What a day, what a week. We’ve been here before yet every time feels slightly different. There is nothing more dangerous than an ageing dictator who feels like he (or she, if it is ever or will ever be she) has nothing to lose. Two of them together at the same time must surely be a recipe for World War Three. But there is hope, friends.

We’ve mentioned before that there is no such thing as The West. In the same way, there can be no such thing as America, Britain or France. Therefore there is no Russia or Syria or Iran. It is plainly false to claim that every single person inside the arbitrary boundaries of a nation can possibly think the same way on every issue from meat welfare to chemical weapons. It is the people of Russia to whom we send our love.

What Salisbury opened up, and the recent gas attack in Syria has confirmed, is that Putin, for all his early promise, has crossed the floor to the side of North Korea. Little fat rocket man, or whatever we are supposed to call him, is so absurd and easy to caricature that there is very little serious debate about him as a politician. “They do things differently in that part of China,” we say, shrugging and trying not to smirk. “His rockets don’t even work.”

And what is a rocket man without rockets? Answer: something less than just a man.

The Russian government, who we now have to separate from their long-suffering electorate, if the word is not a caricature, have now joined the land of Lewis Carroll. Not content with making up more conspiracy theories than their propaganda wagon RT can peddle at one time, they started quoting English literature at the United Nations. Tellingly, they didn’t bother to reference their own sorry novels. The only one we have heard of is War and Peace, and that really sums it up too succinctly to draw attention to.

Now they claim the chlorine gas, or chlorine + nerve agent, attack in Syria did not happen. When it is finally proved that it did happen, their line will shift again, as it has already started to do. Just as Britain poisoned the Skripals, they claim, Britain staged the Syrian gas attack. But for what motive? “We do not know,” they say. “It is not for us to guess the antics of our ancient enemy.”

Anyway, good news. Russia now has the capability to fully thwart any attack on Syria from the West. Whatever we can do, they can do too. Quite strange then, that someone forgot to switch it on last night. An incredible oversight. Or perhaps it just doesn’t exist. Like The West, and The East. Strange too, that Russia’s PR response to very successful and concentrated air strikes last night is to claim that all Tomahawk cruise missiles used by The West were intercepted successfully by, incredible though it sounds, the rickety Syrian air force. Well, perhaps that is true. Sooner or later even the liar accidentally spews truth.

Where is Iran in all of this? Watching from the sidelines, maintaining dignity. Not for them a Lewis Carroll travesty in New York, not for them silly tweets. Iran, disagree with them though we must, are behaving like the Old Russia, the one we grudgingly admired. The Russia of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The Russia of world order and gentlemanly cold warfare. Come back, USSR. All is forgiven.

And a look over our shoulder towards the past gives us hope for the future. Every president, even the baddy dictators, have a shelf life. We can take heart that most of them end up even more lonely than the democratically elected leaders. Some of them are done in by their own people, and they’re the lucky ones. Britain is not an old enemy of Russia, they have been allies for much longer, through the centuries. We have been friends with Russia longer than we have been friends with France or Germany. Yes, it was Stalin who took Russia on the wrong path. Or rather, the other path. Gorbachev showed the way back to the light, and Putin ruined everything.

If Putin is the rocket man of the near East, take heart. For what is a rocket man without any rockets?


We found the brilliant cartoon over on Cartoon Movement.Image courtesy of cartoon movement

About Author

P. C. Dettmann is the London bureau chief and contributing editor at The Z Review. Born in Hull, living in London, he is the author of Locksley: A New Spy, Ernest Zevon, and as Paul Charles, From Beyond Belief and Kicking Tin. He indulges his love of espionage by running spy tours for Airbnb.

1 Comment

  1. Sydney Dincher on

    “Sorry [Russian] novels” no one has heard of? Literary junk like “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Crime and Punishment,” “Anna Karenina,” and “Fathers and Sons”??? What a jaw-droppingly ignorant statement–I’d suggest that this author make like Prince Mishkin (which would be a vast improvement) and read “The Idiot” before World War III gets rolling in earnest.

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