William Joyce, aka Lord Haw-Haw, came back as Graham Phillips, a Putin propagandist in the guise of a British journalist.
When Joyce disseminated Nazi propaganda, Britain was officially at war with Germany. Hence he was tried for treason and hanged in 1946.
(Actually, what really hanged him was one Latin phrase: protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem – ‘protection entails allegiance and allegiance, protection’. Joyce had dual Irish and US citizenship. Yet he travelled to Germany on a forged British passport, meaning he enjoyed the protection of the Crown and hence owed allegiance to it. Since he offered none, he was a traitor. Joyce should have paid attention in Latin classes.)
Britain isn’t officially at war with Russia, but that’s strictly a technicality. Russia is at war with Britain’s ally, whose army has been largely trained and equipped by us. Moreover, hardly an hour goes by without a senior Russian official threatening to annihilate Britain with nuclear weapons.
Hence, though we may not be at war with Russia, Russia is indisputably at war with us. In other words, Russia is our enemy, her propaganda is enemy propaganda, and any British subject disseminating it is a de facto enemy agent.
If Joyce was hanged on a technicality, the technicality of supposed peace between Britain and Russia protects Phillips from prison. But that doesn’t mean he should be allowed to poison the air as he sees fit.
Hence HMG has sanctioned Phillips, even though it had every moral right to try him for treason. But since civilised countries are ruled by law, not moral right, one has to accept that this undeservedly humane punishment is as far as we can go, for the time being.
Actually, Phillips has outdone Joyce, who limited himself to merely broadcasting enemy propaganda. Phillips has also recorded his interrogation of the British-Ukrainian POW Aiden Aslin and other British-born Ukrainian POWs.
He called that video an interview, which it wasn’t, considering that Aslin was in handcuffs. Phillips openly mocked him throughout and called him a mercenary, which Aslin demonstrably wasn’t.
He was a Ukrainian citizen enlisted in the Ukrainian army, and hence subject to the Geneva convention. Phillips’s interrogation of a POW under duress violated that convention, which made it a war crime. In another video, Phillips also jeered a Ukrainian civilian wounded by a Russian landmine and then taken prisoner, or rather hostage.
For eight years now, Phillips has been demonstrating his linguistic prowess by producing verbatim translations of Kremlin propaganda and spreading it in every print and broadcast medium he can get his hands on.
Russia, as unfailingly portrayed by him, is out to liberate Europe from fascism, personified by whatever country Russia pounces on, such as Georgia and the Ukraine. Having said that, Russia is a peaceful country that only resorts to force when sorely provoked by her (and Phillips’s) enemies, specifically Nato and the West in general.
Phillips’s activities have led to his numerous arrests, not only in the Ukraine and Estonia, but also in London, that other hotbed of Russophobia. Those Russophobe bobbies nabbed Phillips for violently disrupting a Georgian Embassy exhibition commemorating the 2008 Russian invasion.
One would think that no decent British journalist would spring to Phillips’s defence, and one would be right. For the British journalist who does defend him is Peter Hitchens.
He describes HMG’s sanctions on Phillips as “spiteful [and] despotic”, since they “rip up his most basic freedoms under Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which forbid punishment without a fair trial before an impartial jury.”
Phillips, according to Hitchens, “has been punished without trial for expressing views which the state does not like.”
Does the British government do that sort of thing? I’m quaking in my Timberlands, for hardly a day goes by that I don’t express views the state doesn’t like. I expect you to bring me food parcels when I end up in gaol.
I’ve looked up the documents so dear to Hitchens’s heart and found no stipulation that they should act as a suicide pact. I’ve also looked at Britain’s history and discovered that fundamental liberties, such as due process, are always put on hold at wartime.
An enemy propagandist is as dangerous as an incoming enemy missile, sometimes even more so. He must be stopped by any means available, and if that can only be done by purely administrative methods, then so be it. I do hope that, after the war is over, Phillips will find himself in the dock.
Hitchens’s affection for British legality is deeply touching, and it would be even more so if it weren’t merely a smokescreen for his devotion to the same cause Phillips is devoted to: Putin’s fascism. Just scan my pieces over the past 10 years and you’ll find a whole Thesaurus of quoted protestations of Hitchens’s love for what he calls “the most conservative and Christian country in Europe.”
Basically, he has been saying exactly the same things as Phillips (see above), but taking care not to froth at the mouth as violently as his protégé does. He is, after all, a mainstream hack.
Logically then, since Hitchens doesn’t regard Russia as an enemy, he describes Phillips’s effluvia not as enemy propaganda, but as a courageous expression of dissident views. Implicitly that confers reflected glory on Hitchens himself, who likes to portray himself as a maverick bravely swimming against the tide of majority opinion.
However, when majority opinion is anti-fascist, compulsion to be original is morally defunct and intellectually feeble. In wartime, it may also be illegal, and both Phillips and Hitchens should pray that Britain is never at war with Russia officially – as she already is unofficially.