Gee… no, G20

There’s something about those summits that brings out the worst in politicians, not that it’s ever deep beneath the surface.

First, Trump had a long talk with Vlad, half of which was devoted to the delicate subject of Russian hacking. Vlad assured his friend Donald that no attempt had been made to affect US elections by that expedient. That’s all right then, nodded Trump. A KGB officer would never lie.

He then proposed to join forces with Vlad to create a cyber security zone, which is like putting a pathological arsonist in charge of the fire brigade. The idea was so palpably asinine that Donald promptly abandoned it the next day, with his fellow Republicans screaming abuse and screwing their index fingers into their temples.

Then Brigitte’s foster son took the stage. When Manny was elected president of France, I desperately looked for something decent hiding behind his veneer of self-important, jumped-up nonentity.

At first, the search was rewarded: unlike Fillon, who respected Putin’s leadership qualities, and Le Pen, who was kept by Putin like a two-bit whore, Manny was mildly critical of the KGB gangster.

But then they met at the G20 in Hamburg and sparks flew. One of them ignited Manny’s hitherto pent-up desire for an open dialogue with Putin. For Manny’s eagle eye discerned kinship and commonality of interests.

In a subsequent interview he first warmed up by reiterating his commitment to stopping both terrorism and global warming. There’s no point fighting one without fighting the other, Manny said, clearly implying a causal relationship.

He didn’t explain which caused which, but then there was no need: Prince Charles once traced the roots of Muslim terrorism to global warming. One would think that as a republican Manny wouldn’t feel duty-bound to repeat all the drivel uttered by our royals, but perhaps he’s a vicarious monarchist at heart.

Or else he misunderstood what Brigitte had told him to say. Pay attention in class, Manny, or you’ll be marked down.

Having thus spun two seemingly unrelated issues, Manny continued on the subject of terrorism. The thrust of his oration was the same as in every speech by Trump: without Putin’s help the West is helpless. This premise is false on more levels than one can find in Trump Tower.

First, if the combined military might of the West is insufficient for exterminating terrorists and punishing their supporters, we might as well all pack up and go home: the West is no more.

Second, Putin’s kleptofascist junta itself presents the greatest terrorist threat to the world. Its rabid attack on the Ukraine alone has produced more victims, by an order of magnitude, than all the recent Muslim shenanigans in Europe combined.

But it wasn’t the Ukraine alone. True to its KGB roots (85 per cent of Russia’s ruling elite come from that background, according to official sources), the junta pounces on everything and everyone vulnerable, be it Chechnya or Georgia, Syria or any meaningful political opposition, whose members are routinely murdered not only in Russia but also abroad.

Most critical, Putin’s junta is indulging in the kind of brinkmanship all over the world, most spectacularly in the Middle East and the Baltics, that has made nuclear holocaust more likely than at any time since the Cuban crisis.

Therefore seeking Putin’s help in fighting terrorism is like asking Kim Jong-un to support nuclear non-proliferation, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to promote religious tolerance or Dr Shipman to advise on care for the elderly.

But Manny doesn’t realise this. Neither does he realise that every word he uttered in that interview blithely repeated Putin’s own propaganda:

“What inspires Putin to act? The desire to revive the image of a strong leader capable of holding his country in his hands.”

To bring Stalin back as a role model, in other words. Here Manny isn’t far wrong: rather than the murderer of 61 million of his own subjects and enslaver of the rest, Stalin is being extolled in Russia as an effective, if at times stern, manager, the father of his people and the victor in the great war (which he himself started as Hitler’s ally, but that part of it isn’t emphasised). Plaques to the memory of one of history’s most evil men are being restored all over Russia, his portraits adorn hundreds of rallies, panegyrics to him are heard on every Russian TV channel.

One would think that the president of a country that has liberty inscribed on its escutcheon would respond to this development with something other than affectionate understanding. But do let’s proceed to the next couple of sentences.

“Russia herself is a victim of terrorism. He [Putin] also has on his borders rebels and brutal religious groups threatening the country. That is his main concern, in Syria included.”

The first sentence is absolutely right. Russia is indeed a victim of terrorism, and has been since 1917. It’s the terrorism perpetrated by its ‘strong leaders’, whose fine legacy Putin is seeking to develop.

As to the rebels, Manny was presumably referring to the victims of two centuries of Russian brutality in North Caucasus, with the most recent, and some of the worst, crimes committed by Putin’s own troops. And it takes some dialectical chicanery to link those few remaining resistance fighters to Syria, where Putin is clearly fighting not terrorists but the West.

“Putin’s task,” continued Manny in the same vein, “is to revive Great Russia, which to him is essential to his country’s survival. Is he seeking to weaken or destroy us? I don’t think so.”

Great Russia means Stalin’s Russia, which inexorably follows from every word coming out of the mouths of Putin’s propagandists and his own. How this is essential to the country’s survival isn’t instantly obvious. It’s easier to imagine how rabid attacks on the whole civilised world may put Russia in existential danger.

Also, unlike the economy, geopolitical power is a zero-sum game. If en route to becoming great again Russia gains more of it, the West will have less. The West will thereby be weakened vis-à-vis its deadliest current enemy. But I do agree that Vlad doesn’t wish to destroy the West: he and his fellow gangsters need a secure laundry for their purloined billions.

And the upshot of it, Manny? “Vladimir Putin has his own take on the world.” [That’s for damn sure.] “He thinks that to him Syria is a vitally important neighbour.” [The last time I looked at the map, Russia and Syria aren’t exactly neighbours, but perhaps Manny, being a socialist, uses the word dialectically].

“What can we do? Cooperate on Syria to fight terrorism and find a true way out of the present crisis. I believe this is possible.”

Gee, Manny, a few more performances like this, and Brigitte will send you to bed without supper. Use your head, lad, concentrate – and do your homework.

2 thoughts on “Gee… no, G20”

  1. But Manny is making progress. He mastered Stage 1 : talk vague meaningless nonsense (Trish talk). Stage 2 isn’t that hard either: lie through your teeth (Blair talk).

  2. “What can we do? Cooperate on Syria to fight terrorism and find a true way out of the present crisis….”. Decoding this is problematic! Who is “we”, and who is “cooperating”, and what action is involved in “the true way”?

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