Wednesday, 2 March 2022


What if the charmed lives we "baby boomers" have lived are owed to a happy historic accident, namely the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933? At that time the isolationist wing of the US Republican Party would have been happy to see Hitler take over Europe (as without US intervention he would surely have done). But as Robert Reich points out here, we can rely on no such luck this time around.

Putin's cynical abuse of the Soviet-era rhetorical goals "anti-fascism" and "de-nazification" to justify his invasion of Ukraine is a disgraceful insult to the millions of Russians who died fighting the real thing in WWII, and the naivety of those on the UK Left who accept such excuses is equally disgraceful. Putin may be keen to create historic parallels with anti-fascism and de-nazification, but actually far better parallels are with the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and the Prague Spring in 1968. In both cases pro-democracy insurgents were portrayed as "fascists" in order to excuse massacring them with tanks, as will soon be happening in Kyiv and Kharkiv. 

We should be slightly encouraged that our own government seems to have finally seen the folly of its shameless courting of Putin, but the records of their party's donations from Russian oligarchs must cast some doubt upon their commitment to effective sanctions:



  1. It seems savagely appropriate that the Babyn Yar memorial was hit by Russian shelling/ missles yesterday. I think this is shaping up to be worse than Hungary 56 and Czechoslovakia 68. If the Ukranians don’t roll over then Putin will trash the country, and be relatively happy with that outcome - as per Chechenya and Syria.

  2. As Dick and I discussed on Tuesday, there is growing speculation, e.g. on BBC2's Newsnight yesterday, that Putin is indeed taking large quantities of steroids: perhaps because he's suffering from unrevealed cancer, more likely because he has always done so to fuel, quite literally, his machismo image. Either way, his irrational and unwarranted aggression is akin to that of a madman and if he has an endgame in mind, it is obviously woefully ill-considered and unfortunately lacks any internal opposition within the Kremlin or amongst his oligarch cohort.

  3. In fact the irrational guy on steroids is winning the war on the ground and the 'coke-head of Kiev' is losing it. Moreover, the guy on steroids has done much over recent years to insulate Russia from the worst effects of Western sanctions: integration with China, building up substantial reserves to protect the ruble, stabilising domestic food and utility prices to maintain high levels of popular support. Who is going to worry that it's difficult to get hold of Chanel or a BMW? Josep Borrell at the recent Versailles EU conference started to regret the whole thing: Referring to the promise of Ukraine membership of NATO he said "I think it was a mistake to make promises that we could not keep."


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