Putin ought to read Euripides

‘Judge a man by the company he keeps’. My friend Vlad ought to have familiarised himself with this Euripidean maxim before attending yesterday’s festivities in China.

Communist China used the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the Second World War to parade its muscle. Over 12,000 soldiers marched through Tiananmen Square, where the same army massacred a peaceful demonstration in 1989.

According to China’s sources, 80 per cent of the military technology on show was brand-new, including missile systems operating from space against groups of aircraft carriers. Reading about it, I heaved a sigh of relief.

Mercifully Britain is safe from this cosmic threat for we have no such groups. After all, a group made up of our solitary carrier would sound shamefully tautological. How Americans feel about this technological breakthrough may be a different matter altogether.

Anyway, it was appropriate that China’s armed forces celebrate in style their triumph of 70 years ago. Defeating imperial Japan is something Chinese communists can take pr…

Ouch! An ice-cold shower has poured down to douse my enthusiasm. For Chinese communists, whose descendants rule the country now, were in effect Japan’s allies, not her conquerors.

It was Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomingtang that fought a guerrilla war against Japan. Mao’s communists were fighting a guerrilla war against Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomingtang, thus helping Japan no end.

It wasn’t China – and certainly not communist China – that defeated Japan, but the combined might of the USA, Britain and, in the last week, the Soviet Union. Therefore for China to hail that victory as her own is downright mendacious.

That’s why Vlad was the only major foreign leader to accept Xi Jinping’s invitation to attend the parade. The Soviet Union doesn’t exist any longer, and the other real victors gave the extravaganza a wide berth.

That, however, didn’t make the government stands empty. Posing next to the grinning Vlad and inscrutable Xi were the leaders of those other countries that made such a decisive contribution to the glorious victory: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Burma, the Congo, Venezuela, Pakistan, Mongolia, Vietnam and Laos.

That should tell Vlad exactly where Russia falls in the pecking order of nations. And it should tip the West to the strategy Vlad is pursuing.

Emulating his role model Stalin, who in 1939 struck an alliance with the other evil power of Europe, Vlad is now hoping to get into bed with the other evil power of Asia.

Having found the hard way that the West, for all its obvious weakness, is unlikely to succumb to Russia’s nuclear blackmail, Putin is hoping to recruit China to his cause.

Hence his recent pronouncements on the essentially Eastern nature of the Russian people and Russia’s historic mission to unite Eurasia under her banners.

Vlad’s retired colleague Gorbachev used to bang on the same theme, when he defied geography by talking about ‘our common European home from the Atlantic to Vladivostok’. But at least Gorby speaking ad orbi didn’t threaten to enforce such a geographic solecism by nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, our social networks are singing hosannas to Putin. One picture catching my eye was of Cameron and Putin together, with the caption asking rhetorically which one of them “cares about his people”.

My answer would be ‘neither’, but the implication was that one of them does, and it isn’t Dave. I have to agree: Putin does care about his people. Except that he defines that group more narrowly than his Western champions think.

Putin’s people are the ruling junta of the KGB/FSB fused with the criminal underworld. That’s why the top one per cent of Russia’s population own 71 per cent of the country’s wealth, as opposed to an average of 32 per cent in Europe.

The ruling elite operates according to the unwritten laws of mafia gangs, with the godfather aware that losing face will be quickly followed by losing his life. And Putin is in danger of losing face over his aggression against the Ukraine.

His idea was to launch a staggered offensive, testing the West’s reaction every step of the way. In Step 1 the West reacted to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 with roughly the same insouciance as it displayed towards Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938.

Thus emboldened, Vlad’s ragtag army of psychotic criminals and regular Russian troops without insignia moved into the eastern Ukraine. Had the West again shrugged its indifference, all of the Ukraine would have been occupied, probably followed by the Baltics.

However, though the West didn’t respond with appropriate resolve, it did respond –  by introducing sanctions and pledging its support for the Ukraine and the three Baltic Nato members.

Vlad stopped and looked around. What he saw was many a KGB caporegime looking at him askance to check if il padrino’s face was still where it should be.

Vlad knew he wouldn’t survive a humiliation. Not only would he lose power but he may not even be allowed to enjoy his ill-gotten billions in quiet retirement, Gorby-style.

