Naturally I worked today – of course I did, they don’t pay me to sit around doing nothing – but I also found a time to read and contribute to the comments on the respective Daily Telegraph and Guardian news stories about the referendum in the Crimea and the Ukrainian crisis in general. And, unusually, if you read either website blind, you would be hard-pushed to know which was the Telegraph site and which the Guardian.
Even more unusually, contributors to both seem pretty much split down the middle either in support or against what Russia has done in the Crimea, it being an accepted truth that Russia is more or less pulling the strings. (Reading through the different sites, it would in time become a little more obvious that you are reading the Telegraph site rather than the Guardian’s because every so often some stupid herbert manages to take what is being discussed and bringing it around to the issue of whether or not Britain should leave the EU, ending is contribution – rant would sometimes be a better word – with an exhortation to all to Vote UKIP!!!.
But gin-soaked little Englanders notwithstanding, opinion is evenly divided on who is the Great Satan: Putin and Russia or Obama, the US and the EU. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Me, firmly believe a plague on both their houses. Taking sides on this one is a mug’s game, but our esteemed leaders, who are never above doing the stupid thing, have, of course, and in the interests of ‘democracy’, the ‘rule of law’ and the rest of the phoney hooey they are apt to trot out on such occasions plumped firmly on the side of – in my view – a gang of snarks and thugs no less unsavoury than the gang they were opposing in Maidan Square a few weeks ago.
As for ‘the other side’, I’m less inclined to pour scorn on them although, Putin, too, is not above playing fast and loose with the truth. It’s a bit rich of Vlad the Lad to complain that neo-nazis and fascists have taken over the government in Kiev, but Russia is no slouch in producing its own neo-nazi and fascist thugs and, it has to be said, in some numbers (as does Poland and Hungary, both members of the EU, which might well be a problem in the making. But here is not the time to discuss it).
I don’t doubt that Russians in the Crimea are overjoyed to be part of the motherland again, figures produced overnight showing that on a 123pc of voter turnout, 109pc who voted in the referendum plumped for re-unification should be enough to silence any mealy-mouthed gainsayers. It will also have been a comfort to the Crimean parliament which organised the referendum that as the two options the voters faced – ‘Do you want immediate re-unification with the Russian motherland?’ and ‘Do you want to wait until next week for reunification with the Russian motherland?’ – didn’t give any Ukrainian spoilsport the chance to say ‘Well, as it happens, no I don’t want Crimea reunified with the Russian motherland’ and spoil Putin’s parade.
Loudmouths and wiseacres on the Telegraph and Guardian sites, of which naturally I was one, saying exactly what I am saying here, could all cite apparently overwhelming reasons why they were right and the others wrong (and in the case of the Telegraph why we should Vote UKIP!!!). There were Russians staunchly defending reunification with the motherland, Ukrainians staunchly condemning it and one or two folk such as me staunchly advising caution, don’t get involved and don’t blame me if it all goes tits up.
Will it go tits up? Does Putin now have his sights on taking over all of the Ukraine and then heading for the Baltic states before turning south and making for Czechoslovakia as some are seriously suggesting? Will the West (for which, of course, read the US, some in the EU and the UK – voices from France, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the rest have been so quiet you could hear a pin drop) really risk damaging their exports by imposing real sanctions? Or will be see a blanket ban on the import of Russian nesting dolls and serious cuts on the import of Caspian Sea caviar, but little else? We’ve already had stern words and I fear they could yet get sterner – that should learn the Ruskies: never trust a man in a fur hat carrying a bottle of vodka.
As always, then, it’s all as clear as mud. If you want ‘international law’, you can have ‘international law’ until it is coming out of your arse. If you want ‘the people’s will’, ‘kinship’, ‘natural ties’, ‘democratic standards’, ‘serious reprisals’, ‘consequences’ and the rest, you can have those, too. For free.
I’m one of those sneaky types that the West is on pretty shaky ground when it lectures other nations about the ‘international law’ and the rest: where, please tell me, were these hi’falutin notions when the US and the tagalong UK introduced ‘shock and awe’ to Iraq – around 136,000 innocents killed since 2003? Where in ‘international law’ is it laid down just how many drones you can send across the world to kill whoever you please as well as several hundred you didn’t actually meant to kill but, hey, these things happen?
All this might sound as though I am taking sides. I’m not. A plague on both their houses, I say. But it so happens I live in the West and whatever stupid ideas the leaders of ‘my side’ come up with might well have an impact on my life and, more importantly, my children’s lives. So a plague on both your houses is my position, admittedly not a useful one but at least, I hope and honest one.