I have a number of very simple rules that I follow in life. The first is that wherever possible, I do everything in my power to live at peace with all men. This quite naturally, means I must gird my loins with the weighty and uncomfortable cloth of patience, for as we all know, either through personal action or experience, that the world is full of fools. A very close relation to this rule that I also subscribe to is to judge a tree by the fruit that it bears, a good tree will give birth to good fruit, a bad tree to bad fruit. This again, requires patience, and also a rather surprising response; inaction. If I were to interfere in the blossoming process of the tree, my final objective judgement would be corrupted, for I would have inadvertently influenced something – either positively or negatively – by my action. It is vital that under such circumstances we allow nature to take her course. While these approaches might appear to be the justification of the sloth or the incurably indecisive, they have served me faithfully over the years and I have yet to encounter a situation where time has not resolved my inner desire to get to the truth of a matter. Quite often, this requires me to change my mind as a result, to revisit old preconceptions, to eat humble pie. I have learned very much the hard way that it is better to stay silent on a matter and be considered a fool, than to open my copious mouth (Capacity: both feet and lower limbs), and to proven to be one. For one of the most painful realisations in life is that you are a fool.
There is, however, an even more offensive realisation. We expect our leaders to be wise, and a foolish king is a disgrace to any nation. The foolish king is not only an offence, he is treacherous – insofar as we have sacrificed to him our individual and personal authority, and any action that he takes we consider, consciously or unconsciously, to be an extension of our own. Ergo, the foolishness of the king is in direct proportion to the foolishness of the population, for we are willing to accept a much wider latitude of idiocy if we are, indeed, idiots. Hence the maxim “We get the leaders we deserve”. If the populace is not educated or wise, even a gossamer thin layer of guile and treachery will suffice in place of wisdom, as it clothes the king with a different authority than the common man. This is why foolish kings inevitably do not encourage their subjects to be wise, for if they were wise, their subjects would understand the inherent perils of being ruled by a fool, and as a result, would challenge the authority of the king. The wise king on the other hand, understands that his role is to promote wisdom, and as a result, potentially make his own authority and rule redundant. Such benevolent thoughts are far from the considerations of tyrants and dictators, and we have seen more than a modicum of this behaviour on the global stage in our recent lifetime.
So what then are we to make of the recent announcement in parliament by Boris Johnston on the 22nd of February? Are these the words of a wise statesman who is determined to seek peace and reconciliation at any cost while at the same time, walk the ever swaying tightrope of national sovereignty and self determination? Or are these the carefully crafted words of a renowned charlatan who is determined to double down on a foolish long-term foreign policy objective, relentlessly pursued by a cabal of nations that believes Russia is the devil incarnate? If one is to read the statement carefully, one would be surprised to find that according to our Prime Minister, the actions of President Putin are both “Absurd” and “Mystical”. My personal understanding of the current situation suggests that Vladimir Putin is acting entirely rationally, and if one is to place the current crisis within the context of post-war geopolitics and Russian history, the astute observer would have seen the inevitable writing on the wall. To the politically aware, the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia was inevitable while the West followed a foreign policy of “Poke the bear through the bars of the cage”.
Therefore, please permit me to act as amateur defence counsel for the accused, President Putin and indeed, Russia. In doing so, I am not suggesting that I am a Putin “Fanboy” or indeed an apologist for the brutalism that my client seems to be continually associated with. I have not spent hundreds or indeed thousands of hours reading Russian history, although I have read countless books on the Cold War, the dangerous and subversive influences of such people as Alinsky, Gramsci, Marx et al. I am well versed in the conclusions of numerous think tanks, lobby groups and special interests that litter the post-war landscape, certainly since the demise of JFK. I have not, however, been able to research in-depth the current predicament of my client, as his need for advocacy is so urgent. My defence therefore, will be “Off the cuff” so to speak, a knee-jerk and spontaneous reaction to current events. I request in advance your forgiveness, I am sure there are many that are better qualified than I to expand and clarify the points that I am about to make.
