteful, as the Russians say.

Is any of this eye-opening news? Far from it, at least to anyone who knows that Russia is indeed history’s first gangster state, criminalised from top to bottom and run by a perfect blend of secret police and organised crime.

And anyone who doesn’t know this simply doesn’t want to know, like those Western lefties who denied the on-going slaughter of millions in the Soviet Union. You know, the empire whose demise the Botox Boy describes as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century”.

For reams of amply documented facts are in the public domain. In the past month alone I have read three books that dispel any residual doubts anyone may harbour about the true nature of Putin’s Russia: Russian Roulette by Isikoff and Corn, House of Trump, House of Putin by Craig Unger and Moneyland by Oliver Bullough.

Among other things, these books cite and show photocopies of countless documents tracking Putin’s criminal career and those of his accomplices.

Abramovich figures prominently, along with that other great English footballer, Alisher Usmanov, and their French colleague Dmitry Rybolovlev. Football clubs must be useful laundromats – or else their function is simply to confer some respectability on Putin’s friends.

What upsets me about this story is that even the Swiss seem to be more moral than either the US or Britain. The two countries have gratefully absorbed an estimated two trillion dollars of purloined Russian cash flowing through the veins of their finance.

It’s only now, after the much-publicised tour of Salisbury Cathedral, that HMG is beginning to stir a little.

Thus Abramovich’s British visa has so far not been extended, and the poor chap had to become an Israeli citizen in a hurry. Our gain is Israel’s loss, I’d say.

Moreover, one even hears vague noises about impounding large Russian accounts whose provenance is dubious. A move in the right direction, but that’s something I’ll have to see to believe.

However, my sense of fair play, vicariously acquired but none the weaker for it, is such that I sympathise with Abramovich. Why single him out?

Since in a gangster state only gangsters become rich, every large fortune acquired in Russia (not necessarily by Russians) is proceeds of criminal activities.

Impounding all such assets, without going into casuistic detail in each individual case, would thus be a welcome hygienic procedure, making the air of London purer to breathe.

Russian loot is ecologically worse than carbon dioxide, you can take this to a bank – and feel free to cite me as the source.

Blood libel, Mark II, is alive in Russia

Vlad has changed his opinion: so it was the Jews after all

The other day, the Botox Boy magnanimously acknowledged that Israeli F-16s had nothing to do with the downing of the Russian spy plane IL-20. It was just a tragic incident of friendly fire.

Those trigger-happy Syrians had been so unnerved by the Israeli raid that they were scatter-gunning those S-200s at everything that flew.

Since the Israeli fighters had already returned to base, the only thing flying at that time was the IL-20, a high-altitude, low-speed sitting duck. The Syrian AA chaps took it for an F-16 and brought it down. An easy mistake to make.

But then Vlad thought better of it. Let’s face it: when Russian-trained soldiers fire a Russian-made missile at a Russian plane, killing 15 Russian officers, whom are you going to blame?

Syrians? To the Russians, that’s like blaming children. The Russians themselves? Be your age: everyone, including Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn and Peter Hitchens, knows that Russia is the last bastion of goodness and, as such, has a blank indulgence against all sin.

Americans? That usually works, up to a point. But even Vlad’s intricate mind couldn’t find a way to make it work in this case.

As a young lad, Vlad read his Sherlock Holmes, when he had a break from running with his street gang. And the great detective taught that, when one has eliminated every possibility but one, the remaining possibility is the answer.

So it had to be the Jews, it was as simple as that. Selling that message in Russia is like selling water in a desert: success is guaranteed. If Jews exsanguinate Christian babies for culinary purposes, they’re certainly capable of using a Russian plane as a shield.

A swift 180, and first defence spokesman Konashenkov, then Defence Minister Shoigu, then Vlad himself, then all his trained propagandists put the blame on Israel, which had been their first reaction anyway.

So fine, the Syrian AA chaps got carried away a bit, but why? Because the Israelis – Jews! – had raided Iranian targets sited close to Russian bases. That was criminal negligence at best, aggression against Russia at worst.

More honest commentators would have mentioned that Iranians, who are as committed as their Hezbollah clients to exterminating Israel, deliberately put their facilities near Russian bases.

The trick has been perfected by Hamas and Hezbollah, who routinely place their rocket launchers near or in hospitals and schools. That gives them a ready-made propaganda coup when Israeli retaliatory strikes hit patients or tots.

So what exactly happened there? Did the Syrian S-200 crews make the mistake of confusing the IL-20 with an Israeli F-16?

Not according to the Russian officer Yuri Alexeev, whose commentary crossed my desk the other day. Here are some excerpts, in my translation:

“Since I studied the S-200 system at military school and then served at it for many years, I can state the following: the Arabs could not have confused an F-16 with an IL-20…

“All the surfaces of a jet plane reflecting the radar beam are immobile. That’s why the reflected signal formed by the plane’s several ‘hot spots’ has roughly the same frequency and looks like three adjacent vertical lines.

