The plot sickens. More and more fans of Putin are coming out of the woodwork with pathetic attempts to justify the latest WMD attack on British soil.
They stop at nothing: lies, falsified facts and the kind of syllogisms that would have had a student drummed out of a decent university when we still had decent universities.
The most popular syllogism goes like this. Thesis: Putin does bad things. Antithesis: we do bad things. Synthesis: ergo, Putin is better than us or, in any case, we have no moral right to object to his murdering anyone on British soil.
Let’s start by accepting that Britain, the US and just about everyone else in His creation are deeply flawed. So stipulated, as a QC would say.
Perfection is unattainable in this world, but there still exist degrees of imperfection. For example, stealing a loaf of bread is bad, but murdering an old woman for her pension money is worse. Equating the two is called moral equivalence, which betokens an infirm grasp on both morality and the very notion of equivalence.
I recall speaking to the faculty of a London university, and only pedantry prohibits me from describing members of that august body as rank communists.
They took exception to my branding communism as murderous and evil. What about the Inquisition, they asked with that QED expression on their faces. They burned people alive, didn’t they?
True, I said. In the 400 years it was in business the Inquisition immolated about 10,000. The most accurate estimate of communist murders is 61 million in about 45 years – and that’s in the Soviet Union alone.
There’s no difference, they said. And if I say there is, I’m guilty of moral relativism.
I’m not, I countered. I’m only guilty of arithmetical relativism in that I think that killing 1.3 million people a year is more than killing 25 people a year – although I do agree that, on general principle, burning people isn’t nice.
In the same spirit I agree with our useful idiots when they list all the rotten things Britain has done since the Roman conquest, and especially in the last few decades. Moreover, I happily add a few of my own.
This can be verified by tapping ‘Major’, ‘Blair’ or ‘Cameron’ into the search feature on this blog – or better still, at least from my publishers’ viewpoint, reading any of my books, starting with How the West Was Lost.
I do think that our modern governments have perverted Britain’s greatest gift to mankind, her political system. As a result, we’ve done many things I regard as wrong and, especially in Blair’s case, some I regard as criminal.
However, the optimist in me believes that everything perverted can be unperverted, even if the realist in me demurs. For things to be perverted, they have to be good to begin with, which leaves room for backtracking to the starting point.
Since Putin’s useful idiots see themselves as British patriots, they probably don’t think that our system of government is evil in se, even if it has done some bad things.
However, by any standards of political evil, Putin’s regime is just that: evil through and through. Let me list some of its more endearing achievements for the benefit of slow learners.
According to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, Putin’s loyal sociologist and Duma member from his party, 84 per cent of Russia’s ruling elite, including of course Col. Putin himself, are unrepentant KGB officers. (“There’s no such thing as ex-KGB,” Putin once explained.)
In other words, they are members of the same criminal organisation that ran up the aforementioned list of victims. To emphasise their lack of repentance, they continue to act in character.
The mummy of Lenin, under whom people were murdered at a brisker rate than even under Stalin, still adorns Red Square. Hundreds of statues of Stalin are going up all over Russia, and in some Russian churches his portraits are used as icons.
This is part of our history, explains Putin, to be cherished even if “some mistakes” were made. Quite. And Hitler is part of German history – yet somehow one doesn’t see much Hitler memorabilia in Germany’s squares.
To dispel any suspicions that this is just a matter of antiquarian value, the regime acts in character, with one added detail. Stalin’s regime discouraged organised crime rather terminally, while Putin’s junta is fused with it.
That started with his first political job. When the KGB assigned Putin as Vice Mayor, in effect watcher, to Petersburg’s Mayor Sobchak, he went into business. In 1992 the Council commission headed by Marina Salye investigated Vlad’s record.
Among other choice bits, the resulting dossier shows that Putin signed deals to export $100 million worth of raw materials in exchange for food. The raw materials dutifully left Russia. No food came back in return – this at a time of rationing in Petersburg.
