Monday, 28 February 2022

Looking Like Us

"They look like us," so if they do not look much like you, then you are obviously not one of "us". The present American bombardment of Somalia because it has refused to sign a particular oil deal does not even merit a mention, but Somalis do not look like "us", any more than Afghans, Iraqis or Libyans did. Ukraine's neighbours are indeed turning away black and brown refugees. This is the EU that Ukraine has today officially applied to join. This is NATO.

Opponents of the Iraq War were accused of treason and all the rest of it, but who has turned out to have been right? If even 10 per cent of the Russian public supports the invasion of Ukraine, then it is as popular as the invasion of Iraq was in Britain. The House of Commons has this evening voted to make organising a protest, simply as such, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

As in most wars, there are no goodies, but we are going to have to deal with whichever lot of baddies had won, more is the pity. On one side is Vladimir Putin, and we all know about him, although some people have seen through him rather longer than others. Consider the MP questioned what was then the emerging alliance with him, and specifically Putin's war in Chechnya as part of The War Against Terrorism, as early as 2001. 

That MP accused Putin of rigging elections in 2008, called for Putin's assets to be frozen in 2010, called for a Magnitsky Act in 2012, called in 2013 for Russian arms corporations to be barred from Britain, accused Putin of war crimes in Syria in 2016, accused Putin of the Salisbury poisonings in 2018 (look it up), questioned in that same year ill-gotten Russian funding of the Conservative Party, and condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the first line of the Stop the War Coalition's recent statement. By contrast, here is the Russian Embassy, publicly endorsing the Conservative Party at the 2017 General Election.

On the other side is a ragbag of shady characters who, like Putin, wish to rule the whole of the area of the former Soviet Union. The likes of Mikheil Saakashvili and David Sakvarelidze wash up in Ukraine, there to engage the muscle of Svoboda, Pravy Sektor, the Azov Battalion, and so on. Why would Volodymyr Zelensky ally with such elements? Why would he not? The Far Right has seen Israel as the frontline of white supremacy for 20 years. The Israeli flag is now ubiquitous at Far Right events the world over.

For the sake of this, sport in general and football in particular have to be thoroughly politicised after all, although notice that people who will not play Russians or in Russia are still happy to go to Qatar. The homemade Molotov cocktail turns out to be an acceptable weapon in resisting occupation, and blowing oneself up to destroy a bridge turns out to be an acceptable tactic. The Foreign Secretary would support you if you went to fight for those who engaged in such practices. You see, they look like "us".

Of course, ethnic Russians also look like "us", but that did not protect the Irish, or the miners, or, in those days, football fans, before football was colonised by the warmongering liberal bourgeoisie that is practically certain never to fight in a war, being adept at finding cushy postings even in periods of conscription. Of course, it is comical to imagine, even in their youth, Tony Blair and David Cameron sallying forth into battle alongside the staff of The Guardian and The Times.

The proposals by the likes of Tom Tugendhat and Chris Bryant would give people with Slavic-sounding names, including Ukrainians, the treatment meted out to the Irish, to the miners, and to the football supporters of old, as to Afro-Caribbeans and to Muslims. Notice the scramble to defend the Trojan Horse hoax, the totally false basis of the Prevent strategy and of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act. Next up will be anyone whose name might pass for Chinese, or whose face might pass for East Asian. However residually or nominally, does Bryant still have any ministerial status in the Church of England or the Church in Wales?

Emmanuel Macron personifies the liberal bourgeoisie, and he has his finger on a nuclear button as surely as do Putin, the senile Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un, Narendra Modi, the Pakistani generals who never give the codes to a mere politician, and whoever is the Prime Minister of Israel this week. Did President Eisenhower, a man of immense military experience, threaten nuclear war over the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956? But who today is a patch on him? It has never been more important to ensure that there were as few nuclear weapons as possible in the world. Look at what the prospect of governing a nuclear armed state actively attracts.

Instead of Trident, an extra £70 billion should be given to each of the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force. This would not entail depriving anything else of funding. The issuing of currency is an act of the State, which is literally the creator of all money. A sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency has as much of that currency as it chooses to issue to itself. All wars are fought on this understanding, but the principle applies universally. The State also has the fiscal and monetary means to control inflation, means that therefore need to be under democratic political control in both cases.

If I were to be elected at North West Durham, then I would have on my parliamentary staff an adviser who had served in each of the Armed Forces, preferably having been honourably discharged after at least 22 years. Let the armchair generals and the Short Commission Brigade argue with them. Although there would have to some sort of formula to ensure that candidates were at least in broad political agreement with me, I would be most minded, in return for the smallest possible administrative fee, to have those advisers elected by former and if possible even serving members of each of the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force. At the very least, I challenge every other candidate at North West Durham to match that commitment.


  1. “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.” Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph.

    “What’s compelling is looking at them, the way they are dressed. These are prosperous, middle-class people. These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from the Middle East or North Africa. They look like any European family that you’d live next door to.” Peter Dobbie, Al Jazeera English.

    “We are in the 21st century, we are in a European city and we have cruise missile fire as though we were in Iraq or Afghanistan, can you imagine!” A commentator on BFM TV, France’s leading news channel.

    “We’re not talking here about Syrians fleeing the bombing of the Syrian regime backed by Putin, we’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.” Philippe CorbĂ©, also on BFM.

    “Now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing, third world nation, this is Europe”. A tearful Lucy Watson, ITV News.

    “To put it bluntly, these are not refugees from Syria, these are refugees from Ukraine [...] They’re Christians, they’re white. They’re very similar [to us].” Hallie Cobiella, NBC News.

    1. Crowdfunding sites are even keeping up pages in support Ukrainian militias. There would be none of that for Arabs, or South Asians, or Africans.