“On the other hand, due to the Doppler effect, a turboprop plane (its rotating propellers create various Doppler additions to the signal frequency) produces a signal in the shape of multiple vertical lines that fill practically the whole radar screen.

“Any training of radar operators and other crew members starts from explaining these very differences. I’m sure our instructors who trained the Arab crew did just that…

“It has to be said that the S-200B system is complex to maintain and operate. All sorts of procedures are involved in launching a rocket…

“If the crew managed to launch a missile, they were clearly trained and definitely knew the difference in the footprints of a jet and a turboprop plane…

“There’s a theory that the Syrian crew followed and attacked an F-16 that then performed an evasive manoeuvre, pushing into the radar coverage our plane that has a much larger reflective surface. The missile re-targeted it automatically and a hit occurred.

“Yes, that’s possible – but only if our plane was ‘lit up’ by the radar. If there had been no reflected signal, the missile would have self-destructed. That means the Arabs had been tracking our plane and therefore saw the reflected signal on the radar screen.

“Moreover, to re- target, the operator had to switch manually to the automatic tracking of the new target…

“In my opinion, the Arabs knew what they were tracking and launched a missile deliberately. This is a matter of ‘corporate ethics’.

“Losing a target is the worst thing that can happen to an AA officer. When we were on duty, we were issued pistols. Being young, we’d ask our commanders what the guns were for. They’d reply that, if you lose a target, go and shoot yourself, to save the paperwork at the court martial.

“All personnel at AA missile systems knew that still having unlaunched rockets after an enemy raid was a guaranteed death sentence for themselves. It’s likely that the Arabs had been imbued with that principle, so they fired at whatever they saw.”

Such is the expert view, confirmed by every informed commentator on the incident. But that doesn’t matter to the Botox Boy and his jolly friends.

The choice between blaming themselves or the Jews was in reality no choice at all. It was a foregone conclusion.

To the rest of us, the tall story about Israel’s guilt is considerably less credible than the possibility of the Russians themselves downing their own plane by way of a provocation.

I don’t know whether they did or didn’t, nor what they were trying to provoke (one possibility is causing a rift with Israel to strengthen ties with Iran). I’m only saying that this is more plausible than Israel’s perfidy.

For many years now Israel has been trying to cultivate Russia as an ally. The two countries have been ostensibly as friendly as friendly can be – partly, I’m sure, because many gangsters from Putin’s entourage park their ill-gotten gains in Israel.

Israel, surrounded by enemies seeking her annihilation, desperately needs every ally she can get. Thus committing a hostile act against Russia is simply out of the question for the Israeli government.

Netanyahu and his ministers have been bending over backwards trying to please the Russians in every possible way. They didn’t seem to realise that, when one sups with the devil, no spoon is ever long enough.

It’s all society’s fault

“Did you feel dejected or rejected as a child, Mr Cosby?”

Found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, the comedian Bill Cosby will be sentenced soon.

The guilty verdict came at the second time of asking, the first trial having ended in a hung jury last year. The second trial, however, did the business, helped no doubt by the now prevalent me-tooism.

Meanwhile, by way of a warm-up, the judge called Mr Cosby a “sexually violent predator” and ruled that he must undergo counselling for life.

Considering that he’s 81, that may not be a particularly long time. Nevertheless, the pre-sentencing ruling strikes me as odd.

Mr Cosby’s wooing technique involved slipping a girl a mickey and then proceeding to have a bit of how’s-your-father with her. One would think that, given his star status and influence in show business, he wouldn’t have had to resort to chemicals to get his jollies, but probably they do save time.

Now considering the mass hysteria surrounding such cases, one tends to question the justice of any verdict to convict – one tangible result of this madness.

But, assuming that Mr Cosby really is guilty as charged and convicted, he’s indeed a criminal. Lock him up and throw away the key, as the saying goes.

But what does counselling have to do with anything? Does the judge really believe that a man in the twilight of his life will reform as a result of regular meetings with a chap asking probing questions about Mr Cosby’s childhood urge to shag his Mum, kill his Dad and poke his own eyes out?

I know I’m oversimplifying the job of a counsellor, but I don’t think it’s by much. For it’s oversimplified thinking that’s behind this bizarre ruling.

The assumption seems to be that criminals in general and Mr Cosby specifically suffer from a correctable personality disorder depriving them of any ability to make a free choice between good and bad.

Hence an elaborate inquiry uncovering their innermost childhood cravings about their mothers or some such pay dirt may make them better men, less likely to reoffend. Such an inquiry is seen as a valuable addition to incarceration and often its replacement.

The notion of free will, without which our civilisation might as well pack up and go home, no longer applies. A sentenced criminal is no longer just a villain. In some convoluted way, he’s also a patient.

This tune sounds throughout society, and witnesses, especially victims, know they mustn’t strike discordant notes. Thus Mr Cosby didn’t just have sex without permission – because of his psychological disorder he inflicted a profound, lifelong trauma on his marks.

Just listen how one of them, Andrea Constand, describes her ordeal: “Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.”

