Quote of the day 14th March 2022

 This was the epitaph of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour by the IJN admiral who planned it:

Until February, the 21st century's sleeping giant was the West. If we don't want this century to go down the same path of carnage that the last one did, we must make sure that the same quote is the epitaph for Putin's invasion of Ukraine so that no leader of Russia, the People's Republic of China, or any other country thinks they can get away with the unprovoked invasion of a peaceful neighbour.

Lest anyone misunderstand what I mean by this, nobody is suggesting that NATO should start the third world war. What the Western nations should do was put very well indeed in the interview which I linked to yesterday of Stephen Kotkin by David Remnick of the New Yorker, published under the title "The Weakness of the Despot."

As Kotkin pointed out, where you are confronting a nuclear power such as Russia or China you tend for very good reasons to reach for economic sanctions rather than military o but some of those are very powerful, including one tactic we have yet made much noise about but which should probably be higher on our list of sanctions to apply, restrictions on the export of high technology.

It is fairly evident that among the things which came as an unpleasant surprise to President Putin was the strength of the reaction of the rest of the world to his invasion of Ukraine. As Stephen Kotkin says,

"The biggest surprise for Putin, of course, was the West. All the nonsense about how the West is decadent, the West is over, the West is in decline, how it’s a multipolar world and the rise of China, et cetera: all of that turned out to be bunk. The courage of the Ukrainian people and the bravery and smarts of the Ukrainian government, and its President, Zelensky, galvanized the West to remember who it was. And that shocked Putin!"

Before February this year, governments of all parties both in Britain and most of our allies were far too complacent about the Putin government in particular and several other dangerous hostile regimes. I believe that the vast majority of people have been jolted out of that complacency by the invasion of Ukraine: we have to make sure we learn the lesson, take action against dirty money and cyber interference, and don't slip back into complacency again.


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