Category Archives: International

Obama’s support for inhumanity means Nobel Prize must be removed

It was a crazy decision to award Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize before he had done anything. It devalued the prize at the time. It renders it utterly pointless now.

The 2009 award was yet another of those bizarre times when so much of humanity – particularly on the left, but not exclusively – get caught worshipping someone as almost a new Messiah when there is no evidence even to suggest basic competence. So it was when Obama was elected – purely because he was eloquent he was going to bring peace, democracy and fair play to the entire planet, apparently. I wonder how those who fell for the charisma and omitted to check for any competence feel now, as he blatantly endorses the IDF’s terror in Gaza?

It is all very well picking on Israel, but Israelis are informed by the most atrocious trauma in human history – they respond so outrageously and obviously disproportionately because they are, collectively, psychologically disturbed by that. The one country, in fact, that has both the power and psychological balance to end the horror in Gaza – right now – is the United States. And the one man who could order it is Barack Obama.

“We will reach out our hand, if you unclench your fist”, he said at his first inauguration. Get this – he was lying! He is no different from anyone else – interest before principle. It’s time to withdraw his prize, and place a black mark next to his place in history.

You don’t “defend yourself” by creating martyrs and encouraging terror

Okay, reluctantly, I’m going to bite and enter into the Middle East “debate”…

Like most people who have actually visited Israel and the Occupied Territories (i.e. both, albeit in my case the West Bank not Gaza), my first response to the all too regular outbreaks of murdering and maiming in the region is human concern. These are by and large fine, diligent, fun people who just want to get on but realise they are pawns in somebody else’s game. It doesn’t help to “take sides” partly because dividing the world into “goodies” and “baddies” is generally neither helpful nor legitimate, but mainly because it creates the view that this is some sort of sport where we have “our team” and “their team”. Actually hundreds of human lives are being wasted, and thousands of friends and relatives are being left in despair. It is more helpful to show concern at innocent lives being wasted through the actions of warmongering idiots than to pick a side on the basis of national or religious affiliation.

Closer to home, of course, we have the particular and frankly unbelievably irritating spectacle of thousands of people who have never been near the Middle East picking their “side” to legitimise their view of Northern Ireland rather than the basics of democracy, the Rule of Law and Fair Play. It is borderline pathetic to see people pick “Palestine” or “Israel” in the precise same way they pick “Celtic” or “Rangers”, and then justify or condemn everything from that ill-defined and frankly ridiculous position. It was the Israelis who kicked the British out in pursuit of a national homeland, and the Palestinians who (generally) seek partition, but, well, you know…

My good friend Richard Price pointed out the outrageous offence these parallels cause. The Army and RUC may have done some bad and illegal things, but they never carpet-bombed Newry; so shame on those who endorse equivalent actions elsewhere. Many people on all sides may have suffered from terror, but never on the scale of those on the Israeli/Palestinian border right now and on countless previous occasions; so stop pretending we “understand”. Most of all, we were never blatantly pawns in a global game, powerless in reality to do anything about our own society’s future – as we proved in 1998.

Then of course there’s the “well-meaning” but in the end almost equally non-sensical attempt to propose solutions which apparently “worked” elsewhere, which almost always involve for some reason involve South Africa. Let us leave aside the complete coincidence that Mandela’s release came five months after the Fall of the Wall (when the West no longer needed the White South Africans to defend Southern Africa from Communism) and 15 years after the ANC more clearly defined its goals and means of attaining them through popular protest and internal sanctions of a kind. Get this: South Africa is South Africa; Northern Ireland is Northern Ireland; and Israel/Palestine is Israel/Palestine.

Of course, there are universals in seeking peace and democracy, but so determined are we all to take “sides” or make “parallels” which happen to suit us that we tend to miss them. Firstly, if you want peace, it’s a good idea to stop killing each other; anyone doing so is to be condemned without reservation no matter what – and, for the record, you certainly don’t create peace by bombing hospitals and murdering children (an inevitable consequence of current Israeli action, no matter whose narrative it suits). Secondly, there’s more to democracy than voting – if people vote Likud or Hamas, be clear you’re not moving towards democracy (see above). Thirdly, and here’s the real biggie, people need to be motivated to seek peace – never underestimate the power of a populist seeking to justify violence for their own (not their people’s) ends.