Who on earth, what normal person, ever talks like that? How long did the defence counsel have to rehearse this oration with Miss Constand? Did he write it out and make her learn it by heart? Was there a psychologist involved, to make sure she’d sing the psychobabble song in every tonal detail?

I must say, had I been on that jury, I would have voted not guilty simply on the strength of that objectionable rhetoric. I would have simply refused to believe that Miss Constand was honest. That’s not how honest people talk.

Why did she and her legal team feel all that nonsense had to be mouthed? Surely, if Mr Cosby had indeed drugged and raped her, no verbal ornamentation of the facts should have been necessary.

The act, if proved to be what it was, should by itself be sufficient to make Mr Cosby celebrate his ninetieth birthday in prison. So yes, by all means punish him for what he did.

But in the process don’t punish the rest of us by making the law sound ludicrous, in hock to modern fads and pseudomedical perversions. Spare us the psychodin – and spare Mr Cosby the indignity of psychoanalysis.

He doesn’t need it – in fact, I doubt anyone ever does. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was wrong and he did it anyway. That’s a vile crime, not a symptom of mental illness, and it’s not something that can be treated.

It’s something that must be punished – and if any attendant rhetoric is deemed necessary, it should revolve around good and evil, and the God-given free will enabling us to tell the difference between the two.

Anything else diminishes every human being, by debauching the very idea of humanity.

Trust Corbyn

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could all live in Venezuela without actually moving there?”

My approach to socialists is rather simplistic, and I’m man enough to admit this failing.

More sophisticated analysts than me divide socialists into finely nuanced categories: national (Nazi), international (communist or some such), moderate, democratic, Christian and so forth.

I simplify this taxonomy by dividing socialists into just two broad groups: good people and those who are still alive.

I’m ashamed of this lack of subtlety, but I can do no other. (Doesn’t this sound so much better in English than in Luther’s original German, Ich kann nicht anders?)

What separates different hues of the socialist red is trivial compared to what unites them: the urge to destroy things that make Britain British or, more generally, the West Western.

When they want to destroy all such things, they’re called extreme or hard left. When they don’t mind keeping the odd thing or two for old times’ sake, they’re called moderate or left of centre.

A distinction without a difference, at least as far as the underlying destructive animus is concerned.

There’s some difference in the chosen weapons of destruction, and that’s admittedly more valid: on balance, I’d rather die impoverished in a care centre than emaciated in a labour camp.

There’s also a difference in the words they use: some are more forthright than others.

For example, Tony Blair, the most perfidious nonentity among our socialists, hid his hatred of every traditional custom and institution behind a smokescreen of fake neo-Thatcherism.

Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, doesn’t mind openly coming across as an evil nonentity. Where Blair is typologically close to Gramsci, Marcuse and Adorno, Corbyn gravitates more towards Trotsky, Chavez and Maduro.

That’s why I trust Jeremy implicitly. Whenever he promises to introduce a policy guaranteed to reduce Britain to the status of Venezuela, he means what he says – and he’ll do what he promises.

My credulity begins to totter, nay come down crashing, whenever he insists that Britain will profit from his premiership. But, to give Jeremy his due, he’s so vague about any specific benefits that one gets the impression he doesn’t even expect to be believed.

Many people have made the mistake of not taking evil, destructive men at their word when they preach mayhem. Such people clearly have no faith in human honesty, a quality on which I pride myself.

When Lenin talked about wiping out every noxious bourgeois insect, defined in rather open-ended terms, most people assumed that was just a figure of speech.

They noticed that included in that wide category weren’t just factory owners, but everybody Lenin hated: priests, the intelligentsia, army officers, financiers, administrators, engineers, scientists, artisans or simply university graduates.

Surely, people were saying, he couldn’t possibly mean wiping them all out physically. He’s smart enough to realise Russia would be a basket case without her educated classes.

Oh yes, he could mean just that. And he did what he meant, with precisely the dreaded consequences.

In the same vein, when Stalin defined as kulaks every hard-working peasant and called for “liquidating them as a class”, he wasn’t taken literally. Who’d feed the people if all the productive peasants were ‘liquidated’?

They missed the point. Socialism, at least its hard variety, isn’t about feeding people. It’s about liquidating them, and that’s precisely what Stalin proceeded to do, picking up the relay baton his syphilitic predecessor had dropped – with millions starving to death as a result.

And when Hitler published his Mein Kampf, spelling out his plans involving the German Jews, no one – least of all the German Jews themselves – believed him.

Germany, with her Kultur and Bildung, was the most civilised country in the world, they were saying. It can’t possibly allow mass murder, and Herr Hitler, for all his stridency, was only speaking figuratively, wasn’t he?

Yes, quite.

Now Jeremy Corbyn, unfortunately for him, lives at a time and in a country that aren’t quite ready for mass murder. Being a clever chap, he knows it, which is why physical destruction of millions isn’t on his agenda.

But the destruction of the British economy certainly is, and, to Jeremy’s credit, he’s honest about it. He has proposed a whole raft of policies, each of which would damage the economy grievously.