This explains the crescendo in his overtures to China, which he hopes will end in the rousing finale of a military alliance. Vlad is reluctant t to take on the West by himself – the military odds don’t look promising even despite the West’s demob-happy lassitude.

I doubt that alliance will ever materialise: China’s interests probably lie elsewhere. Even so, there’s every sign that Putin is gearing up for war. In the good tradition of Soviet leaders, he cares about his people so much that he’s prepared to lose millions of them in pursuit of his own criminal ambitions.










The Pope’s lesson in political theology

Pope Benedict XVI once wrote that the Catholic Church is about to be wiped out – only then to start from the beginning and gradually rise again.

Though His Holiness hasn’t uttered a public word about his Vatican successor, one is in little doubt that he sees him as having more to do with the first part of this prophecy than the second – a view Pope Francis seems eager to justify.

Even his admirers will admit that His Holiness is a man of the Left, a movement whose founding raison d’être was, and its current one remains, waging war on every religious, cultural, social and political vestige of Christendom.

Hence a ‘left-wing Christian’ is to me an oxymoron, a ‘left-wing priest’ even more so, and a ‘left-wing Pope’ more still. That, however, is an inner contradiction for every man to resolve privately.

A pontiff’s personal politics ought to have no more effect on his public mission than his taste in food. He’s there to be the Vicar of Christ, not a political agitator.

The trouble starts when a Pope uses St Peter’s throne to promote a secular political agenda, especially one that’s at odds with the very Christian message he’s supposed to preach. This, I’m afraid, is exactly what Pope Francis has done ever since he first occupied the aforementioned throne.

His actions this summer did nothing to dispel this impression. First, the Pope combined political folly with bad Christianity by recognising a nonexistent ‘State of Palestine’.

By doing so he showed how deep the Church has sunk since 1095, when Pope Urban II blessed the First Crusade. Pope Urban understood something Pope Francis doesn’t: Islam is a mortal enemy not only of Jews but also of Christians.

But even if we narrow our perspective to today and tomorrow, what kind of state will ‘Palestine’ be if it gains statehood? Since the past and present are the most reliable indicators of the future, there’s only one possible answer to that question.

It’ll be a jihadist state so anti-Semitic and anti-Christian that it’ll be committed to the genocide of both Jews and Christians. This state will also be an implacable enemy of the West, and it’ll joyously act as a global terrorist base. As a short-term objective, it’ll do all it can to act on its current promise to ‘drive Israel into the sea’, presumably along with all its inhabitants.

Does His Holiness believe that this kind of state deserves pre-natal recognition? Evidently yes, because his next act this summer was to approve of the Iran nuclear deal.

Unlike the ‘State of Palestine’, the state of Iran already exists, and it already is what ‘Palestine’ will be: virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Western.

Empowering this state to develop nuclear weapons in 10-15 years may well lead not only to a regional holocaust but indeed to a global one, with mushroom clouds popping up all over the world like toadstools after an autumn rain.

What part of this scenario does the Pope like? None, would be my hope. It’s more likely that he simply doesn’t understand the full implications of this agreement. Then why approve it?

As in his recognition of the ‘State of Palestine’, His Holiness didn’t act in a holy or even rational way. He allowed his visceral political views to add poison to his Eucharistic water, thus betraying the mission to which he supposedly dedicated his life.

Not content to encourage diabolical political regimes without, Pope Francis is busily working to compromise the Church from within as well.

The Church, alone among the world’s secular and religious bodies, has always adopted an intransigent, which is to say Judaeo-Christian, position on sexual morality. That’s another thing Pope Francis has set out to destroy by advocating a more ‘liberal’ stance on homosexuality, abortion and divorce.

He tried to push his ‘reforms’ through last October’s Synod Part 1, but was defeated by the real Catholics among the bishops. Now he has announced that he’ll allow priests to forgive women who’ve had abortions.

As my friend the Rev. Peter Mullen has explained so thoroughly, this is doctrinal nonsense. Courtesy of Jesus himself, speaking through the evangelists, priests have always had the capacity to absolve any sins, including this one.

Surely the Pope is familiar with John 20:23 and Mark 3:29, not to mention the subsequent two millennia of Christian tradition? Of course he is. His generous permission for priests to do what they’ve been doing for 2,000 years anyway has nothing to do with dogma or doctrine.