On Israel/Palestine I will say this: we are all complicit in demotivating those who seek peace. The West has clearly decided that it is in its interests to prop up Israel, no matter how many children it murders; or even dare I suggest to promote instability in the Middle East no matter how many millions of lives it costs. I can only guess at the reasons for that, but I would guess they are at least indirectly almost all to do with oil. Until we in the West decide it’s actually in our interests to seek a degree of stability in the Holy Land through actions not words – and to deal with the short-term economic penalty (presumably a rising cost of living) to do so – we can put out all the hashtags we like, nothing will change. Honestly, I don’t expect to live to see that day – sadly.

Real German lesson: say yes to austerity!

It is an incredible thing – and indicative of how it has become entirely confused – that the “Left” repeatedly used the word “austerity” and does so with the supposedly automatic contention that it is a bad thing.

This is the same “Left” of course, which rightly argues against “excess”. It is indeed an outrage that City Execs get paid 180 times the average wage; that entertainers get such ludicrous recompense on the licence payer or the commercial viewer; or even in some cases that senior quangocrats get so much. Here’s the thing – the opposite of “excess” is, er, “austerity”.

Germany doesn’t get everything right by any means, but it is hard to dispute its recent sporting and economic success. Such success is not down to chance. One of the prime reasons for it is that Germany is a vastly more austere country and society than the UK, France or Spain.

Even in football this shows. The BBC and ITV both had a main presenter, a stadium presenter, a main commentator, a co-commentator, three studio pundits and usually also a stadium pundit – eight, in total. German TV tends to make do with one presenter, one pundit and one commentator – three!

Another obvious area is supermarkets. The big Tesco or Carrefour superstores of the UK and France are replaced in Germany by Lidl, Aldi and others very similar – based on the recognition that it is pointless to pay, in effect, to pay for the privilege of looking at products you’re not going to buy in the name of “choice”. It is the austere German version which is now coming to the fore in the UK and France, not he other way around.

The same applies to housing. While the social housing argument centres around the age at which children should not share a room in the UK, even the children of German professionals often share into their teens; thirtysomething Germans may still live in single-room flats; ownership in the exception in Germany, not the norm.

This austerity works, therefore. Underlying the German social model is the notion of what suffices, not what shows off. As a result, there’s rather more to go around – because, as a direct result of the promotion of austerity as a good thing, outrageous excess is frowned upon. Even successful businesses or indeed football clubs are absolutely expected to maintain community links and loyalty.

This is of course a consequence to a large degree of German history, particularly the lessons of the last War and its immediate aftermath, in which social and economic ruin was the prospect. Whatever about that, the simple fact remains in 2024 that all of these things are good and admirable – and austere. Austerity is a good thing. In this of all weeks, there is a German lesson we can all learn.


England won’t learn German lesson

It was the most astonishing series in international football I had ever seen. For a team of such serious World Cup heritage to concede four goals so easily, without offering any resistance and in such a mentally fragile state, was a truly unbelievable sight to behold. I am speaking, of course, of Germany – specifically Germany’s throwing away of a four-goal lead in the last half an hour in a World Cup qualifier at home to Sweden to draw 4-4 barely eighteen months ago.

Much is already being written about Germany’s World Cup triumph, and mostly correctly: it was a triumph of youth development; of involving clubs in the national team’s development; of top-quality coaching at every level; of promoting the game with a community sense and not just a business one. Yet another point is often missed – namely Germany’s remarkable ability to perform when it really counts.

This is a German team which recently lost at home to Australia; which got stuffed two years ago at home by the same Argentine team it beat in this year’s Final; which is decidedly average even in the occasional competitive qualifier. Yet it has appeared in every World Cup quarter-final since 1954 – a scarcely believable statistic, especially when added to a joint-record three European Championship wins in that period.

In fact, since 1954, Germany’s overall win-loss record is scarcely better than England’s. Yet Germany has now won the World Cup twice as often as England has even reached the semi-final; since 1966, Germany has reached the Final as often as England has reached the quarter-final.

There is a specific skill, even within tournaments, to managing performance – one the Germans have mastered. Take a quick glance at World Cup history and note how even Germany’s group games follow the same basic pattern – usually an opening win to get off the mark, followed by an average second game (sometimes even a defeat), and then the result required to get through; alternatively, if they happen to win the second game, they’ll often lose the third (to, say, Denmark or even in one case East Germany!) The team then begins to gather pace through to, and usually beyond, the quarter-final.

Even if the English got the youth development right, the coaching right and the club linkage right (and there is evidence they are getting somewhere with the first two of these at least), there is little evidence they understand how to be a Turniermannschaft – how to manage a competition and the level of preparation (mental and physical) required.

