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Showing posts from February, 2015

Boris Nemtsov

When I first met Boris Nemtsov -he was then in his mid thirties- in addition to his obvious intelligence, he also possessed a glamour, which was not just a function of good looks, but also the determined way he had become anti-Soviet. He had begun by leading protests in his home town of Sochi and had steadily progressed so that by the last years of Boris Yeltsin, he had become mayor of Nizhni Novgorod and was in the process of being brought into the Kremlin. As such he might have become part of the corrupt cabal that ultimately- and disastrously- led to the emergence of the Putin regime. Instead, he chose a path that was both more principled and as his tragic assassination today has proven, more dangerous.

Nemtsov spoke for the Western Russia, as opposed to the Scythian one of Stalin and Putin. He believed in rule of law and rule of the people and he held in contempt those who have subverted and stolen Russia for their own personal greed. Nemtsov was not merely a political critic of Vl…

The UK stirs...

After the Hollande-Merkel "peace" mission and Michael Fallon's "infelicitous" choice of words about the Russian threat to the Baltic, it seemed that British detachment from both its allies, including the US, and the burgeoning Putin crisis was growing. In fact, the lack of involvement by the UK in the Minsk-2 debacle now looks prescient. Meanwhile the British decision to provide direct military assistance to the Ukrainian government is controversial, but the in face of the dumb insolence of the Putin government it is a pretty small step, albeit one with potentially momentous consequences for the endgame of the crisis.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the pressure of the Putinist lie machine and the further persecution of Navalny, it is becoming clear that the situation in Russia is deteriorating fast. Russia has chosen a direct challenge to the West, nuclear threats and all. However, the reaction from Washington and it now seems in London, is increasingly to call Puti…

Are we in the prelude to a global war?

In his recently published book, Bill Browder gives estimates of how much Vladimir Putin has stolen from his Russian fellow countrymen. The number he gives is a truly staggering $200 billion. If this is even remotely true, it makes Putin one of the greatest thieves in human history. 

We already know that Putin is presiding over a propaganda machine that rivals and even exceeds the worst that Josef Goebbels presided over. The use of propaganda is sophisticated and relativistic- Peter Pomerantsev in his book "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible" outlines just how pervasive and evil the Putinist lie machine has become.
In the UK, the inquiry into the circumstances of the poisoning of Aleksander Litvinenko has revealed that the British government has clear and direct evidence that Russian government agents acting under the orders of "the highest authority" carried out the murder of Litvinenko, even though he was a British citizen, and the murder was carried out in …

Fighting the last war

In the 1930s there were many heated debates about issues which in retrospect seem rather beside the point. The role of the League of Nations was hotly debated, but in the face of the unrelenting aggression of the dictators, the whole idea of peace-based policies fell apart in the face of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. There were many rational arguments as to why a second Great War was unthinkable: war itself had become the ultimate evil. Surely, no matter what the grievance, a rational and peaceful solution could be found? In the end such enlightened humanity lead to the disaster of Munich and the general slide to a second global conflict. Many reasons might be found after the event- the policy mistakes after 1918, reparations and so on, but actually the malign and festering sense of grievance that Hitler fostered in the German people was not a rational policy and led directly to the war. In the end, the tyrant launched a second two front war which led not merely to a second defeat for…