Executed together, they’d take Britain close to the country Corbyn admires with every fibre of what passes for his soul: the Venezuela of Chavez and Maduro.

Two of those proposed policies are very much in the news: obligating companies to transfer 10 per cent of their shares to their employees, and putting several employees and union representatives on company boards.

The second policy is pernicious enough on its own, but it’s the first one that assails not only the country’s economic health but indeed her fundamental principles.

One such principle, without which Britain wouldn’t be Britain, is property rights – and the liberties derived therefrom.

Where will those 10 per cent of the shares come from? There are only two possible sources, both amounting to confiscation.

One is robbing the existing stockholders of 10 per cent of their property; the other is issuing more shares, thereby reducing the value of those already held. This mugging will be exacerbated by many stockholders dumping their shares and reducing the value of the stock even further.

I could easily imagine the practical ramifications of this rape of Britain’s ethos, but mercifully I don’t have to: there’s enough empirical evidence. The effects of this policy have been about the same everywhere it has been tried.

Some companies, and most of the foreign ones, simply move their business elsewhere, leaving behind a gaping hole in the country’s finances and employment statistics.

Those that stay, do two things: lower wages and roll back hiring. That delivers a blow to the country’s economy by effectively reducing GDP and again increasing unemployment.

You see, unlike Corbyn, most companies want to create wealth, not rob or otherwise destroy it. When they see their creative impulse extinguished, they won’t take it lying down. If there’s one thing that history teaches it’s that people – and businesses – flee from socialism.

This policy can do a fine job impoverishing Britain all by itself, but Jeremy isn’t taking any chances. To guarantee his desired outcome, he also plans stratospheric tax rises and wholesale nationalisation.

So please trust Corbyn to deliver on his promises – I certainly do.

Can faith be merged with politics?

This may look like a church. But it isn’t one.

Since the time of St Paul, Christians have struggled to find a blend between the truth revealed from heaven and the life lived on earth.

The static eschatological perfection only achievable in the kingdom of God has had to be balanced against the dynamic human nature made imperfect by the Fall.

This isn’t the Eastern balance of things similar in nature. It’s a balance coaxed out of a clash between opposites: perfection and imperfection, one of them divine and the other human, but both extreme.

That’s why the balance is so precarious: one step too far in either direction, and a precipice beckons. One or the other end of the seesaw will shoot up violently, tossing either God or man into the gaping abyss.

When it comes to specifically political life, the balancing act becomes even harder to perform, and Frank Field, MP, acknowledges this in the first paragraph of his article The Politics of Faith.

Hard, however, doesn’t necessarily mean impossible. The task only becomes impossible when one brings to bear on it an incomplete set of intellectual tools.

The most essential tool is the ability to understand and wield Christian thought, which alone can provide a bridge between the intricacies of faith and vicissitudes of politics.

Without building that bridge spanning the gap between the two, a Christian politician will have to choose whether he wants to be a Christian or a politician. Both together won’t be on offer.

Keeping the two separate is of course possible, but that reduces Christianity to the level of a hobby. It stops being the guiding light of a man’s life, which contradicts the essence of doctrine.

Mr Field senses this conundrum and tries to find a way around it. As an honest man, he acknowledges the problem – without perhaps realising its full gravity.

“I have never consciously thought of taking one course of action rather than another because I am a Christian…,” he writes. “I have never known, as those from the Evangelical wing of the Church do, a particular presence of Jesus.”

My ordained friends would probably wince. For knowing “a particular presence of Jesus” isn’t the exclusive property of the Evangelicals. One could argue that this is partly what defines a Christian qua Christian.

Another part is the ability to hold one’s action to the test of Christian thought, and this is what Mr Field self-admittedly lacks.

Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to be aware that he’s missing something vital. That’s understandable: in his religious school he was “ given a sense of a way of life that, at its best, is an affair of the heart.”

Not for a man trying to reconcile faith and politics, it isn’t.

Mr Field refers to his Catholic faith, by which he means Anglo-Catholic, which isn’t quite the same thing. Yet his anti-intellectual view of Christianity is aggressively anti-Catholic and, dare I say it, dubiously Christian.

Christianity is the most rational and, if you will, philosophical of all religions. It does start with an a priori statement of faith, but then so do most scientific discoveries.

A scientist believes in the truth of his hypothesis, just like a Christian believes in the truth of his faith. Yet for both it’s only the starting point of a journey.

They proceed to hold their hypothesis to a series of rigorous tests, both empirical and inductive. These either confirm or disprove the a priori statement.

This analogy can’t be pushed too far. For a scientist who merely states his hypothesis and leaves it at that isn’t much of a scientist. A Christian, however, can remain true to his faith even if eschewing ratiocination altogether.

He can indeed be guided by his heart only – but not to a perch where he’ll be capable of finding a link between his religion and something as devilishly (I use the word advisedly) complicated as politics.

Alas, Mr Field confirms my lifelong conviction that a socialist can be a highly moral person or a highly intelligent one, but never both.

