Even a broken clock gives the right time twice a day, says the folk wisdom. By the same token, even evil men may occasionally say something true – but with one important proviso:
Such men may tell the truth, but they’ll never tell the whole truth or nothing but the truth.
My friend Vlad is a case in point. His speech at the UN General Assembly caused a ripple of laughter in the audience every time this rapist of the Ukraine, serial murderer and gangster appealed to the sanctity of international law.
That was like Hitler insisting on his commitment to racial equality, Dr Shipman stressing the importance of proper care for the elderly or Jeremy Corbyn publicly dedicating his life to the monarchy in general and the Queen in particular, God bless her.
Yet I can’t fault Vlad’s comments on the reasons for the Middle Eastern carnage much as I’d like to. Taking issue with his conclusion that Russia should be trusted to sort things out is much easier, and I’ve done so a few times over the last fortnight.
Vlad the Broken Clock was absolutely right when blaming the West, as embodied by Dubya, Barack, Tony and Dave. But for the criminally stupid 2003 foray into Iraq and Afghanistan, violence in the Middle East would not have reached endemic – and potentially global – proportions.
The West’s keenly felt urge to unseat Middle Eastern dictators because they don’t subscribe to the principles enshrined in the US Constitution could only have come from the triple whammy of modern politics: Idiocy, Ignorance and Ideology.
The ideology of democracy über alles is as vile as any other – nothing but God and his commandments are über alles. Everything else must be based on pragmatic judgement, which in this case should have told our spivocrats that in politics there exists such a useful concept as choosing the lesser evil.
That’s why, rather than chasing the democratic pie in the Middle Eastern sky, they ought to have realised that the only possible alternative to such tyrants as the Shah of Iran, Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad et al wasn’t a presidential democracy complete with a bicameral congress and baseball Little Leagues but… well, exactly what we have now.
Incidentally, the same Triple-I feeblemindedness is applied retrospectively to judging historical personages, such as Francisco Franco. Il Caudillo certainly didn’t have wings on his back and, by the standards of the Doctors of the Church or even most US presidents, he was rather rough around the edges. But in 1936 the only available alternative to Franco was neither one of the Doctors of the Church nor even one of the US presidents. It was Stalin.
Had the wrong side won, Spain today would be like Romania. Hence Franco’s victory made him his nation’s saviour, not the ‘fascist’ of the bien pensant fantasy. The same logic fully applies to the Middle Eastern tyrants.
That’s essentially what Vlad the Broken Clock was saying, and for once he was right. Obama, however, endorsed the Triple-I approach to foreign policy in so many words. We should never “support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad,” he said, “who drop barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.”
This ignores what’s obvious to any sane person: there are only three things the West can do in Syria. One, nothing. Two, support Assad. Three, support Isis.
Since, thanks to the Triple-I actions of the past, doing nothing is no longer an option, and Obama himself acknowledges that the alternative to Assad is “surely worse”, then supporting Assad is the only course of action that’s morally tenable and indeed mathematically possible.
Where Vlad proves that his clock is broken after all is in his attempt to use the mayhem as a hoist raising himself to a dominant position in the region. That’s like a doctor correctly diagnosing a chronic migraine and then prescribing potassium cyanide to treat it.
Russia’s domination of the Middle East would have worse strategic consequences for the West than any other possible outcome. Applying to the situation the same irrefutable logic that’s evidently beyond Obama, Putin’s kleptofascist regime calling shots in the region is the cyanide used to treat a headache.
How wrong do we have to be to make someone like Putin sound right on anything? My first impulse is to say, as wrong as wrong can be. But that would be underestimating our leaders’ talent for expanding the limits of folly towards infinity.
So things are going to get worse – before they get worse still.