Thus, we should probably expect Germany’s fifth star before England’s second.

England needs to move faster to avoid further embarrassment

The fact that Roy Hodgson had more success with Switzerland than with England shows beyond any remotely reasonable doubt where the problem with English football lies – and it’s not with the manager.

The problem lies in a single German phrase. “Den Ball englisch kicken“, loosely translated, means “to kick the ball English”, but is used to refer to an aimless hoof upfield. That sums it all up.

For half a century now, the English have been both technically and tactically inferior from the very start. As I have written many times before, the problem is not that there are too many foreigners in the Premier League, but rather and specifically that English players are not good enough to play in it.

The new academy at St George’s will help, and the number of coaches being brought through is very impressive. However, I suspect still too many English players will grow up playing 11-a-side rather than small games (that’s when they’ve dragged themselves away from the X-box to play at all); and as a result they will grow up relying on the “big bloke up front”. That leads not only to technical deficiencies, but also tactical ones. Watch how England’s plan to draw level against Uruguay consisted of whacking it down the flanks and hoisting it into the box over and over again. There is a combination of a lack of trust in their technical ability to do something more creative and accurate than that; and there is no tactical notion about how to draw another team out of position and play around or through them.

I cannot help but think that even these deficiencies would not be magnified so brutally at the highest level if England had its players’ mental preparation right. I found it truly bizarre, for example, that preparation for the big game against Uruguay included talks from senior players about how awful it is to go out of a big tournament. Surely that’s mad?!

With a population of 53 million and the richest domestic league in the world, there can be no excuses. There should be less time spent on daft B-team leagues and more time spent on real youth development.

Tuam children graves show Ireland’s dark side

Independent Ireland has an extremely dark side. Events of recent days around the discovery of a mass burial site in a children’s home in Co Galway show this; and also, more hauntingly, they show how unwilling modern Ireland is to admit it and face up to it.

In the early 1920s, the scourge of partition created not one sectarian state on the island of Ireland, but two – in each, not just one, thousands of lives were lost as a result.

Just as the Covenant heralded not a glorious multi-cultural Union but rather a parochial Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people, the Easter Rising heralded not a free and fair Republic but an ugly new theocratic state in which the Catholic Church played many dark roles – including, it turns out, the effective murder of hundreds of children. What kind of sick place was that?

The 1990s and the Celtic Tiger saw Ireland transformed beyond recognition, and not just economically. Everything Irish became cool – Irish music dominated the airwaves, Irish broadcasters and actors dominated the screens, Irish pubs dominated streets from Siberia to South Africa. It was easy to justify Irish history on the basis of modern success.

Yet what was remarkable, as Malachi O’Doherty pointed out, was that the discovery on 800 children’s graves created well within many people’s lifetimes was not the main headline everywhere. On Northern Ireland channels, not averse to covering events in the Republic, the discovery was almost completely ignored. It did not appear to be mentioned on main BBC news at all. It soon slipped off even RTÉ’s front page. There were only some honourable exceptions.

Being generous, perhaps the sheer scale of the horror is too terrible for people to contemplate. However, I’m not sure we should be generous. There does seem to be an alarming feature of modern Irishness which sees fit to point to dark episodes of other countries’ and nations’ histories while utterly ignoring Ireland’s own – even when they are within living memory and there is still time to investigate them thoroughly. To be clear, this was not just some “rogue element”, but one of a multitude of similar horrors in newly independent Ireland to which the Church, the authorities and frankly the people deliberately turned a blind eye.

It is clear that both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland need to find a way to deal with the past – and one in which the interests of the victims, not the perpetrators, come first.

The politics of the “gene pool”

One correspondent recently suggested we don’t have “enough choice” among political parties in Northern Ireland – ignoring the fairly obvious point that we have a five-party system and a sprinkling of other options giving us more choice than pretty much anyone else in Western Europe.

The correspondent then suggested that the problem was (I paraphrase) that we lack left-wing Unionist parties and right-wing Nationalist parties. That’s because such parties wouldn’t get anywhere – if they would, they would exist!

Ultimately, this comes down to the fundamental crux of people’s misunderstanding about electoral politics – it is surprisingly irrational, being based primarily on our “gene pool” (i.e. the cultural heritage in which we grew up).

