It’s no wonder Putin and Johnson have formed an alliance against Dave. The two men have so much in common, it’s eerie:
Both have Russian names.
Both used to belong to exclusive clubs, Boris to the Bullingdon, Vlad to the KGB.
Both are estranged from their wives, one de jure, the other de facto.
Both have a roving eye for the ladies (persistent rumours in Russia suggest that Vlad’s horizons are even somewhat broader than that, but we must go by facts, not hearsay).
Both have fathered children on the side, though Vlad only allegedly so.
Both are driven by powerful political ambitions, though in Boris’s case these aren’t yet fully realised.
Both like to have their pictures taken when practising their favourite sport, Boris cycling, Vlad swimming or beating people up.
Both have a way with words, though unlike Vlad Boris keeps obscenities strictly for private consumption.
Both think it idiotic to arm Syrian rebels.
Both cite the same culinary reason for this point of view: the rebels are the kind of people who prefer human organs to pork.
Both have other reasons as well, those they don’t air publicly: Vlad sells billions’ worth of weaponry to Assad and gets a warm-water naval base in return; Boris wants to make his old Bullingdon mate Dave look even more stupid than God originally made him.
Both take their own routes to this point of view, driven as they are by different motives. Be that as it may…
Both are right.
That is where the similarities between the two men end. For Boris may be all sorts of things: buffoonish, frivolous, unscrupulous, opportunistic, shallow. But one thing he isn’t, or at least one would like to hope so, is evil.
Vlad on the other hand is an evil man in charge of an evil state. Therefore any aims he pursues can only be evil. Yet if we take their opposition to Dave’s current hobby horse at face value, then both are indeed right.
And Dave, he of the open-collared shirt fame, is terribly, stupidly, criminally wrong.
He doesn’t realise, or at least makes a good show of pretending he doesn’t realise, that the Syrian rebels, whatever their internal differences, are united in a common purpose: replacing Assad’s wicked but secular state with an Islamist one that would be even more wicked.
Moreover, given the aggressive proselytism coded into the Muslim DNA, such a state would not just be wicked internally – it would present a deadly threat to the whole region and therefore the world.
Dave’s view? “We should be on the side of Syrians who want a democratic and peaceful future for their country and one without the man who is using chemical weapons against them.”
First, the evidence of Assad using such weapons is flimsy at best, and the intelligence on which this evidence is based comes from the same people who knew for sure that Saddam was aiming nuclear weapons at Philadelphia.
Second, call me a moral relativist but I rather prefer a Syrian chieftain using chemical weapons against Islamist fanatics to one who, being such a fanatic himself, wouldn’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Israel – or us.
Third, I question the existence of Syrians, or any other Muslims, who are ravenous for democracy, Western style. If they indeed feel the urge to be just like us, they’ve managed to control it admirably for 1,400 years.
Moreover, at different periods throughout this time span and with variable success, they’ve tried to impose their ways on us – by the only method that comes naturally to Islam: violence accompanied by hysterical shrieks of ‘Allahu akbar!’
It is in this historical context that any action in the Middle East should be viewed by any Western leader. However, when instead of leaders we have spivs like Dave, then reality is replaced by cloud-cuckoo-land phantoms. Such as Syrian democracy-seekers who only ever eat human hearts because the West refuses to supply them with halal meat.
In fairness to Dave, he isn’t the only intellectually challenged chap among our politicians. For example, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, said today that “only one in 20 opposition fighters are linked to al Qaeda.”
One would like to see the scientifically conducted polls on the basis of which Sir Malcolm has come up with such a precise calculation.
But do let’s accept this comment as fact, however improbable. The problem with this comment isn’t that it’s improbable but that it’s completely and utterly irrelevant.
The Syrian insurgency unites all sorts of Islamist groups in an ad hoc alliance aimed at turning Syria into an Islamist state. Some of those groups are linked to al Qaeda, some to other criminal gangs, some are freelance. But such differences pale by comparison to the similarities: they’re all wild-eyed fanatics and mortal enemies to the West.
Even worse, they are unpredictable. If the West knew more or less where it stood with chaps like Mubarak, Saddam, Assad and even Gaddafi, all we know about these chaps – apart from their supposed adoration of one-man-one-vote democracy – is that they hate us.
We don’t have a clue how they’ll manifest such feelings once they find themselves in power. However, if the history of the region is anything to go by, the old adage about the devil you know is amply vindicated there: every new ruler tends to be worse than his predecessor.
Playing poodle to US foreign policy largely inspired by neocon propaganda is wrong morally, intellectually, strategically and tactically. That means such a role is custom-made for Dave and his ilk.
Perhaps Boris can talk his new friend Vlad into emigrating and seeking a seat on the Tory back benches, where another anti-Dave outburst is brewing. Provided of course Vlad promises to kick his habit of having his opponents ‘whacked’. Even Dave.