When in due course Putin got into the Kremlin, he quickly expanded his scale by creating history’s first ruling elite fusing secret police and organised crime.
Russia’s natural resources, the richest in the world, had already been sold at derisory prices to Yeltsyn’s cronies, but there was still a lot left. Putin began to dispossess those oligarchs who were insufficiently loyal to him – and reward his own hangers-on, with the amounts involved reflecting the new-fangled oligarchs’ proximity to the throne.
In short order everyone close to Putin – his friends, family, judo partners, KGB colleagues, bodyguards, cooks – became billionaires. And they didn’t keep their money in Russia, wisely realising that their ill-gotten lucre wouldn’t survive a regime change.
By a modest estimate, a trillion of well-laundered dollars is now sitting in US banks, with about as much again elsewhere – this when, by the Russian government’s own estimate, 14 million people are living below the poverty line, drawn at about £200 a month.
(One particularly idiotic useful idiot wrote to me yesterday, listing Putin’s achievements. Among them was his putting a stop to the flight of capital out of Russia, leaving me to ponder whether it’s ignorance, cretinism or paid advocacy.)
Putin’s own wealth is estimated within a broad range of anywhere between 20 and 250 billion dollars, and it probably gravitates toward the high end.
After all, according to Western and Russian investigators, Putin owns 4.5 per cent of the world’s largest gas producer Gazprom, 37 per cent of the oil company Surgutneftegas and a majority interest in Gunvor, the world’s fourth largest oil trader.
Until recently, Gunvor operated in Switzerland under the leadership of Putin’s confidant Gennady Timchenko, lovingly nicknamed ‘Gangrene’ in some quarters. But Gangrene hastily sold his shares a couple of days before Western sanctions went into effect – forewarned is forearmed.
Still, I wish it were only green money. Alas, it’s also red blood.
Putin’s grip on power was consolidated by the Second Chechen war, yielding at least 160,000 deaths. This was precipitated by his sponsoring organisation blowing up several residential blocks in Russia and blaming it on the Chechens. For details, I recommend the book Blowing Up Russia, co-authored by Alexander Litvinenko, who later fell victim to an extreme form of literary criticism.
Thus inaugurated, Putin’s regime proceeded apace, systematically tightening the screws. Some 300 journalists have disappeared or have been murdered since 1993, most of them on Putin’s watch. Uncountable others have been harassed, beaten up or maimed.
Numerous political opponents of Putin have been murdered too, with opposition leader Boris Nemtsov spectacularly shot 50 yards from the Kremlin wall. This activity transcends Russian borders, as Messrs Litvinenko, Perepelichny, Skripal and many others (not all of them Russians) could testify.
In parallel, independent media have been suppressed, and even anti-Putin on-line magazines have been blocked. Taking their place is the most revolting propaganda I’ve ever seen, and I lived in the Soviet Union for the first 25 years of my life.
If you search ‘Soloviov’ or ‘Kisilev’ on my blog, you’ll find quotations that’ll make your hair stand on end – and this is standard fare, poured on the Russians round the clock, especially on TV. Lately, Putin’s Goebbelses have been inviting token dissidents on their shows and then encouraging the loyal guests to attack them physically. Nice.
No free press means no free elections. And anyway, didn’t Putin’s role model Stalin say that what matters isn’t how votes are cast, but how they’re counted?
So far I haven’t even mentioned Putin’s aggressive wars against Georgia and the Ukraine, with the latter claiming at least 10,000 lives, nor his shooting down Malaysian Flight 17 airliner, killing all 298 aboard. Nor have I brought up his indiscriminate bombing of Syria, with hospitals and schools being intended targets, rather than unfortunate collateral damage.
All in all, I struggle to think which criterion of political evil Putin’s junta doesn’t meet. But I’m sure his useful idiots have their own logic – of the sort that would make a reasonably clever 10-year-old blush.