It’s both an emotional cry of a leftie soul and a calculated attempt to soften up Part 2 of the Synod when it reconvenes next month. I do hope that the real Catholic bishops will again stand fast. We don’t want the first part of Pope Benedict’s prophecy to come true too fast.







So did Islam start in Birmingham then?

The carbon dating of the Koran fragments found in a Birmingham library shows that they almost definitely predate Mohammed. And there I was, thinking that Birmingham’s sole contribution to civilisation is Balti cuisine.

Turns out it may well be the birthplace of Islam, invalidating the prior claims of Mecca and Medina. As indirect proof, Birmingham certainly has a greater Muslim population than those two put together, although, unlike them, it also has a smattering of infidels.

Actually, I must admit I had my suspicions before. I used to go to Birmingham quite often, on business (nobody goes there for pleasure), and my impression was that the city was predominantly Muslim. There must be some hidden magnetic force, I thought, attracting Muslims to that part of the Midlands, and it can’t be just the free-spending social.

The impression that Birmingham was mostly Muslim was purely that, an impression, for demographic surveys show that only a quarter of the city’s population espouse Islam. Still, you can understand my error: Muslims somehow stand out in Britain, and seeing so many in one place may easily lead one to infer that they predominate.

Also, now that we know that Islam started in Birmingham and not, as was previously thought, in the Arabian peninsula… oops, sorry. My wife has just looked over my shoulder and pointed out that Birmingham was only founded in 1871, which makes it an unlikely birthplace of Islam, seeing that it has been around for 1,400 years.

Fine, I’m man enough to admit I’ve made yet another error. If it’s an error, that is. Allah, after all, is just the Arabic for God – the same deity that’s accepted as such in both parts of the Bible. I may find Allah an odd name for God, but it’s infinitely preferable to its Russian equivalent, which is Bog. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather pray to God, or even at a pinch to Allah, than to Bog.

But God, whatever you call Him, is outside time. Hence, looking at it from His perspective, it’s possible that a city we think only appeared in the late Victorian era was already up and running circa 568 AD, when the Birmingham Koran was produced.

Hold on, I’ve just spotted a theological flaw in this argument. Yes, God is outside time – but we aren’t. Since we’re strictly temporal, at least in this life, it’s utterly presumptuous even to suggest that we can look at the world through the eyes of Allah, otherwise known as God.

Hence both Birmingham and its Koran exist on a human timescale and can’t possibly overlap. One must grudgingly admit that the distinctly Muslim character of the city must come from a different source – quite possibly from the free-spending social.

Yet the dating of the Birmingham Koran, if it’s reliable, tears a hole in the patchwork quilt of a religion otherwise known as Islam. Its founding tenet is that Allah spoke directly to Mohammed, who then initiated the game of Arab whispers by passing the message on to Abu Bakr, one of his fathers-in-law (since Mohammed had several wives, he must have had several sets of in-laws, and his ability to cope with that arrangement must be seen as divine by anyone who has ever struggled with even one set).

Abu Bakr then passed the good news on to assorted other caliphs and so forth, all the way to Osama bin Laden. This admittedly schematic history of Islam begins to wobble somewhat if it turns out that Mohammed had his epiphany second-hand, and that he more or less cribbed it from a pre-existing document.

That may create a conundrum for Muslims, as the existence of such a document casts a shadow on Mohammed’s claim to be the prophetic primus inter pares. But I don’t doubt for a second that Islamic scholars will handle the problem.

They could, for example, claim not unreasonably that carbon dating isn’t all that precise, and in this case an error of a few years here or there would be enough to reinstate Mohammed’s patent rights.

Or else they may decide to adopt the so-is-your-aunt-Tilly tactic of pointing out that the carbon dating of the Turin Shroud may also be at odds with the claims Christians make for that garment.

Yet such savants will find it difficult, not to say impossible, to deny the synthetic nature of Islam. In fact, they ought to take their cue from Marx and own up to Mohammed’s tendency to borrow from other religions.

Marx honestly identified three ingredients he shook together to produce the heady cocktail of Marxism: German philosophy, mainly Hegel and Feuerbach; British economics, mainly Smith and Ricardo; and French socialism, mainly Saint-Simon and Fourier.

Even if we discard the Birmingham Koran, Mohammed also used three principle sources: Judaism, Nestorian Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Thus he could proudly claim to be a heretic to three major religions, and we aren’t even talking about the minor ones.

