David Aaronovitch has written a provoking think piece in today’s Times. It’s all about how Keith Allen, the brilliant actor, is presenting a satire show on RT, formerly Russia Today. We had a Russophile in my family, in addition to a bit of German and a lot of Jew, and I’ve taken to researching the place. It’s 100 years since Lenin’s socialist revolution, so a good time for this. I mean, the Kremlin looks just like Disney World. It can’t be as bad as you think?
I meet many Russians on my now-famous spy tours in London. I find myself sheepishly adjusting the nuance in my Litvinenko story. Tippy-toeing around the origins of the Bulgarian umbrella laced with ricin. In even more, but smaller ways, I find myself a spokesperson for the anti-Russia American Intelligence Community, whatever that is. No more. Russia is our natural ally. They defeated Nazism at our side. They fought Germany in WW1, which absolutely everyone forgets. In the person of Gorbachev, they cut back their nuclear arsenal. No, Russia is not the enemy.
Some people who have thought more about this name Putin: he is our enemy. They are also wrong. Make no mistake, Putin is no nice guy. But you see, since you elected Trump, your moral high ground has sunk. There really isn’t anywhere left to hide. If you hadn’t done that, we could have limped along with your ‘Putin is evil’ stuff for a while longer.
What I learned this week is that the British sold Rolls Royce jet engines to the Russians just prior to the last Korean war. We didn’t like it, but you left us in such trouble after WW2 that we really didn’t have any money. To pacify you, we inserted a contractual clause: the engines must be used for civilian planes. And they were, most of them. But Russia being Russia, they took a few apart and applied brute force. They developed a better engine from what they learned and inserted it into the MiG-15, which wiped the floor with you over Korea. That really hurt. But it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t punished and ignored your main ally after WW2. So you kind of deserved that.
What this excellent BBC documentary, Cold War, Hot Jets, demonstrated afresh for me is that Britain has always been stuck between America and Russia, and at times we’ve not known who to support for the best. It’s not easy being David when there are two Goliaths hoving across the plain. What you sometimes forget is that Russia is a fuck sight closer than you are. If they go tits up, we’re in the firing line. By the time they reach you, we’ll already be gone.
And so to Aaronovitch, who always writes well. But he has erred this time. He mistakenly refers to Russia dividing ‘The West’ as though there is such a thing. Even worse than ‘The Public’ which means less than nothing, because The West doesn’t just refer to everyone in the country, as The Public does, but everyone in every capitalist country outside Russia and China. For The West really means ‘all our allies including South Africa and Australia which isn’t in the west and not even in the north.’
The West does not exist, as the East does not exist. Everyone living today in a state which somehow provides them food and shelter, one way or another, is on our side. It’s those randy buggers in the desert you need to worry about.
And doesn’t Aaronovitch sound a little bit Russian too?