Before people say something nasty about you, say it yourself and make it sound ridiculous.
Peter Hitchens works this confidence trick to perfection, to preface every sycophantic piece he writes about Putin and his kleptofascist regime.
The latest sample was served the other day: “Speaking as a Kremlin stooge (this silly phrase is applied to everyone who doesn’t join in the current wild anti-Russian panic)…”
England being a residually free country, he can define a Kremlin stooge any way he pleases. But then so can I, and my definition is different from his.
A hack is a Kremlin stooge if he acts as a consistent mouthpiece for pro-Putin propaganda. Whether he does so as a paid agent of influence or an enthusiastic volunteer makes no moral difference.
Any sane person would have to agree that, knowing all we know about Putin’s Russia, only a Kremlin stooge like Hitchens would describe it as “the most conservative, patriotic and Christian country left in Europe”.
This is spoken of a country whose principal commercial activity is global money laundering; one that imprisons, maims and murders political opponents; suppresses most civil liberties; pounces on its neighbours like a rabid dog; turns the church into a department of the secret police; wages an all-out hybrid war on the West.
So the ruse of Hitchens’s introductory paragraph didn’t work, at least not on me. The stain of being a Kremlin stooge can’t be washed off by cheap verbal trickery.
What followed isn’t worth reiterating for any reason other than reinforcing my belief that, once a communist, always a communist.
Hitchens prides himself on being open about his political past. However, when one’s past leaves an indelible mark, it’s no longer just past: it’s also present and future.
In this case, he employs the old Leftist trick of exonerating the Soviets by appealing to ‘moral equivalence’. You know, they have the KGB, we have the CIA and MI6; they’ve murdered millions, the CIA tried to poison Castro; they run concentration camps, but it’s the British who invented them.
This is how Hitchens applies this Leftist larceny to the present: “No doubt Russian intelligence sometimes does wicked things, and also makes a fool of itself. But shouldn’t we be examining our own spy and security services before squeaking piously about others?”
What, our spies also do wicked things, and sometimes do them badly? Agreed.
But first, Western intelligence services practise wickedness on a vastly smaller scale – witness the nonagenarian George Blake, roaming the streets of Moscow unmolested by British hitmen.
And second, however deplorable our spies’ wickedness and ineptitude may be, at least they have the excuse of trying to defend our freedoms – which Hitchens’s Russian friends seek to undermine.
My hero then goes on to prove that no truth can be uttered in defence of a lie, and nothing intelligent can be said in support of a stupid proposition.
Addressing “the current wild anti-Russian panic”, Hitchens proves that point by making a statement as mendacious as it is idiotic:
“My advice in all such matters is ‘Calm down, dear’. Russia is in no position to attack us. Its economy is the size of Italy’s and failing badly.”
That’s like saying that British drivers are incapable of speeding. But they do speed, don’t they?
Likewise, Russia is attacking us already, although not yet by securing a bridgehead in Kent. The attack follows one leg of the hybrid strategy first developed by Gen. Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff.
Inundating Britain (and other Western countries) with millions of fake, disruptive messages; hacking into the computer systems of political parties and military structures; sowing panic and discord by disinformation on things like GM crops and vaccines – all this is part of the strategy outlined by Gen. Gerasimov.
Add to this ‘active measures’ on British territory, such as assassinations of British subjects with nuclear and chemical weapons, and we’re looking at a systematic offensive aimed at us and our allies.
None of this is an unsupported accusation. The governments of Britain, US, Holland and other Western countries provide plenty of hard evidence, complete with agents’ names, along with the SVR and GRU departments they represent.
Thus the GRU’s Unit 26165 has been traced as the source of the 2016 US election hack, malware assaults and ‘close proximity’ cyber-attacks in Holland.
That’s the mendacious part of Hitchens’s effluvia. Now the stupid part, one about Russia being in no position to attack us militarily because her economy is small.
One can infer that our strategist equates the size of a country’s economy with her capacity for waging war. Presumably, therefore, Alaric’s Visigoths were more prosperous than Rome, for otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to sack it.
Closer to our time, the Soviet economy in the 1930s featured famines killing millions, which didn’t prevent Stalin from building the largest and best-equipped army the world had ever known.
Hitchens’s strategic insights lead to an ineluctable conclusion. Since, say, Germany boasts a bigger economy than Russia, she could wipe the floor with Russia one on one.
So could Britain and France, whose economies are also bigger than Russia’s. Either country, never mind the two of them together, could show Putin what’s what.
This ignores the fundamental difference between us and Russia. Western countries, even such demonstrably nasty ones as Nazi Germany, can’t do what Russia can: dedicate most of their resources to the military.
Thus the Soviet economy was put on a war footing in the late 1920s.
All Soviet factories began to work in three shifts around the clock 10 years before a Soviet soldier fired a shot in anger (millions of shots were fired into the heads of recalcitrant Soviets, but not by soldiers and not in anger).
By contrast, Hitler’s economy was put on a war footing only in 1943 – when the country had been at war for four years. Until then all the talk of ‘guns before butter’ was just that, talk.
It would take too long to compare the relative military strength of Europe’s three leading economies and Russia across all categories.
But one weapon category, tanks, should give you a reliable glimpse of the overall picture. Tanks, after all, are predominantly offensive weapons, acting in the same capacity as cavalry used to in times olden.
Russia boasts 15,500 tanks in active service (and untold thousands of older models mothballed until the time of need). By contrast, the three biggest European armies, French, German and British, have, respectively, 423, 408 and 407 tanks.
And when Europe still hasn’t recovered from its post-perestroika demob happiness, Russia is pumping untold billions into new weapon systems, including strategic armaments.
But fear naught: all three countries make more fluffy loo paper, each roll contributing to their vast GDP that puts Russia to shame and renders her impotent.
Moreover, few Russians eat balanced diets and practically none can afford a new car every couple of years. Who says we should be on our guard against bellicose thugs with lean and hungry looks?
I’d still suggest we try to counteract the information weapons Putin deploys in preference to ICBMs for the time being. One such weapon is called Peter Hitchens.