In other words, Northern Ireland is not unique in having tribal politics. The well-off family in Crosby will still vote Labour; the squeezed middle in Folkestone will still vote Conservative. In the Republic of Ireland, they quite openly talk of “gene-pool Fianna Fail” or “gene-pool Fine Gael” (often with reference to independents who have broken away), in much the same way that the late and much missed David McClarty remained “gene-pool Ulster Unionist”.

Selecting a political party for most (by no means all, but definitely most) is almost like selecting a football team – you go through your ups and downs, you reach the end of your tether with the manager and players, but you support them nonetheless. I myself am an obvious example of the problem – in Great Britain I am “gene-pool Conservative”; in Northern Ireland I am “gene-pool Alliance”. My (English) father made it up from his boot straps, orphaned at five to quintessential middle-class at fifty; that’s the “gene-pool Conservative”; my (Northern Irish) mother had parents who were pro-British but never Orange, who promoted her study (as a woman this was well ahead of their time in Northern Ireland in the early ’50s), and who had no difficulty with her homosexual friends even when homosexuality was illegal; that’s the “gene-pool Alliance”. For all the rational thought I give to it, my instincts and biases were formed by my “gene pool” – I can at least be honest about it!

The choice we have is indeed limited somewhat by our collective gene pool. Social Conservatism is part of the Unionist tradition (as I have long argued, there are actually no “Liberal Unionists” – you’re one or the other); progressivism (in the broadest sense) is part of the Republican political tradition. This is inevitable, as Unionists seek to defend a position which Republicans seek to change. It doesn’t make much sense to outsiders – but then Fianna Fail and Fine Gael don’t make much sense to outsiders; Democrat and Republican don’t make much sense to outsiders; the lack of a Spanish Liberal party of any meaningful size doesn’t make much sense to outsiders.

The correspondent also mentioned Belgium – but Belgium makes his very point. The poorer French speakers, full of natural desire for income redistribution and centralism, vote for Socialists; the richer Dutch speakers, keen to maintain the wealth they view themselves to have created, vote for Conservatives and Liberals (and Flemish Nationalists). It is in fact a classic example of a divide where culture, economics and politics reinforce each other – just like our own.

Of course, we tend to maintain social circles of similar gene pools. This is why political change is invariably slow (to the point of turning many people off politics altogether), because we rarely spend time building coalitions for it outside our own gene pool (comfort zone). In Northern Ireland, it is also why Unionists haven’t noticed that Nationalists have overtaken them in Belfast City Council; why Nationalists can’t grasp why Unionists don’t see the innate benefit of their cause; and why Progressives think they are about to make a massive breakthrough for which there is actually no evidence (while Unionists think Progressives are about to sink without trace when in fact their vote is clearly being at least maintained).

It is also why people of lower educational attainment are in fact less likely to vote for change and why those of higher educational attainment are more inclined to soft-left options (those of higher educational attainment being the ones most likely to consider voting rationally rather than merely according to gene pool).

In the end, it’s why we profess to be fed up with politics – yet continue, largely, to vote the same way as we always did or not at all!


I disagree with Anna Lo on United Ireland

Anna Lo’s comments two weeks ago on the long-term future of Northern Ireland caused a furore when she said, in a personal capacity, that she thought it should unite with the Republic of Ireland.

Since I share Anna Lo’s social liberal stance on most issues, I will have no difficulty giving her my first preference vote, and campaigning for her. But I have to say I take issue with her explicit view that Northern Ireland would economically, politically and socially be better off uniting with the rest of the island.

So I guess I should come off the fence and state clearly an unequivocally where I stand. It is quite clear that, economically politically and socially, Northern Ireland should become the seventeenth state of Germany.

Economically, the case is quite simple. Over the past decade, German economic growth has been by far the fastest in Europe. German unemployment is also low at 5% (even youth unemployment is only around 7%), so you can take that map of unemployment in Ireland and shove it! Of all the parts of Germany, living standards have risen fastest in the five Eastern States, newly added to the Federal Republic in 1990. That is the type of growth which would also await Northern Ireland – except better, because DeLoreans are better than Trabants.

Politically, the case is even more compelling. Far from having to merge laws with the Republic or make up some new, unprecedented “Federal Ireland”, Northern Ireland would be joining what is already a Federal Republic – its domestic laws, legal system and education arrangements could remain unchanged, managed from the existing Northern Ireland Assembly (Nordirischer Landestag) in Belfast.