For, whatever else socialism may be, it’s by definition materialist to a vulgar extreme. Rather than seeking heavenly equality of all before almighty God, it seeks earthly equality of all under the almighty state.

The view of life at the foundations of socialism has no intellectual value whatsoever, for even the most strident materialists must see that there’s more to life than its physical shell (man’s mind for a start, along with the thought it produces).

Someone who tries to defend an indefensible proposition either doesn’t understand that’s what it is, in which case he isn’t very bright, or defends it for ulterior reasons, in which case he isn’t very moral.

Mr Field has been a socialist his whole life, albeit of a mild variety. That means he advocates a bit less of a bad thing, making him the Labourite the Tories love most.

Everyone who knows him says he’s a good man, which he proved by resigning the Labour whip a couple of months ago and continuing as ‘an independent Labour MP’, whatever that means in our partisan politics.

Mr Field was rightly appalled by Corbyn’s anti-Semitism, but his detractors will remind him that it was he who had originally nominated that evil Trotskyist nonentity for Labour leadership. And Corbyn never took pains to hide his true nature, did he?

Throughout his career Mr Field has advocated some vaguely conservative policies and many downright socialist ones. The two were often mutually exclusive, giving the impression that in his politics too he’s mainly driven by his heart.

Hence, by writing his article, Mr Field took on a burden his intellectual shoulders are too weak to bear. This he proved by proposing a view of Christianity that’s sufficiently ignorant to put even Archbishop Welby to shame:

“The leitmotif running through the Old and into the New Testament is the concept of the Kingdom in this world… My revolutionary politics are about that commandment to seek and, by seeking, to help to build the Kingdom.”

This is a staggeringly inept reading of Scripture, especially the New Testament. There isn’t a single word there that would lead one to believe that the kingdom in question is anything other than the metaphysical end to physical life.

Jesus himself was unequivocal on the subject when he said: “My kingdom is not of this world.” But where is that kingdom, and when will it arrive?

The Pharisees asked Jesus that very question, hoping to catch him out. His reply put them in their place: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘Lo there!’ for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Many scholars regard the word ‘within’ as a mistranslation of the Greek entos. This word means not only ‘within’, but also ‘among’, ‘in the midst of’. Jesus told the Pharisees that he was the kingdom of God, which was therefore in their midst.

He himself gave an indication of that meaning by telling the Pharisees what really was within them: “…your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”

Ravening and wickedness. Not much room left for the kingdom God there.

Yet the kingdom can indeed be within a man, provided he lets it in. In either sense, Christ himself is that kingdom. Nowhere does he describe it as something that could be created by political means before the Second Coming.

To use the concept as a basis of “revolutionary politics” ill-behoves a Christian. This smacks more of the traditional leftist larceny of treating Jesus as if he was a Labour MP from the Momentum faction, a sort of Che Guevara of Galilee.

Mr Field knows better than that. As I say, by all accounts he’s a good man, and his attempt to find a link between his faith and his politics is a noble one.

His is a failure of intellect, not character. But good men who know not what they do can do as much harm in politics as bad men who have no doubt of exactly what they’re doing.

Politics against economics

Adam Smith’s wisdom still works – but not in every situation

Even though the scientist Lewis Wolpert sometimes writes silly books explaining why there’s no God, he’s amply qualified to pronounce on his own field.

One of his pronouncements struck a chord with me. Modern science, wrote Prof. Wolpert, always goes beyond common sense.

If so, economics isn’t a science for it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, transcend common sense. Any good housewife equipped with a charge card and a pocket calculator can teach economics better than most professors equipped with pie charts and computer models.

Adam Smith emphasised the commonsensical essence of macroeconomics by writing: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”

A scan of modern history will show that the success of an economy depends on the rigour with which it follows Smith’s dictum. And a slightly deeper scan will confirm the truth of other commonsensical axioms as well.

It’ll show that no economy has ever taxed and spent its way to success. Quite the opposite, it’s tax cuts that invigorate an economy, especially if accompanied by reduced public spending.

Also proved will be another maxim: imposing protectionist tariffs leads to a trade war, with both sides losing. David Ricardo even argued that a country shouldn’t retaliate against another country’s protectionism, for doing so will hurt its own consumers too.

All of this is common sense, pure and simple. Alas, modern economies are neither pure nor simple. Politics gets in the way, sometimes rightly, usually destructively.

And politics is hardly ever, and never merely, commonsensical or indeed rational. It’s kicked from pillar to post by such irrational things as ideology, emotions, resentments. That’s why politics is usually at odds with economics.

Just look at two Anglophone countries: Britain and the US. I’ll start with Britain’s problem first. Or rather two problems: PM Theresa May and Chancellor Phillip Hammond.

In a recent interview, Mrs May nonchalantly mentioned that the NHS is in dire need of an extra £20 billion. To raise that amount she’ll have to raise taxes.

Now Britain’s tax revenues are already close to 35 per cent of national income, which is the highest they’ve been since Harold Wilson’s tenure.

