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Behind Putin and Trudeau stands Xi

At the start of WWII, Britain and France imposed a blockade on Germany. They believed the blockade had contributed greatly to victory in WWI – and they liked the thought of doing it again far better than the thought of doing Verdun or the Somme again. Great confidence was expressed that blockade could break Germany, that Germans would abandon Hitler. The RAF dropped many leaflets pointing this out to the Germans.

There was just one small problem. Stalin was Hitler’s ally. The Russians supplied Germany with huge volumes of goods the west fondly imagined they were blockading. Where Russia could not supply them herself, she acted as intermediary for Germany in the world market. She also transported supplies from Japan to Germany. Russia did not do it for nothing, of course – but her payment terms were so generous that the Germans complained their Japanese ally looked mean by comparison.

Why did the communists do this? After Russia and Germany completed their joint operations in Poland, the Soviets urged the Nazis to end the ‘phoney war’ in the west:

One must ardently hope that the world war will begin in earnest as soon as possible.

(The Germans would grant Stalin’s wish – more than he bargained for, in the end.)

That was then, this is now. The west’s ability to isolate Putin has a gaping hole: Xi. China won’t help Putin fight his Ukrainian battles, but as far as western sanctions are concerned, it can keep Putin afloat for a long time. That does not mean it will. But when gladdened by the sight of Putin in difficulties, or western cringing acquiescence changing to something less shamefully absurd, we should not forget that Xi can undercut a lot of the fairly little we have done so far, if he wishes.

To Trudeau, Xi is an envied example. We know this because he said so.

“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime … a flexibility … that I find quite interesting.”

Xi does not return the admiration – but China has spent a ton of money in the west so that “capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”, and a ton more on “useful [and greedy] idiots”.

Another thing Trudeau finds quite interesting is China’s social credit scheme, that can unperson dissenters from their bank accounts and their credit cards, even before arresting them – indeed, even before ruling their acts criminal. We know this because he did so.

Putin threatens freedom in the Ukraine right now – and in neighbouring countries (that he clearly thinks of as next) soon, and in the west generally long-term. Trudeau threatens freedom in Canada right now – and in anglosphere countries (that his ideological allies clearly think of as next) soon, and in the west generally long-term. When assessing their strength versus our strength to resist, don’t forget: behind both stands Xi.

How the quality of mercy is strained

Prosecutorial discretion is a power jealously protected by prosecutors, who will tell stories about forgoing prosecution of 18-year-old guys for “rape” of their 17-year-old girlfriends, of not prosecuting people for technicalities when the equities demanded they violate those technicalities. It all sounds so decent and commonsensical.

That’s how people like Epstein go forever in safety, how Clinton escaped prosecution for the same acts that put others in prison regularly, how the Jussie Smollets of the world walk away from their troubles . . .

You don’t need to be that well connected to benefit. Bobby b, commenter of this parish, worked for a time as a criminal defence lawyer in the twin cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul.

In my relatively short crimdef career, I asked prosecutors to use that kind of discretion many times. It worked for the judge’s kid, for the cop, and for two staffers of the St. Paul City Councilperson. They were the only ones deserving of the city/county attorneys’ mercy.

We’ve seen the US Department of Justice exercise a lot of ‘discretion‘ recently (and not so recently). Bobby warns us that this bit of the deep state runs a lot deeper than that.

(After ‘discretion’ finally ran out for him, I assume it was a different but liaising bit of the deep state who arranged that one fine day in the middle of the night the ‘forever’ safe Epstein suddenly expired in his ‘guarded’, ‘suicide-watched’ cell.)

Was I gullible to believe in Tory cynicism?

Ever since Gove messed up the election of a leave leader, my confidence that the Tories would nevertheless deliver Brexit rested less on the belief that the parliamentary party contained more leavers than full-blown remoaners than on the conviction that it contained many who just wanted to win the next election. Cameron’s referendum to deal with the internal and external (UKIP) threat to Tory electoral prospects ended not as he intended, but it offered such MPs a very obvious path forward. Likewise, when May demonstrated her ability to reduce a poll-lead healthily exceeding 20% to a result just exceeding 2% (over Corbyn, of all people), my belief that the Tories would not risk another election under her leadership rested solidly on my faith in how many Tory MPs wanted first and foremost to win.

For now, it is all still to play for. Firstly, if there are as many letters written as rumoured, yet such as David Davis are still thinking about it, then Mogg’s “this week or next” remains on the table – and I quite see that the rule ensuring May a challenge-free year if she survives a vote is a very good reason for caution in the run-up to launching one. Secondly, when May’s incompetence made her dependent on the DUP for her majority, I thought it good for one reason; I now also think it good for another. Thirdly, if all else fails, reality could still prove wiser than parliament and deliver us a no-deal Brexit through their sheer inability to agree anything decisive in a timely fashion.

All that said, I am beginning to question my faith in the “focus on winning” cynicism of a sufficient majority of Tory MPs. It is one thing to think that enough Tory MPs to keep May as leader could betray their voters, their party, their principles and the most emphatic statements of their 2017 manifesto (and her leadership campaign), but it shakes me to the core to find myself wondering if they could choose the electoral death ride of May campaigning on this deal rather than follow a leaver. I’m glad that a majority of back-bench MPs seem to be interested in retaining the votes of the ‘swivel-eyed loons’ so derided by Cameron, Osborne, and now May, but just how many others would rather lose than be unfriended in SWI ?

Natalie once stated she would endure a Corbyn government rather than stay in the EU. I have always felt much sympathy for the wretched situation of Slavs who found themselves fighting for Stalin against Hitler as the only alternative to Hitler’s winning, and it is with similar feelings that I do see her point (if, that is, we could even rely on their being alternatives). However we should be able to do better than that.

Whose gambit over Syria?

The shooting down of a Russian military aircraft, by Turkey, allegedly after it passed into a sliver of Turkish airspace during a mission over northern Syria might well be an isolated incident, like Gadaffi’s clashes with the US Navy over the Gulf of Sidra in the 1980s. For me, I hear an ironic but distorted echo of the shooting down of the Korean Air flight 007 by the Soviets in 1983, when it was 90 seconds from international airspace after passing briefly through Soviet airspace, but that was a civil flight and a clear case of Soviet mass murder.

Whatever happened may not become clear, but why it happened is for now, even murkier.

Was it a ‘gambit’, like a pawn sacrifice (the eternal lot of the military) in chess to gain a strategic advantage, a pretext to escalate the situation or to force others hands?
Was the shooting down a provocation by a resurgent Erdogan, confident in his election victory, expecting to shield from Russia behind NATO?
Was it Russian testing of Turkish resolve, or vice versa?
Did both sides hope for a crisis too good to waste?
Is Russia hoping to drive a wedge between Turkey and the rest of NATO, expecting the wetter elements to take fright and use the ‘Polish veto’ of NATO?
Is Russia hoping for a prolonged spike in the oil price to boost its economy, and distract the hard-pressed masses from their troubles and toils?
Or was it just a trigger-happy pilot?
And what would be the best outcome for the West from this tragedy?

The upshot of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris almost seems as they were 1960s KGB/GRU operations designed to sow discord within Europe and to set countries against each other and élites against the people, with Putin having dusted down an old plan and re-worked it. But is that not over-complicating matters?

The devil is in the details

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