The closest political parallel that we have to the current situation is the Cuban missile crisis during the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev. To the casual observer, the date of the public revelation of this crisis would seem irrelevant, until one discovers that JFK announced the quarantine of Russian vessels and his demands for the removal of the missiles on the 22nd of October, 1962. Coincidence? While the dates may share something in common, that is really where any parallels finish, apart from another striking fact. As part of the deal between Washington and Moscow that ended the crisis, the USA was forced to remove PGM-19 Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey installed in 1959, that were within striking distance of the USSR. This fact was kept secret from the public, partly to bolster the reputation of JFK, partly to save face on the part of the USA. This existential threat, like the current Ukrainian crisis, is the crux of the matter – Whereas in 1962 it took the Russians three years to respond, with the West and Vladimir Putin, it has taken over thirty. Is this the act of a warmonger?
I would argue the current scenario is a mirror image of the Cuban missile crisis, albeit with the boots transposed. Over generations, the West has deliberately, consciously and maliciously allowed the expansion of her economic and military interests right up to the front door of Russia. This would not be so offensive to the Russian psyche if the nations involved remained neutral, but they did not. As more and more former Warsaw pact nations were absorbed into the West, the spirit of the agreement that we would not encroach into former Russia territory has been worn threadbare. While Western apologists are vocal in stating that there was no formal agreement or pact to this end, it is a bit like arguing I am allowed to beat my wife as there is no specific clause denying me this right in my marriage vows. Russia, on the other hand, either through immense hubris or completely misreading the situation, willingly allowed this expansion to take place, according to one possible interpretation. An alternative scenario of course, is that Moscow was still clinging to a Cold War mentality, where Russia and the USA were the only two players in town. This seems the most likely reason why Russia did not immediately consider European expansion as a major threat, after all, the Russians did want to join NATO as early as the 1950’s but were not taken seriously. Irrespective of that, Russia had bigger fish to fry, the rebuilding of the country after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the disastrous war in Afghanistan probably did more to undermine a nation with a GDP smaller than Italy than anything the West could possibly conjure up. If it is guilty of anything, Moscow was guilty of too much introspection, as any nation that has suffered such enormous wartime casualties would be extremely prone to do. There is of course, the unaswered question of the Berlin Wall itself – Did it fall or was it pushed? If it was indeed pushed, which side pushed it over – The West or the East? Is it beyond belief that this was deliberately engineered to allow the further expansion of globalism? If so, which side initiated this?
The West on the other hand, by design, has had no choice but to pursue an expansionist economic and military policy. The relentless devaluation of Western currency due to overwhelming debt, uncontrolled government spending and the incessant rotation of the central bank printing press, has forced the international expansion of traditional domestic markets. Once your population has exhausted itself on debt repayments, interest and taxes, you have no alternative but to seek commercial pastures new. Combined with the forces of the “Free market” which has increased competitiveness, reduced profit margins and increased efficiency, this pincer movement has driven manufacturing away from the West to the point that only security-critical sectors such as Nuclear and Defence remain in-house. Even still, the pressure is so great that critical components, such as steel, are at the mercy of foreign nations. To compound this problem still further, we are forced to embrace military union with our neighbours to pool our shrinking resources, and as a result, enter complex and risky defence pacts and concords as a “Quid pro quo” that further erodes our sovereignty and independence. This is one of the fundamental reasons that I have always believed, and still believe, Brexit is in name only. The Gordian knot of finance, international law, defence, and geopolitics is so complex and intertwined that it cannot be untangled. Take the current Ukraine crisis, for instance. Rather than taking an independent and principled stand, we have allowed ourselves to be dragged along by the G7. United we stand, divided we fall and the Devil take the hindmost.
Russia, on the other hand, has an entirely different economic model. Even after the political and economic reforms forced upon her after the collapse of the Berlin wall, it remains a strange amalgam of state control and private industry. The fixation of the West on applying economic sanctions may work on a nation exporting to the World PLC, but Russia is extremely self-contained and self-sufficient. Generations of Communism have seen to that, and the Russians are a proud and independent nation. The theory that sanctions may bring pressure on President Putin via the Oligarchs is but a vain hope, for if we are to believe the narrative President Putin is such a monster, then the Oligarchs will clearly be more afraid of him than of the West. That observation aside, no Oligarch worth his vodka will have his money in a position that allows the West to hold him to such ransom. Banning Russia from the Swift network will just force Russia into bed with the Chinese, or to create their own network. Once again, the rules the West play by do not apply to Russia. Italy has a greater GDP, and for a world superpower, it has an extremely small – but critical – footprint on the global economic scale. The fact that Russia is primarily an agro-military economy is testament to this. Rooted in heavy industry and self-sufficiency, Russia does not suffer from the supply chain weakness the West suffers from, quite the contrary. Any sanctions we impose on her will effectively backfire and punish the West.
