One thing you could say for Muslims is that they don’t scare easily. We nowadays aren’t made of such stern stuff, and it’s really the West that’s supposed to be scared by Putin’s scare tactics.
There’s a Russian slang word bespredel. Roughly translated as a ‘no limiter’, it denotes a chap who can respond to gentle jostling by sticking a pencil into your eye, hit you with a brick for an askance glance, push you under a bus for not stepping out of his way.
Anyone, especially a smallish lad, growing up in an inner-city Russian street, learns how to steer clear of ‘no limiters’ – and also how to look like one himself. Even a bigger brute wouldn’t want to mess with someone whose brutality knows no bounds.
By his own admission, Putin grew up as “a common Petersburg thug”, and that’s how he survived in a world dominated by bigger and stronger thugs. This explains the bespredel brutality of his bombing campaign in Syria.
A week ago a UN aid convoy was attacked from the air and destroyed, killing 20 people. Stephen O’Brien, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that “if this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime.”
Putin’s Goebbelses immediately disclaimed any responsibility, and they were supported by his Western poodles, who immediately declared that there was no proof that the war crime was committed either by the Russians or their Syrian allies.
Yes, there is, gentlemen: two fragments of Russian-made bombs were found and identified on the site. These are fin parts of the fragmentation blockbuster OFAB-250-270, the unguided bomb produced in the Soviet Union and now in Russia.
Wide use of these bombs by both Russians and their Syrian allies is amply documented. NATO air force doesn’t drop such weapons from either its piloted aircraft or Predator drones.
Thus the only question still unanswered is whether the responsibility lies with Putin or Assad, which in this context is a distinction without a difference. “It’s definitely not the coalition,” said John Thomas, US Air Force spokesman, and there isn’t a shadow of doubt that he’s right.
Such crimes aren’t meant to achieve military objectives. They’re designed to scare the world into submission or at least acquiescence. Putin is acting out Lenin’s helpful pronouncement that “the purpose of terror is to terrorise”.
To that end the Russians are using munitions, most of them banned by international conventions, designed to make the world shudder first and then tremble. Napalm, phosphorus and cluster bombs serve that purpose nicely, as do thermobaric weapons such as the TOS-1A, which have also seen the light of day in Syria.
Putin must reserve a warm spot for the TOS, a giant flame thrower. It was mainly this weapon that wiped out Chechnya’s capital Grozny in 1999, during the war that announced Putin’s arrival on the world stage, and indeed was started specifically for that purpose.
As a pretext, the KGB blew up several blocks of flats in Russia and blamed the explosions on the Chechens. Those interested in the details should read the book Blowing Up Russia: the Return of the KGB. Its co-author Alexander Litvinenko drew literary criticism in the form of Polonium-210, which indirectly proved his point.
It was then that the more perceptive Russians knew that the reign of bespredel was again upon them. If the KGB junta could blow up innocent people in their flats, imagine what it could to those who have the temerity to resist them. There’s no limit.
Such is the origin of Putin’s popular support that so impresses his Western fans. Such also is the origin of his subsequent emboldened conduct, something he learned as a “common Petersburg thug”: see what you can get away with first and then up the ante gradually.
It has taken Western observers longer to cotton on, and some still haven’t done so. But even those who realise that Putin’s aggression is being ratcheted up aren’t sure what can be done about it.
Yet the same street that teaches the advantages of coming across as bespredel also teaches how to counter the thug. Reason and negotiations won’t work – only a punch on the nose will, followed by as many other punches as it takes to get the message across.
The West has a bigger stature than the street thug that’s Putin’s Russia – it must also show that it has a bigger heart. We must build up not only our muscle but also our morale. Only this can prevent cataclysmic conflict, showing the ‘no limiter’ that he has reached his limit. Like Job, we must say “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further”.
But first we must understand what we’re dealing with: bombs kill Syrians to scare us. If we do show fear instead of resolve, the bespredel thug may well plunge the world into catastrophe.