One wonders what, short of a Russian air attack on Western capitals, would make Putin’s Western admirers shut up.
Prime among them is Peter Hitchens, who has an almost homoerotic longing for a ‘strong leader’. In his younger years he venerated Trotsky; now it’s Putin’s turn.
Hitchens has been singing tuneless hymns celebrating the KGB colonel for several years now, and the volume of said performances is unaffected by any cannibalistic act perpetrated by his idol.
(I mentioned a few random examples the other day, absentmindedly leaving out many others, such as Putin’s unprovoked aggression against Georgia in 2008.)
Thus he absolves Putin’s clique of any guilt for the vicious attack on the Ukraine, of which the 298 victims of a SAM, fired by Putin’s troops or proxies, are the most widely publicised casualties.
The logic Hitchens applies to the whitewashing task is staggering in its inanity, and his piece in this week’s Mail on Sunday provides a perfect sample of it.
He starts with a manifestly false statement: “In any war, the aggressor is the one who makes the first move into neutral or disputed territory.”
This may have been true 300 years ago, and even there one could argue that this view of casus belli is simplistic. Applied to modern conditions, it’s simply spurious.
This logic dictates, to cite a current example, that the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza don’t constitute an act of aggression, but Israel’s resultant self-defensive ground offensive into enemy territory does.
But let’s be kind and accept Hitchens’s schoolboyish definition of aggressor. Surely then it’s Putin’s Russia that’s guilty of aggression against the Ukraine?
Technicalities apart, it’s Putin’s troops (or proxies) that occupied the Crimea, a legitimate if relatively recent part of the Ukraine’s territory. Wasn’t that ‘the first move’?
And what about the subsequent move into the east of the country? Doesn’t it tally with Hitchens’s definition of aggression? Of course it does.
However, ideologues never let facts obscure their line of vision. Hence, while insisting on his definition of aggression, Hitchens claims that its perpetrators ought to be sought elsewhere:
“And that aggressor was the European Union, which rivals China as the world’s most expansionist power, swallowing countries the way performing seals swallow fish (16 gulped down since 1995).”
Now Hitchens dislikes the European Union, as do I and most intelligent people of my acquaintance. But it’s silly to blame this admittedly vile entity for all our ills, such as the storms we’ve been having for the last few days, my current ache of tennis elbow and Putin’s attack on a sovereign European state.
Expansionist the EU may be, but it’s a serpentine seducer, not a rapist. It doesn’t yet launch military offensives to draw countries into its orbit. It more or less bribes them with our money.
The countries, however, retain freedom of choice. They can either join or refuse to do so. Those stupid or desperate enough opt for the former, those sage and farsighted enough for the latter.
It’s sheer dishonesty to equate an invitation or even enticement to join the EU with military aggression. The first may have been hasty and irresponsible; the second is criminal.
By way of an analogy, imagine a girl living in a bad neighbourhood where it’s unsafe to walk after dark. Her friends living a few streets away invite her to a party, and the girl accepts even though she can only get to the party on foot.
She goes out and is raped. Who’s to blame for it? One could say it’s her own fault – she should have known better than to walk at night wearing a revealing party frock.
The people who invited her, without making sure she could get to their place safely, aren’t guiltless either. Nor are the police and the city council whose responsibility it is to make our streets free of crime. One could even use the standard defence of ‘it’s all society’s fault, gov’, a phrase our criminals seem to learn before they can say ‘Mum’.
But it takes moral idiocy of epic proportions not to see that the party most responsible for this vicious crime is the degenerate thug who raped the girl.
In this analogy, the Ukraine is the girl who should have been more cautious, the EU is the party host who issued the invitation but didn’t bother to escort the girl through the mean streets, Putin is the rapist – and Hitchens is the moral idiot who can’t tell the difference.
Moreover, he directly blames the Ukraine for the rape she has suffered. She herself provoked the crime by having got rid of Putin’s puppet installed to steer the Ukraine back into the Soviet Union Mark 2 Putin is putting together:
“It did so through violence and illegality, an armed mob and the overthrow of an elected president.” Hitchens’s moral compass is going haywire because it’s too close to his magnet of ‘strong leader’.
Ukrainians, whose parents and grandparents were deliberately starved to death in their millions by the very organisation Putin is currently spearheading, tried to break free of their de facto bonds of vassalage. Violent overthrow of the puppet Yanukovych government was the only way of doing so, what with Putin and his stooges being past masters at rigging elections.
It’s for this that Hitchens feels the Ukraine must be raped and her violator exculpated. How dare they rebel against the kind of ‘strong leader’ Russia is blessed with and we so lamentably lack in our own country?
Hitchens illustrates the point I make often: converts from communism are always suspect, especially if they saw the light in their mature years. If a grown-up man feels it’s justifiable to murder, torture and enslave millions for the sake of an abstract idea, he isn’t just mistaken. He’s fundamentally flawed.
Eventually he may change his views, or profess to have done so. But the basic flaw will remain, and sooner or later it’s reveal itself.
Col. Putin unwittingly agrees with me. When once described as ex-KGB, he objected: “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB. This is for life.” The same evidently goes for an ex-Trotskyist.