The week that was
Jonathan Pie’s breakdown of how Putin essentially bought off Britain was really on the money. His post, “How Putin Weaponized London’s Greed” had the merit of pointing the finger back at the West in what is a kind of property investment style of appeasement of a dictator.
Pie suggested that all Russian properties in Britain should be seized and used to house Ukrainian refugees. It’s a funny world when only the comedians are really making political sense.
The posting would get you thinking about our own property arrangements with Russian Oligarchs, since, as Pie points out, the big money from Russia flooding into the British property markets, distorts the market for everyone.
On top of that it turns out that Europe’s gas bills are funding Putin’s war to the tune of €350 million a day.
Clare Daly’s furious rant in the European Parliament seemed oddly inappropriate as she laid into her fellow Europeans with a good finger-wagging. It’s not that she was wrong as such, but listing the ills of the world and demanding that something be done about these as well, to the same level of interest currently being given to Ukraine, seemed curiously misplaced.
Afghanistan is Russia’s mess as much as it is the USA’s mess. It’s also the Taliban’s mess and Bin Ladin’s mess. The Afghan people are unfortunate. But to point to them as proof of the West’s lack of humanity seemed like misguided virtue signalling, particularly when people in the West are clearly doing their best to be humane in a world that, to date, generally doesn’t really care for people.
The countries of the West, for all their faults, stand for Liberal Democracy, with oppositional parties working within that value system. The war in Ukraine represents the Liberal Democracies being reluctantly drawn into a potential nuclear conflict with an autocratic regime on the downward leg of its global status. The implications are epochal.
Raising other issues at this time, that have been neglected by the political West, not only seems like being out of touch with the mood and priorities of the moment, but also has the effect of appearing to scorn the humanitarian efforts and gestures being made by ordinary people.
Following on from Russian allegations that the US has chemical and biological testing facilities in Ukraine, the West immediately went into alert that the Russians were likely contemplating using chemical and biological weapons.
This apparently is a Russian strategy, to accuse the enemy of already doing something that they themselves plan to do. Interestingly, it also the strategy of small boys who think their mothers can’t see through them.
The general impression is that the Russians may be seriously looking at using chemical weapons as a means of getting around the military obstacles posed by urban environments, particularly urban environments reduced to rubble.
An army could conceivably spend months or even years trying to take a defended, rubble-strewn city with conventional weapons, as happened in Aleppo before Russia kindly supplied Assad with chemical weapons, solving the “problem” in a couple of weeks.
This idea that the US is conducting biological testing in Ukraine was further reinforced by the Russians at a security council meeting. Put simply, if Russia decided to attack Europe with biological weapons, as was basically threatened at the security council meeting, they could immediately claim that the release was due to an “accident” at a US-backed facility.
Meanwhile the Telegraph (the Torygraph) reported that on Russian State TV, dissenting voices were heard on the Vladimir Soloviyev show, a political panel discussion programme, (more than can be said for Claire Byrne Live) likening the invasion of Ukraine to Afghanistan, only worse.
The Ukrainians apparently have better weapon-handling skills due to their Russian training, and better weapons, due to their Western connections. This makes them, in the estimation of Russians, the worst of both worlds as military opponents.
This incidence of TV dissent, coupled with Russian people’s street protests, may be a measure of the growing unpopularity of the war in Russia itself, with a possible pension plan for the bould Vladimir on the cards, who can retire to his palace and play his Beatles’ albums.
Besides, the entire invasion exercise is dull and unimaginative. If it wasn’t for the seriousness of the deaths and destruction the thing would be seen for the shallow exercise it is. From a fashion perspective running tanks into the neighbours’ backyard is so last century, particularly when there is so much else to be done.
Heightism was raised in the Irish Times on back of suggestions that Putin is suffering a Napoleon complex, due to him being 5’7”, the same height incidentally as Zelensky whose height attracts zero media attention, him being apparently immune to any adverse psychological side-effects due to being 5’7”. He may be a short man, but he’s our short man.
Margaret Steele, a lecturer in philosophy at UCC said that while heightism is not really an ism on a par with sexism, racism, ageism etc, she concedes that there is a cultural preference for tall men. This probably explains why Eamon Ryan is leader of the Green party. Most likely he’s the tallest bloke in the party. The tallest rhubarb in the rhubarb patch. No other explanation for his leadership presents itself.
From the wildly hilarious proposal that people grow lettuce on their window-sills to get in touch with their green side, to the now equally ludicrous proposal for drivers to slow down to save fuel (why not stop altogether? That would be a permanent saving) Ryan’s pronouncements have the effect of making you wonder who is writing his gags.
Meanwhile, inflation rose by 5.6% in February, according to the CSO, with the main contributors to the rise being fuel and energy…and Vladimir, o f course. Next winter promises to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Eamonn Kelly is a Galway-based freelance Writer and Playwright.
Previously: Eamonn Kelly on Broadsheet