Even socially, in terms of identity, it makes sense too. Unionists will know what the Duke of Schomberg came from what is now Schaumburg, which is already in Germany. To seal the deal, Nationalists effectively get a United Ireland anyway – after all, the Republic has effectively been governed from Berlin and Frankfurt since 2008.

Northern Ireland would be one of the smaller States of Germany, of course, but far from the smallest – Hamburg is about the same size; Bremen and Saarland (itself transferred from France in the late ’50s – so a clear precedent, just in case anyone was thinking this proposal odd) are considerably smaller.

By the way, when it comes to sport, never mind a united Ireland football team – what about joining with Germany? In fact, it’s only right given that the penalty kick, which they have since perfected, was invented in County Armagh in 1891. “Wir sind nicht Brasilien, wir sind tatsaechlich besser” (“We’re not Brazil, we’re actually better”) would no doubt soon become a fans’ favourite.

Would the Germans want us? Well, probably not. But we should at least try, making the point that dealing with us would at least give them a break from having to deal with the Greeks once in a while.

The case is clear. Vorsprung durch Wheaten Bannock, as they whisper in Lurgan…

Meanwhile, in Catalonia…

“Everyone knows the Catalans want independence; they just don’t like to talk about it”. I had the great fortune to visit Catalonia on average every other year from 1992 to 2008, in almost every mode – business, conference, leisure, staying with a family. That sentence summed up the mood with regard to its constitutional position. However, since 2008, the changes have apparently been dramatic – I am always cautious about judging such things from afar.

Where once the impression I got was that most people there sought a federal state, or simply fiscal autonomy (as the Basques enjoy under age-old Charters), the polls and even the street demonstrations now point plainly to a desire for outright independence. My understanding is that this sentiment increased markedly upon the new centre-right Spanish Government’s insistence in 2010 on striking down aspects of the new Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia, agreed in 2006. Specifically, it sought to strike down aspects of it which were the same as neighbouring Valencia, but did not seek to do so in Valencia’s case. Catalans were outraged – and fully a third of them turned out at a single demonstration to show it.

That’s where it appears to get tricky, however. “Independence” isn’t a straightforward thing. How do you secure your markets in the rest of Spain? How do you fund, recruit and train your new diplomatic corps? How, even, do you ensure FC Barcelona can continue to play in La Liga? It is all very well to have your own national, linguistic and sporting identity – but what about the practical stuff?

The parallels are obvious. Why is nobody thinking?!

*Southwest* Ukraine may be next for Russia

Russian troops massing on East Ukrainian border – US says they may be preparing to invade” scream the headlines.

I doubt it. Russians are subtler than that; and in any case East Ukraine is not next.

A decade ago I spent part of the summer on a pro-democracy mission in Moldova, the outstanding aspect of which was a series of meetings in the breakaway region of Transnistria (variously spelled and even named depending on linguistic preference).


At the very outset of all of this I mentioned Transnistria, and watched in astonishment as almost no one else did! Remember, its existence essentially amounts to the occupation of part of the sovereign territory of Moldova by Russian troops, and has done since 1997 (the date after which Russia had agreed to withdraw them).

Now Transnistria is mentioned, but only in the incredibly simplistic way that it is “majority Russian-speaking”. I scarcely heard anything other than Russian there, admittedly, but then I scarcely heard anything other than Russian on the streets of Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova’s capital city. As I wrote last yet, it just isn’t that straightforward – and the media shouldn’t present it as such!

A little like Crimea, most of Transnistria was simply shifted from one Soviet Republic to another during the Soviet era (effectively, therefore, between what were seen as internal “States”) – in this case from Ukraine into Moldova. The rest of what is now the Republic of Moldova had been taken by the Soviet Union in 1940 during World War Two (western Moldova wasn’t – it remains part of Romania).

As was frequently the case, people were moved about in the Soviet Union, and those being moved typically adopted Russian as their first language regardless of ethnic origin or perceived nationality (as Russian was the Union’s language of business and administration). As a result the Republic of Moldova, essentially Romanian-speaking from a linguistic point of view, developed a large Russian-speaking minority – of course, those moving went primarily to the cities, and thus often became a majority (not least because Russian was simply more useful than Romanian to just about any resident of the Soviet Union).

