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The dogs are unleashed

February 22, 2022

If ever there was an appropriate moment to watch Munich: The Edge of War, the film of Robert Harris’s book, it was probably now. We watched it a couple of nights ago, just as presidents and prime ministers were lining up to sit at one end of Vladimir Putin’s battleship of a table in Moscow.

Not that I’m a believer in grand historical parallels, but Harris’s imagining of a different outcome that might have arisen from the meeting of Hitler and Chamberlain in 1938 keeps coming back to me as we watch Putin making his moves on Ukraine.

Will nobody within his own ranks stop the dictator? When does blind obedience reach its limits? When it comes up against fear and the instinct for self-presentation?

Then my thoughts turn to the home front. We’ll be alright, won’t we? Yes, there will be consequences. Cyberattacks, energy shortages, restrictions on long-haul travel if Putin shuts down Russia’s airspace. But surely the thing won’t go nuclear. Is Putin’s cause so important to him that he’s prepared to risk the destruction of his country in order to gain a few hundred thousand square miles of irradiated wasteland?

For that reason alone, this is surely no Munich moment. Unless, of course, those in the US – and there are many – who care not a jot about “a quarrel between people in a far away land about whom we know little” win the argument that America should leave Europe well alone. Unless there are too many interests here in the UK potentially undermined by the prospect of our role as the Godfather’s bankers coming to a speedy end. Unless Germany is too spooked by the prospect of energy starvation that might result from the closure of Nord Stream 2.

No need to worry, you’d like to think. The grown-ups have got it covered. We children of failing democracies should belt up, prepare for turbulence and sit tight. Just as we did in 2008, and just as we’ve been doing during COVID. It’ll be OK, but if it isn’t, there’s not a damn thing we little people can do about it. So throw away masks, eat, drink, catch the virus and be merry.

And if we do (not including those far-away people of course) come though this crisis relatively unscathed, will we look back and reflect that maybe we earned another year to prepare for the worst, as Robert Harris has Chamberlain believing? Perhaps not, because if the worst was unthinkable in 1938, today it’s all too thinkable, because we’ve been thinking about it ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Perhaps Putin has a point. That Ukraine belongs to Russia. That the end of the Soviet Empire was an aberration that need to be reversed in order to restore an international equilibrium that kept the nukes away for fifty years.

You may think that. You may also ask whether democracy is worth a fig anyway. After all, the Chinese are doing OK with their dictator, aren’t they?

If Putin’s tanks roll across Ukraine with minimal resistance and bee-sting sanctions, we might wish to consider what lessons are to be learned. Or possibly what lessons we have forgotten. The one conundrum those who have survived upheavals in the past have failed to solve is how to deal with a competent psychopath who has gained the power of life and death over nations, empires and all who defy them. Because they have a habit of cropping up under all manner of circumstances, we may see them coming but there is no universal manual on how to deal with them.

While we cling to our sense of moral rectitude over abuses of human rights by the psychopaths who care little about who they kill, how much attention do we give to the rights of other species as we gaily preside over their extinction?

But enough of this prattle. If there’s one thing most of us share with the people of Russia and Ukraine, for all our much-vaunted freedoms to speak and act, it’s a sense of powerlessness. Only a few powerful people can make a difference at this point. The rest of us, however much we’ve been encouraged to believe that our opinions count, have no choice but to wait and watch.

The dogs are unleashed.

From → Film, History, Politics, UK, USA

  1. In case you didn’t get the comment I left attached to an old blog because I couldn’t find this one…
    Have you ever seen the BBC TV movie from 1984 called “Threads”, I believe. Might be singular. No short term memory.
    If not, you might take a look at the beginning of it. It’s available online. No need to watch the whole thing.


    • Thanks Debby. I’ll check it out. A vague memory, but I was in Saudi at the time with no access to the BBC TV or much else, so I may have missed it. S

  2. Mark permalink

    Re “psychopaths”

    The most vital urgent and DEEP understanding everyone needs to gain is that a mafia network of manipulating PSYCHOPATHS are governing big businesses (eg official medicine), nations and the world (the evidence is irrefutable as is obvious with the Covid Scamdemic — see “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” ….

    And psychopaths are typically NOT how Hollywood propaganda movies have showcased them. And therefore one better RE-learns what a psychopath REALLY is (see cited source above).

    But rulership by psychopaths is only ONE part of the equation that makes up the destructive human condition as the article explains.

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