Since only about half of British adults pay taxes, a painstaking number-crunching shows that those unfortunate individuals pay, well, a hell of a lot. How much more will they have to shell out?

I suspect their tax burden will be less in keeping with Arthur Laffer than with Harold Wilson, who cheerfully introduced a top marginal tax rate of 83 per cent on earned income – and 98 per cent on the ‘unearned’ variety.

(A term I detest: a man who works all his life and prudently saves or invests his surplus income has earned this privilege. It’s the fiscal version of double jeopardy: if we can’t be charged twice for the same crime, how come we can be taxed multiple times on the same income?)

The only excuse for this type of state extortion is that Corbyn would be even worse. For, other than the detrimental long-term effect of punishing industry and thrift, the immediate result will be lower, rather than higher, tax revenues.

Former Chancellor George Osborne found it out the hard way, by increasing stamp duty on house purchases, undermining the property market and then watching the Treasury lose hundreds of millions in revenues.

So don’t our politicians know the most elementary economics? I wish it were quite so simple.

They know all that. Some of them even know considerably more. For example, they must be aware that full nationalisation is the costliest and least effective way of providing medical services.

The NHS, whose standards of care are rapidly moving towards the third world, is a bottomless pit into which the nation’s wealth is sliding at an ever-increasing rate.

But that knowledge is purely academic for our politicians. They’re driven by the need to stay in power at any cost, which in Britain still involves winning elections.

This goal is incompatible with uttering a single word against the NHS, which massive propaganda over three generations has turned into a God surrogate, a national totem.

One is allowed to bemoan some inefficiencies of the NHS, but one can’t question the principle behind it on pain of political oblivion.

Saying publicly that the NHS is failing not because it’s run by corrupt people, but because it’s based on a corrupt principle is tantamount to announcing one’s retirement from politics.

And suggesting a switch to a semi-private system, similar to those operating in most Western European countries, would be like advocating cannibalism as a way of providing dietary protein.

Hence neither Mrs May nor any other politician will ever be able to say that increasing the NHS budget is throwing good money after bad. So fine, let’s accept that the extra £20 billion must be found somehow.

But surely squeezing even more money out of working people isn’t the only way? While I wouldn’t dare suggest the truly radical solution of disbanding the NHS, I can easily propose all sorts of extra sources of revenue.

The most obvious one is not paying the £39 billion ransom to the EU. That would serve the additional purpose of Britain recovering some of her erstwhile dignity.

As it is, Mrs May and her emissaries are acting as lowly supplicants, begging their EU masters for concessions and ‘deals’, whereas all the EU wants is to torpedo Brexit by any means possible.

The best deal is no deal, and the £39 billion is its immediate payoff.

Throw £20 billion into the bottomless pit of the NHS, and we can still spend £19 billion on defence and policing, if only to remind people what the state is for.

Add to that the £14 billion we spend annually on foreign aid, some of it to the world’s second largest economy, and we’ll be in clover – rather than the substance we’re in now.

All this is clear-cut: there’s not a grain of economic rationality about the planned hike in taxation. But Trump’s trade war on China is more complicated.

Modern wars, shooting, cold, or economic, are seldom waged for fiscal gain. It’s generally understood that, in purely financial terms, even a victory may well spell defeat.

Yet some wars are just, and they must be fought – man doesn’t live by bread alone, and neither do countries.

There’s no doubt that, by slapping protectionist tariffs on half a trillion’s worth of Chinese imports, President Trump has declared trade war. Neither is it a secret that US consumers will be the poorer for it, in the short term at least.

But then Britain emerged not just poorer but destitute out of the Second World War. Does this mean Hitler should have been given a free rein?

China is run by an evil regime, acting in character. True, it hasn’t yet attacked the US in the old-fashioned military way. But that only means that it has chosen different, economic, offensive weapons.

It was China that fired the first shots in the trade war, by making American goods hard and expensive to sell inside China.

Employing throngs for coolie wages, the regime can undercut any economy employing people unprepared to live on a handful of rice a day. Chinese economic troops are deployed in an aggressive formation, and they’re armed with intellectual properties stolen from the West, especially the US, en masse.

The loot thence realised is laundered through Western financial institutions on a scale only bettered by the Russians. Much of it is used to bolster China’s rapidly expanding armed forces.

The outcome of the present situation is hard to predict in the absence of reliable insight into the minds of Chinese chieftains. It’s possible, though far from guaranteed, that Trump’s measures will force them into a modicum of civilised behaviour.

This isn’t to say I’m advocating the trade war declared by Donald Trump: I simply don’t have enough information for any such advocacy. Nor, for that matter, can I oppose it on any other than general economic presuppositions.

I’m merely suggesting that it’s often unavoidable and sometimes desirable to let politics interfere with economics. Regrettably, general economic principles of good housekeeping can’t be applied indiscriminately – the world is too imperfect for that.

But there’s a major proviso: such latitude should only be given to good, sound politics – not to those springing from politicians’ urge to win elections by pandering to the false idols of modernity.

