As I write, the media echo chamber has, predictably, become a fog of counter-narratives over the Israel-Hamas conflict, intended to dismiss the unique horror of October 7’s meticulously planned and sadistically-executed 21st century pogrom.
Yet we must not allow ourselves to forget one essential truth. This war, like the war in Ukraine, pits the West — us — against the rest. And as pro-Hamas demonstrators chant from the streets of Paris to those of Islamabad, it becomes obvious that externally and internally, we, the democracies believing in the rule of law and individual responsibility, are tragically ill-equipped to defend ourselves.
Soon after the beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine, as Kyiv stood almost encircled by Russian tanks supported by Russian air force and Russian artillery, a number of useful idiots in Europe and America started bleating that the world needed a ceasefire, “to make the suffering stop”.
“Pacifists” from Charles de Gaulle’s stupidest grandson, Pierre, 59, an undistinguished money manager living in tax exile in Switzerland who comes to Paris to give lectures at the Russian Embassy, to Lionel Jospin’s former Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, a man who’s never seen a “sophisticated compromise” he prefers to resistance to a foreign invasion (it runs in the family: his father Jean Védrine became a Vichy civil servant in 1942 when he came back from captivity in Germany as a PoW), all piled on to condemn “warmongers”.
We were, they moaned, at risk of WWIII! “I don’t want nuclear bombs falling on Paris,” a well-known French economist, more distinguished by his superlative networking abilities than by any theoretical breakthrough, told me in anguished tones. The Ukrainians were acting “irresponsibly” in not accepting their losses promptly.
But this, of course, was never going to happen: the bomb is so last century, even assuming that Russia’s devices still work, which is far from certain.
But mostly, Vladimir Putin’s canny and careful ally, Xi Jinping, witnessing the 600-day debacle of his Russian protégé’s three-day Special Military Operation with the attentiveness of a leader wondering how an attack on Taiwan would be received, has made it clear that nuclear war was off the table.
And why not? The real WWIII is what we’re seeing now: asymmetrical warfare on steroids, in which shock and awe are no longer delivered by regular armies but by bloodthirsty, drugged up foot soldiers of Islamic terrorism, or press-ganged convicts let loose on Malian villages.
One of its main beneficiaries (and sugar daddy of terrorist entities from Hamas to Hezbollah) is Vladimir Putin, for whom any autocrat deserves shoring up and any democracy must be undermined, lest they inspire his own citizens.
In the prescient words of the Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba in his 2021 book, Ukraine vs. Darkness, “Vladimir Putin has created a kind of an around-the-clock global repair service for broken dictatorships: the number one go-to destination for failing authoritarian leaders the world over.
“So far, it does the job, with thousands of people dead, with new democracies bleeding, and with the West either passively watching or eagerly co-financing this political enterprise via joint ventures like the Nordstream-2 pipeline…. All the friendly gestures aimed at assuaging the hostility will only persuade Russia that Putin was right in pegging the West as weak and corruptible.”
It should come as no surprise that Hamas leaders have been regular visitors to Moscow since 2006.
When they finally spoke on the telephone last Monday, Vladimir Putin told Benjamin Netanyahu that Russia was “trying to help normalise the situation” (whatever he meant by the word “normalise”). But as early as October 8, the day after the onslaught, Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official, gave an interview to the Russian propaganda channel RT, thanking Russia for its help, from granting Hamas a license to locally produce bullets for Kalashnikovs to steadfast diplomatic support.
Russia supports Iran, which created the extremist political environment, militarily trained the perpetrators of the attack, and provided Hamas with their weapons. The brutality of Hamas is not new; but the performativeness of the atrocities — filmed, recorded, shared, broadcasted — is far more in the Wagner/Isis style: the sheer savagery is a feature, not a bug.
World disorder (the candid name of a French-language Sputnik radio programme spreading the anti-West Moscow line until it got pulled from the airwaves) favours Russia: its entire diplomacy is geared to divide and alienate.
Six weeks ago, at the 15th BRICS Summit in South Africa, president Cyril Ramaphosa pushed hard to speed up the entry of a series of failed states whose presence in what was initially supposed to be an alliance of Southern economic powerhouses makes no sense: Afghanistan, Algeria, Belarus, Ethiopia, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. Putin spoke on a television link from Moscow, but his hard-working Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was working the aisles in support.
No wonder: the entire BRICS notion was the 1990s brainchild of Lavrov’s predecessor (later Russian PM), Yevgeny Primakov, with the avowed aim to “diversify” and extend the reach of Russian foreign policy. Those countries’ silence on the Ukraine war has been deafening; they now express full support to Israel’s enemies.
Russia’s highest competence, from the times of the Okhrana secret police, long before the Soviet era, has always been in influence and propaganda. From the “better red than dead” 1980s demonstrations against the deployment of Pershing missiles, to today’s woke muppets siding with gangs that would slit their throat in an instant, it arms the West’s enemies.
The Non-Aligned Movement always worked towards this goal; and its 2.0 incarnation, this unholy alliance of dictatorships, police states, bankrupt states, kleptocracies and corrupt aid recipients relishes the opportunity to take down a West they envy. They invented an endlessly whining anti-colonial narrative to seduce our own young and our lazy bureaucracies.
There are reasonable voices among the BRICS, but they are, if anything, worried that their own citizens will be seduced by the politics of resentment and endless hatred into ignoring the only “secrets” of the West: hard work, creativity, freedom of speech and dissent, and a capacity to admit our own mistakes. Let’s not hand them an easy victory.