Transnistria, of course, hadn’t really been Romanian-speaking to start with; it was actually Ukrainian-speaking if anything. However, a combination of Moldovans moving within their home Republic into its new zone (transferred precisely because it was industrial and thus provided the otherwise largely agrarian Moldova with an industrial hub), and Russian-speakers moving in from elsewhere in the Union, saw Transnistria become effectively tri-ethnic – about 30% Ukrainian, 30% Moldovan, 30% Russian with a few others making up the remainder (noting that these themselves are crude terms doing a gross injustice to the multiplicity of identities, ethnicities and nationalities really contained within them, not least once two or three generations of inter-marriage are introduced into the equation).

At the end of the Soviet Union, as many newly independent Republics did, Moldova adopted its originally native tongue (essentially Romanian, though some prefer to call it Moldovan and it is in fact referred to officially most often simply as the “Language of the State”), notably switching from Cyrillic script to Latin. There was even talk of union with Romania. As Transnistria did not originate from this, a civil war ensued, resulting in an uneasy truce in 1992 in which Transnistria effectively became an independent state backed by Russia but officially remained recognised as part of the Republic of Moldova. I think it fair to point out that the West has to understand this – it was not unreasonable for Russian troops to remain in 1992 when there was a real risk that Russians elsewhere in Moldova would be absorbed against their will and without cross-community consensus into Romania. However, they agreed in 1994 to leave within three years, and by 1997 the “Greater Romania” issue had passed – yet they are still there.

Transnistria adopted its own language policy, becoming officially tri-lingual but banning Latin script – thus road signs, for example, are in Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian but all in Cyrillic. (In fact, we visited a Transnistrian school which broke this law and taught Romanian in Latin script – it was a horrendously uneasy atmosphere and I was unsurprised to hear that the authorities promptly bulldozed it the following month.)

You can read about Transnistria but you cannot quite grasp the discomfort of the place. The authorities had cut off all phone lines, introduced their own currency, introduced their own stamps (unrecognised internationally, meaning Transnistrians have to leave Transnistria just to post a letter anywhere outside it), stopped dual-band mobile phone access, and it was clear every room we were in was bugged. Soviet statues predominated, militaristic parades were common, and public toilets (such as they were) consisted of a less-than-generous hole in the ground. Entrance to Transnistria itself involved passing two military checkpoints (one of which was openly Russian); there was one road only into and out of any town, and it too had checkpoints. Such was the paranoia of the place, the authorities even sent someone after us to Chisinau 48 hours after our departure to pretend to be an opposition spokesperson agitating fairly and democratically for union with Romania (complete with a Romanian-language T-shirt in Latin script) – even though he spoke only Russian and was obviously acting (literally) for the government.

Here’s the historical thing: contemporary Russia’s particular interest in Ukraine itself dates from Ukraine’s (perceived “anti-Russian” but actually anti-trafficking) decision to insist essentially that any imports into Ukraine from Transnistria be registered with Moldovan authorities – the inevitable response to which was a “referendum” in Transnistria where 97% “opted” for Transnistrian independence in “free association” with Russia. Sound familiar? It is astonishing that anyone reporting or analysing the Crimean situation would have missed this – yet they all did, as far as I saw! However, it must be said that Transnistrians in 2011 were free enough to vote for the wrong guy for President (an ethnic Ukrainian opposed to both main Transnistrian parties, to confuse matters).

Here’s the contemporary thing: Transnistria is already Russian-occupied and funded; and it is to the southwest of Ukraine – but it borders a part of Ukraine on the Black Sea which is comparatively pro-Russian. Geographically this part of Ukraine, centred on Odessa, juts out geographically like Crimea. So, ethnically justifiable on the same grounds as Crimea, historically justifiable similarly, and even geographically justifiable on the map, this all means that Southwest Ukraine is the obvious next stop for Russian “intervention” – not least on the grounds that it would constitute a “reunification of Transnistria with its original hinterland (in fact, Transnistria’s Prime Minister comes from Odessa)” while at the same time “respecting the results of the [aforementioned] 2006 referendum”.

Moldova is, of course, a “brother country” of Romania, which is now part of the EU. If Russia effectively annexes part of an EU member state’s “brother country”, is the EU going to do anything (like, really do anything) about it? What happens if it annexes a bit of the neighbouring sovereign state as well?

No, obviously. We are doing the opposite of what we should be doing. Quite aside from ensuring the linguistic and democratic rights of “Russians” in the Baltic States and as far as possible elsewhere and then putting it up to the Russians to act similarly democratically, we are in fact propping up an unelected government in Kiev allowing the Russians to justify taking away chunks of their territory. And few of the people commentating on these decisions in the Western media and to Western governments have even heard of Transnistria…


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