I’ve heard of diversity, but…

Happily reincarnated Mrs Rajiv Chowdhury, as she is today

The roots of multi-culti diversity go back to Herodotus (b. 485 BC), who wrote that “we must respect other people’s customs”.

A few pages later in the same book he enlarged on that thought: “Burying people alive is a Persian custom”, and neither he nor his readers noticed the continuity blooper.

Or perhaps they did notice but didn’t see anything wrong with that particular custom – those were different times after all, when sensitivity wasn’t yet as finely honed as now.

Since then the Greek’s maxim has emulated the US Constitution by acquiring a number of amendments. People have learned that some foreign customs are more worthy of respect than others and treat them accordingly.

For example, the custom of honouring one’s elders is more respectable than that of stoning adulterers or cremating widows alive with their dead husbands. And the ritual of circumcising boys is more readily accepted than the ritual of circumcising girls.

Over the centuries, such discrimination produced a certain dip in the diversity curve. However, having hit a trough, the curve is now again climbing steeply. Blanket respect for other people’s customs is now so widespread that old Herodotus would feel fully vindicated.

However, the Texan rancher Ted Bukowski finds himself in the time warp where it’s still possible to take a dim view of some manifestations of diversity.

When he saw Rajiv Chowdhury, a man of Indian origin, having his wicked way with one of Mr Bukowski’s cows, he reached for his gun. As someone who once called Texas home for 10 years, I happen to know that such a response is a cherished custom in those parts.

But Mr Chowdhury begged him not to shoot, invoking diversity. The cow, he said, was the reincarnation of his dead wife. He had no doubts on that score because Daisy had the same eyes, smell and taste as the late Mrs Chowdhury.

Since I don’t know many women who’d like being compared to livestock, my natural response would have been to rebuke Mr Chowdhury for his distinct lack of chivalry.

Also, even assuming that Daisy indeed was Mrs Chowdhury reincarnated, perhaps it was ill-advised to mount her in the middle of somebody else’s field in the owner’s full view. I wouldn’t dream of doing that to my wife, and nor would she treat such an attempt with anything other than contempt.

Yet you can see that, although generally negative, my response would be muted and measured. That’s because I’ve dedicated my life to promoting the cause of multi-culti diversity.

Mr Bukowski clearly hasn’t. “I don’t know what those Hindus preach at church,” he said, “but that sure sounds to me like the church of the Devil.”

If he delved into this matter a bit deeper, Mr Bukowski would find that the Hindu place of worship is called a puja, not a church, but that’s a forgivable mistake for a Texan rancher.

But it’s certainly not a mistake Janet Fitzgerald, professor of religious studies at the University of Houston, would make. Commenting on the incident, Prof. Fitzgerald put it in the specific cultural and religious context of Hinduism.

“The man lost his wife last year and possibly was honest when he said he believed the animal was the reincarnation of his dead wife,” she said.

“In Hinduism, sex with animals is not an uncommon theme and many of their deities share half-human, half-animal features,” she explained further.

Had I been present at that interview, I would have remarked that the logical link between bestiality and deities possessing some animal features strikes me as somewhat thin. Gods are there to satisfy our spiritual, not physical, needs, aren’t they?

That would in no way diminish my gratitude for having my knowledge of Hinduism expanded. And not just of Hinduism.

“Certain religions such as Islam also allow sexual intercourse with animals under certain particular conditions,” added Prof. Fitzgerald. “Every situation must be analysed in its proper cultural and religious context.”

Hear, hear, I say. Such situations doubtless include, for example, abducting and raping hundreds of white girls, then running them in prostitution rings.

In our cultural and religious context, that would look like a heinous crime, but to ‘certain religions’ it may be a normal practice, one we must treat with understanding and respect.

As a lifetime champion of diversity, I concur enthusiastically. But I still think Prof. Fitzgerald missed an important point, which brings into question her own commitment to multiculturalism.

Mr Chowdhury wasn’t having “sexual intercourse with animals”. He was having it with his reincarnated wife, who smelled and tasted just like Daisy.

That leaves only one questioned unanswered. How often and how thoroughly does Mr Bukowski wash his cattle?

Oops!

Here’s a test of how well you know Russia.

A Russian plane was shot down accidentally. By Russian allies. Using a Russian SAM. Who’s to blame?

Here’s your multiple choice of answers: a) The IL-20 crew whose plane had no business in those skies, b) Russia’s Syrian allies, whose handling of the Russian S-20 SAM showed neither composure nor the requisite technical skill, c) Russia, which supplied deadly weapons without training her backward allies how to use them properly, d) none of the above.

If you answered d), congratulations. You already know that Russia is never to blame for her woes, big or small.

If there have been continuous food shortages of various severity, it’s bad weather over the last 100 years that’s to blame.

If Russia has always been bossed by tyrants, and since 1917 by ghoulish ones, it’s the fault of the West, consistently united in its hatred of Russia.

