Those who ‘understand’ Putin or support him outright (a certain Mail communist comes to mind) may be Right, Left or centre. But they have one thing in common. They lie.
A lie differs from any old falsehood by being knowing and deliberate. Thus the people I’m talking about know the pertinent facts as well as I do. Hence they reach manifestly dishonest conclusions by distorting the facts – knowingly and deliberately. They are liars. They don’t just have a different and equally valid opinion. They lie.
The columnist in question keeps rehashing his lies in a repetitive monotone, doubtless believing that repetition is indeed the mother of all learning. That may be. But it’s also the father of all tedium.
Open today’s Mail, and you’ll get another whiff of that rancid, unpalatable concoction. Old lies with a few curlicues designed to dress them up and make them look different from what they really are. Lies.
Lie 1: Putin’s bandit raid was provoked by the westward expansion of Nato because he feared for Russia’s sovereignty.
That would be valid if Nato had any designs on Russian territory or statehood. But it doesn’t. Rather than threatening Russia’s sovereignty, that purely defensive alliance was set up to prevent Russia from threatening the sovereignty of others.
If anyone understands this not just intellectually but viscerally, it’s the people of Eastern European countries who suffered unspeakable misery at the hands of their Russian slave masters.
When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, they knew something Western analysts didn’t. Whatever their eastern neighbour is called, be that Muscovy, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation, it remains at heart an imperial predator red in tooth and claw.
That’s why Nato didn’t have to coerce or even invite them to join. The moment they found a window of opportunity, they begged for admission – of their own free will. Nato, being an association of free countries, welcomed them.
It’s that F-word, free, that provoked Putin. He doesn’t want Russia to be an East Germany or a North Korea, a poor boy with his nose pressed to the window of a ballroom where free, prosperous people ostensibly no different from the Russians are enjoying themselves.
He has neither the inclination nor the ability to help his own people join the party. The only thing he can try to do is drive a sewage truck up to the window, stick the hose in and drown that metaphorical ballroom with ordure.
Lie 2: Putin was provoked by the ousting of the Yanukovych government (‘putsch’ in the jargon of that Mail columnist), as a result of which the Ukraine became independent de facto, not merely de jure.
Implicitly this is bemoaning the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union and the subsequent sovereignty of each of its 15 constituent republics. Yet Russia has no more right to reclaim ownership of them than Britain has to reclaim sovereignty over the US or, going back further, Aquitaine.
When former colonies break away from the metropolis, there is always some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters. Tough. Once their new status is recognised in international law, there is nothing anyone can do about it – other than naked aggression. Like it or hate it, but there is no legal or moral option other than accepting it.
Yanukovych was a career criminal whose government was both Putin’s puppet and his doppelgänger. It was as thoroughly corrupt, as criminalised and as tyrannical as Putin’s own. Unlike the Russian government, however, it was perceived by the population as a Quisling gang whose real loyalties lay elsewhere.
Hence it was overthrown by a genuine popular uprising, the Ukraine’s first instalment to buy a ticket for the aforementioned metaphorical ball. That’s what Putin – and, alas, his Western stooges – hated. Those who say his grievance is legitimate are liars.
Lie 3: Since our national interests aren’t threatened by Putin’s bandit raid, we have no business arming the Ukraine at the risk of nuclear escalation.
Here I can only repeat what I’ve said before: listen to what evil dictators say. Since they aren’t accountable to anyone, be it parliaments, free press or the people in general, they usually eschew subterfuge.
Lenin, Hitler, Mao all told the world what they were going to do and then scrupulously did exactly that. Westerners didn’t take them at their word because they were used to making allowances for politicians’ pronouncements.
Certain things, they knew, are said just for show, for political effect. Certain promises are made with no intention of keeping them – that’s how the game is played and we all know the rules. Except that evil dictators play a different game, and for them there are no rules.
Putin has said a thousand times if he has said it once that the Ukraine is only the first battlefield of his war on Nato, the EU, the US, the West in general and the whole architecture of the post-1945 world order.
Restoring the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire to its past grandeur will have to follow victories on that and other battlefields, whose exact geography is unspecified but which clearly go beyond the Ukraine.
Poland and other former Soviet colonies got the message. So did Finland and Sweden. Those countries’ memories of what Russia can do are still fresh. Yet the same message falls on the deaf ears of our Putinversteheneren – they continue to lie that this is strictly a domestic fight in which we have no dog.
That lie is sometimes reinforced by the perceptive observation that “we have no common border with the Ukraine.” That too is a lie for the meaning of ‘we’ is maliciously narrowed. It’s our civilisation that has a common border with Russian barbarism. That frontier, and not the Channel, is the demarcation line to our east.
Lie 4: Our intransigence makes Putin resort to nuclear threats.
Those who have followed the Russian media and the pronouncements of Russian politicians for years will know this lie for what it is. A threat of nuclear annihilation is ever-present in Russian rhetoric at every level.
Gleeful descriptions of the US turning into “radioactive ash” and then into the “Stalin Straight” between Canada and Mexico, or of the British Isles sinking to the bottom of the sea are standard fare on Russian TV.
These are complete with animated diagrams showing the trajectory of Russian nuclear missiles from launch to inferno. Masses of technical details are also provided, validating Russia’s capacity for blowing the West to kingdom come.
Putin has even told his subjects not to fear retaliation in kind. Yes, we’ll be destroyed too, he admitted with characteristic frankness. But there’s a difference, comrades… oops, ladies and gentlemen. Those Westerners will go straight to hell, whereas the saintly Russians will join Jesus in heaven.
Such threats haven’t been made publicly since Mao (d. 1976) and Khrushchev (d. 1971). Even they didn’t wave the nuclear cudgel in the later years of their lives, and neither did they invoke theological motifs. Effectively the West hasn’t been threatened with nuclear holocaust for 60 years, since the Cuban crisis.
Hence it’s not our stubbornness that’s responsible for Putin’s threats but the evil nature of his regime. He is trying to blackmail the West, and consequently the Ukraine, into surrender.
Lie 5: We must do all we can to impose peace as quickly as possible.
This requires a revival of my old translation skills, for the liars aren’t saying what they really mean. Since Putin’s hordes have grabbed a great chunk of the Ukrainian territory that, following bogus referendums, they now claim as their own, for the Ukraine to sue for peace now would be tantamount to surrender,
This would mean that the horrendous devastation visited on the Ukraine would have been all suffered in vain. Evil would conquer, emerging emboldened as a result.
The liars want us to withdraw our aid to the Ukraine, leaving her whole population at the mercy of Putin’s murderers, rapists and looters. This is the only way for us to ensure the Ukraine’s capitulation (‘peace’, in the jargon of Putin’s stooges).
Tacitus described such lying legerdemain as “they make a desert and call it peace”. So the concept isn’t new, and neither is sycophantic adulation of evil.