There’s no denying that I’m tempted to continue regarding North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un with the amusement with which I have viewed him up until recently, but owe it to myself to remind me that even Adolf Hitler, despite his evil nature, was considered quite the clown.
If the Bush administration succeeded in convincing some of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Trump administration manages to convince them of the Shayrat airbase’s part in Syria’s alleged chemical warfare – true or not.
I’m not saying this in defence of Bashar al-Assad. The man is criminal, through and through. Only problem is: With all probablitiy, so is Donald J. Trump.
Caution, is all I’m saying. Let’s not forget Iraq just yet (or Libya, for that matter), and for God’s sake, let us not forget about Russia.
An old phrase – you know whose – immediately springs to mind:
On a somewhat more positive note it should be added that western measures were long overdue. Let’s just hope the Shayrat airbase wasn’t manned by Russian troops – or that Mother Russia is looking kindly on an attack on her close Middle East ally.
Come New Years Eve I shall party just as hard as the next guy. Not because there’s any cause for celebration, considering the hopeless situation in which we find ourselves, but because, after all, it is what people expect, my own family not excepted. I will, of course, comply, without a trace of the concerns boiling inside.
There’s been much talk of the cold war revival, of a World War III already in progress – allegations I wouldn’t even dream of contradicting, as I’ve been trying to raise awareness of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive approach for about a decade already, albeit to little avail – as one should expect, considering the blog’s obscurity.
However, we would be ill-advised to expect WWIII to be a blueprint of its two predecessors, considering that the war has been going on for quite some time, sans traditional or conventional confrontations, save the extensivity of Russian false news, aiming at destabilising western Europe and the U.S. – and successfully so, given Putin’s 2016 triumphs in the United Kingdom and the United States, both early examples of the Russian propaganda machinery’s unsurpassable efficiency.
While the entire west desperately endeavours to figure out how to prevent further distribution of fake news, and, as a consequence thereof; even more western states falling into the hands of politicians under Russian influence, Mr. Putin keeps busy forging alliances with leaders disliked by the west, currently Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, while a civil war in Yemen, a former Soviet outpost in the Middle East, still rages, what ever prospects it may hold.
There is a distinct possibility, you know, that Putin’s foothold in the Middle East may well be even firmer, now that Russia in fact controls Syria and the Crimean peninsula, whence the Black Sea Fleet hails, lacking only free passage through the Bosphorous, controlled by Putin’s soon-to-be ally (?) and fellow strongman Erdoğan, leaving more or less the entire Middle East under Russian control, in spite of the protests we may voice through the UN security council.
After all, since when did Vladimir Putin bother listening to the UN? On the contrary, the following countries (most of which siding with Russia), voted against protecting Syrian civilians, suffering from a war which has now outlasted WWII: Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, N. Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, S. Sudan, Syria (i.e. the Assad regime), Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
So yes, a World War III most certainly is in progress, even if we may find that it’s being fought on the Internet and on battle fields far from home, with victims we only see on the news. We should, however, also accept that Britain’s Brexit and America’s Trump victory are defeats good as any, both battles won by Putin’s virtual soldiers, because that’s the kind of war this is – a war in which I try to involve myself, however uninvited, and inconsequential my feeble efforts, considering the west’s shortcomings pertaining to propaganda measures on equal terms.
I simply refuse to side with those advocating reservation and self-muzzling, based on the eventuality, however small, that Vladimir Putin is in fact a pretty good guy, so let me reiterate my decade-long message, as some (but sadly all-too few) also did in the 1930s: He is not, so I long since decided to be this guy:
Also, living in a country sharing borders with Russia, as I do, I can, to a certain extent, understand some people’s reluctance to raise their voices against a potential invader … Or maybe not.
Which, hopefully, explains my reluctance – to yell “Happy New Year” at the top of my lungs, but hey, here’s hoping.
P.S. I used the same headline on a post earlier this autumn (simply forgot), and we all know how that turned out.
Today, 1 July 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the Somme Offensive, or the Battle of the Somme, claiming the lives of about a million British, French and German soldiers during the course of a few months (1 July – 18 November 1916).
Looking at the Europe of today, after more than half a decade’s peaceful coexistence under the European Union’s protecting wings, you cannot help but wonder what lessons we learnt from two consecutive world wars, and the peace, prosperity and democratisation emerging as a direct result of the EU.
Looking at Britain; Probably nothing.
Looking at Norway; Absolutely nothing.
Looking at Austria, about to elect a far-right government, following the annulment of its recent election; Definitely nothing.
Looking at the advances of Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen; Not a damn thing.
Most people I know seem to be under the impression that the last 70 years of Western European (and later, former Eastern European, as they have joined) peace is nothing to do with the EU. Then again we suffer an inexplicable hostility towards anything containing that word, “union”, probably due to our previous unions with Denmark and Sweden, respectively. Or, perhaps, inspired by Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s:
But peace is not so precious
As that his will man shows
– Extract from his poem, Choice (NO: Jeg velger meg april)
Clearly, little do they know:
So dear Europe, get your act together, please. Together, please!
Top photo: A young German soldier engaged in the Battle of the Somme, 1916. Source: Wikipedia.
Granted today’s wars do not play out the way they used to, but rather as hybrid wars, proxy wars and jolly old terrorism, known since the days of the IRA, PLO, and the RAF, not to be confused with the Royal Air Force. Which is probably why we have such problems identifying them as such. After all our image of a war has been cemented over the centuries, as nations have met on the battlefield, fighting it out until a winner emerged.
Today, as I just mentioned, not so.
On one side there’s the extremists demanding every infidel’s life. On the other there’s the extremists waging war on practically every living Muslim, and on the third there’s the madman trying to reinstate the Russian empire, in a pseudo Soviet shape, sans the Communism (albeit with all the trimmings).
Wedged in between these parties (and then some, I grant you that) you find the rest of us – the ones that have to pay the price, either because we happen to step outside, somewhere in the western world, if we are liberal and/or secular Muslims, lumped in with the crazy bunch, or citizens of a country neighbouring Russia.
Or, as we’ve just witnessed, inclined to love whom ever we want.
Attacks on civilians, both in Europe, America and in Muslim countries, carried out by all parties, seem to have reached a level at which people find themselves more or less barricaded, out of fear for moving around, or to go on vacation where they want. The latter exemplified by luxury facilities in popular holiday destinations sold at record low prices during peak season.
Needless to say it is all bound to escalate, as Putin (a prominent homophobic himself), Trump and the so-called Islamic State grow in strength, and the bigots of the world multiply, inspired by said forces’ actions and statements. And you know how it is, in all camps: An attack calls for retaliations. Retaliations, too, call for retaliations, and the merry-go-round is just about where we’re at.
In short, I’m afraid, we ain’t seen nothing yet, even if the Orlando incident may be altogether unrelated to organised terrorism.
Having said that, the perpetrator did pledge allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, in turn claiming full responsibility. It remains a mystery to me how the international community has squandered every opportunity to wipe the terrorist organisation off the face of the earth.
Top illustration: A drawing I made just after the attack on Copenhagen café “Krudttønden”, hosting a meeting with Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, February 2015.