But who’s to say that mixing multiple ingredients can’t produce an original concoction? No one, especially not those bar-hoppers who enjoy the unique taste of the odd Mojito, Daiquiri or Long Island Tea.

A note to those intemperate infidels: if you enjoy your cocktails, steer clear of Muslim countries. The Koran, Birmingham or otherwise, says that indulging that taste will get you flogged within an inch of your life.

Let’s send all comedians down the mines

I’m not proposing this drastic measure as a punishment. On the contrary, stand-up comedy is the only popular entertainment I like.

It’s just that comedians will have to make a living somehow after their profession becomes obsolete, as it surely will soon.

Comedy depends for its survival on two preconditions. First, there must be enough people out there whose sense of humour outmuscles their self-righteousness. Second, comedy can only thrive if reality doesn’t overstep the limit beyond anyone’s ability to poke fun at it.

Since neither of these preconditions is met these days, comedians will have to retrain as diversity consultants, sensitivity advisors, social workers, community organisers or anything else seen as indispensable these days.

Not to starve while the training is under way, they may indeed have to support themselves by working down the mines. If they mutter that life is the pits, no one will laugh at the pun.

As an illustration of the first precondition rapidly disappearing, Mike Kusneraitis, a Tory councillor in the Runnymede Borough, is being investigated for the terrible transgression he has committed.

I’m not sure whether the investigation is merely professional or also criminal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were both. So what’s Mike’s crime?

He shared on the net a spoof of the advertising campaign for Carlsberg beer. For the outlanders among you, the actual campaign shows some impossibly wonderful event, with the tagline saying “If Carlsberg did [X], it would probably be the best [X] in the world.

The spoof that got Mike into trouble features the tagline “If Carlsberg did illegal immigrants…” under the picture of a boat densely packed with 14 pretty, stark-naked girls.

Now some will find this joke funny and laugh; some may find it tasteless and wince. Both will have to agree, however, that this is just a joke, and a topical one at that.

Runnymede is after all a borough where Magna Carta codified the rights of Englishmen exactly 800 years ago. Surely one of those rights must have been to be able to laugh with impunity at anything this side of the Holy Spirit.

This right was first established by a source predating Magna Carta: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” Obviously, modernity is less forgiving than Christ.

Some jokes may be in poor taste, some may be funny. Some may be both, as will be confirmed by anyone who has heard that the last thing to go through Diana’s mind was the steering wheel. None, however, would be seen as grounds for prosecution in a world that didn’t think that humour is tasteless or criminal by definition.

As to reality outpacing any humour or satire, this point was put beyond any doubt by the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

The very fact that an institution of higher learning has such a job description on its staff would already place it outside the reach of satire, even if the gentleman in question did absolutely nothing.

But hey, everyone must earn his keep, and the good Vice Chancellor is no exception. Hence he proposed the ‘inclusive practice’ of introducing ‘gender-neutral’ pronouns as a way of “exposing our students to an increasingly diverse and global world.”

Actually a world where no sex distinctions were allowed to survive would be rather the opposite of diverse, but one can’t expect intellectual rigour from a chap in charge of diversity and inclusion.

What one can expect is exactly what one got: the proposal to do away with such offensive words as ‘he’ and ‘she’, along with their derivatives, and replace them with the new ‘gender-neutral’ pronouns ze, hir, zir, xem and xyr.

Donna Braquet, Director of the university’s Pride Centre, whatever that is, agrees wholeheartedly: “It is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. One way to do that is to use a student’s chosen name and their correct pronouns.”

The wording of her drivel proves that the job is already half-done: in a sane world the antecedent ‘a student’s’ would be followed by the possessive pronoun ‘his’, not the ideologically illiterate ‘their’. But, since we’ve allowed PC fascists to impose that harebrained diktat on the world’s greatest language, we must be prepared for ‘ze’ revolution.

There we have the double whammy: PC fascists mangling English in a way that no satire could possibly fathom, and students being brainwashed to be offended by such ‘gender-specific’ fossils as ‘he’ and ‘she’. Comedians have no place in such a world.

There’s nothing we can do about it, other than refusing to use PC pseudolanguage and mocking those who do. The other day I did just that by refusing to use the PC term ‘African American’, as demanded by my interlocutor of the US neocon persuasion.

“Would you call a dog a canine American?” I asked. No smile crossed his self-righteous face. Life is no longer a laughing matter.