It has not been without considerable warning from the Kremlin over the years that the current crisis has been looming. Russian objections to the persistent shelling of citizens in Eastern Ukraine, the installation of a Western puppet government and considerable aid from the West – both humanitarian and military – has been met with a robotic “Putin evil”. The final straw for the defendant seems to have been when Ukraine, like a small petulant child, stomped its foot and demanded “Its” nuclear weapons back, despite handing the Soviet manufactured weapons back to Russia after the Cold war, in return for economic and security guarantees. This dangerous development, along with an extremely mature Nazi heritage, is indeed a threat to world peace, but not insofar as the current narrative portrays it. The 1930’s Holodomor, where almost 4 million Ukrainians died due to starvation is a weeping sore on the Ukrainian body, and depending who you choose to believe, this was either a deliberate act or the unintended consequence of a failed and experimental reform. Tragically, in the same way that we always hurt those the most that are closest to us, the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is a bittersweet one. Being so culturally and historically similar inevitably causes conflict, as both sides are like two peas in a pod. If the West was in any way responsible, we would be brokering a peace deal rather than banging the drums of seperation and war.
To suggest that my client has acted “Out of the blue” and is guilty of “Unprovoked violence” is a clear distortion of fact. The defendant has warned the West for years now about how insecure they have felt with the ongoing encroachment of NATO, and the continual superciliousness demonstrated towards them, despite every effort to maintain peace and harmony. While conformity to the letter and spirit of the law is demanded of them, no such rule applies to the accuser, especially when it comes to global conflict. The change of the NATO charter from being a defensive to an offensive force was a clear signal that different rules are in play. It is no coincidence that this took place shortly after the collapse of the Berlin wall, and the further unification and expansion of Europe. After all, with no Cold War, NATO had a huge problem explaining their existence otherwise.
If guilty of anything, President Vladimir Putin is not guilty of war crimes. If he is, then we should set a clear precedent and send Tony Blair to the Hague as the warm up act, along with many others. Coupled with a rapidly deteriorating political situation in a close neighbour where Nazi sympathies are rife, a West in deep confusion morally, politically and economically, Russia has seized the opportunity to act in her best interests. Ukraine, likewise, foolishly encouraged by the West, has allowed an internal civil war to fester for years mercilessly attacking Russian speaking citizens to the East. Despite all the virtue signalling and cries of “Foul”, it will be interesting to see how committed the West, and in particular the former Soviet-bloc nations will be in supporting a “European” Ukraine in real terms. Western intervention in the Ukraine would be a disaster for everyone concerned. To go down this road would be to open many old wounds, and will bring us to the precipice of World War III. Apart from a few idiots, I suspect the West has little appetite for such a foolish action, and even the weak President Biden must realise that he is beyond the point of no return in the polls, and a war will not rescue him now, especially if he discards the bulwark of mutually assured destruction that has maintained world peace for many generations. The ironies and parallels to the Cuban missile crisis are stark indeed. We have gone full circle from a strong American president and a “Weak” Russian Khrushchev to a “Weak” President Biden and a strong President Putin. The only differences we seem to have is we are only just emerging from a fake pandemic, and dual-use biological labs funded by the USA have been found on Ukranian soil.
No, I assert that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is guilty of one thing and one thing alone. Apart from a perfectly rational and legal motive of self defence, I would posit another. Revenge. Despite years of demonisation in the same vein as that directed towards the former President Trump, despite world peace being disrupted by America walking away from Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with Russia, despite doing everything expected of them yet being undermined in the global stage in the process, Russia has long bitten her collective tongue at these snide attacks. What it has chosen to do now is to serve the best possible dish under the circumstances. Ice cream.
© Rookwood 2022