If Russia murders 60 million of her citizens, the fault lies with the intolerable pressure exerted by the Russophobic West.

If Russia starts the Second World War as Hitler’s ally, it’s the fault of Britain and France that threatened to join forces with Hitler against Russia.

If Russian tanks smash popular uprisings in Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, it’s to preempt America’s threat to occupy those countries.

If Russia pounces on the Ukraine, ditto.

If Russia always finds herself close to the bottom of every study rating countries for things like corruption, free speech and the rule of law, the fault lies with the authors of the studies who all suffer from psychotic Russophobia.

If most Russians live in penury while the ruling gang amasses offshore billions, it’s Western sanctions that are to blame. And the same destitution before the sanctions went into effect? Shut up, you Russophobe you.

In short, whenever the matter of culpability arises in anything involving Russia, the answer is always the same: anyone other than the Russians.

Now you’ve passed the first part of your Russian knowledge test, see if you can cope with the second one.

The question is: if not Russia, who? Who’s to blame for the deaths of the 15 crewmen aboard the downed Il-20 surveillance plane?

If you know Russia as well as I think you do, there’s only one possible answer: the Jews. At base, all Russia’s troubles are directly or indirectly attributable to the Jews.

They may not be always described as such for appearances’ sake. They may be euphemistically called sharks of Wall Street, capitalists, Zionists or, as in this case, Israelis. But every Russian knows in his heart who lurks behind the euphemisms.

To be fair, it took the Russians an hour or two to start milking that traditional scapegoat. At first, their Ministry of Defence issued a patently ridiculous statement about a French frigate that had supposedly fired a rocket in the same general area.

The French screamed fake news, and the Russians hastily retreated to their trusted fall-back position. It’s the Israelis what done it. The Jews.

You see, the Jews, aka Israelis, had four F-16 fighters flying low-altitude bombing runs over Latakia, a port controlled by Russia’s Syrian allies. At supposedly the same time, the Russian IL-20 was three miles up in the sky spying on NATO communications.

Syrian SAM crews tried to repel the Israeli attack by firing chaotically at everything that flew, displaying the combination of marksmanship, composure and technical mastery for which modern Arab warriors are so justly famous.

The devious Jews, aka Israelis, took advantage of the situation and used the IL as cover, cowering behind it like kidnappers using hostages as a human shield.

That’s how Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, read the situation. Hence he immediately rang his Israeli counterpart and informed him that Russia held Israel “wholly responsible”. “We reserve the right to further countermeasures,” added the irate minister.

A member of the Duma’s defence committee then suggested that the countermeasures might include bombing Israeli air bases, for starters.

The words ‘final solution’ weren’t used, but Israelis’ ears are finely attuned to even the slightest echoes. Fearing a Russian strike, Binyamin Netanyahu rang the Botox Boy and explained the facts of the matter.

Vlad then magnanimously accepted that the incident wasn’t Israel’s fault, just one of those things, a “chain of tragic circumstances”. After all, allowed the Botox Boy, “an Israeli plane did not shoot down our plane.”

True, it didn’t. And if you cast another look at the test above, you’ll see who did, and with what.

In fact, by the time the incident occurred the Israeli F-16s had finished their sortie and returned to base.

But even had they still been in the area, Shoigu didn’t explain how fighters on a nap-of-the-earth raid could have possibly shielded themselves with an aircraft flying at an altitude of three miles.

Of course, Jewish deviousness explains it, but not entirely.

What does explain it entirely is that both the Americans and the Russians have acted irresponsibly in and over Syria, turning the world into a power keg sitting next to a camp fire.

The American irresponsibility goes back 15 years; the Russian contribution is much more recent.

By attacking Iraq in 2003, the Americans set in train a chain of events that have made a looming global catastrophe visible even to a naked eye. The removal of the rulers falling short of the gold standards of US democracy has plunged the area into a bloody chaos that has already cost a million lives – and counting.

(The arrival of hordes of migrants in Europe is the collateral damage, whose full extent is yet to be made clear.)

The next irresponsible act was inviting Russia to join in the fun, supposedly to help NATO fight terrorism. Considering that Russia is the world’s principal sponsor of that activity, that was like asking a poisoner for the antidote.

Russia in her turn has fomented trouble against Western interests wherever such interests manifested themselves. As part of that madcap crusade, the Russians have prolonged and worsened conflicts by putting twentieth-century weapons in the hands of eighth-century fanatics.

The SS-200 SAM system is one such weapon. Developed in the 1980s, it’s the father of the SS-300 and the grandfather of the SS-400.

By today’s standards the SS-200 is out of date, but it does have an electronic ‘identify friend or foe’ system designed to avoid such accidents. The Syrians should have received a signal that the Russian aircraft was ‘friendly’ and held their fire.

However, the Syrians either had switched the system off or simply ignored the signal in the heat of the moment. Up went the missile, down came the plane.

Tragic though the incident is, it’s nothing as compared to numerous other, cataclysmic possibilities. I’ll leave them to your imagination – provided you don’t blame it all on the Jews.