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Monday 17 August 2015

Brown's right, Corbyn will 'ally' with Putin

See below for why I am illustrating this post with cute ducklings. Pic by Lou Bueno.

It is really so pathetic and demonstrative of this Labour leadership election that it is only now we get the 'calling out' of Corbyn on Putin - and it's from Gordan Brown and it's done in this slight, sideways fashion. On Sunday Brown said:
I have to say that if our global alliances are going to be alliances with Hezbollah and Hamas and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, there is absolutely no chance of building a world-wide alliance that can deal with poverty and inequality and climate change and financial instability, and we’ve got to face up to that fact.
This has drawn the predictably furious comments and one in particular from my comrade Andrew Coates* deserves a response. Andrew wrote that:
Corbyn has, however ill-chosen some of his words have been, never suggested an “alliance” with these forces.
But Brown is right. Corbyn's anti-Americanism means that in something like the UN vote on a tribunal for those responsible (which would be the Kremlin) for bringing down the Malaysian airliner MH17 how would the UK vote? Presumably we would abstain? -- That is being in 'alliance' with Russia.

There is far more to it of course but the minute Corbyn wrote about Russia being "provoked" over Ukraine that meant he was buying into their whole spiel, their whole shtick. -- That is being in 'alliance' with Russia.

In saying that Poland (and the Baltic states, one assumes) should not 'have been allowed' to join NATO -- that is being in 'alliance' with Russia.

There is no formal agreement between the Kremlin and Marine LePen - and if you talk about the multi-million Euro bank loan they go crazy claiming it's just business - but of course the National Front are in 'alliance' with the Kremlin, they demonstrate it in the European Parliament. Same goes for Syriza or Der Linke, or UKIP for that matter. And Corbyn, here's him telling Russia Today he agrees with those voting against sanctions against Russia in the Parliament.

Brown should have nailed it - he had long enough time to! - but he did not, so Corbyn can carry on pretending to be the peacemaker, the one-who-sits-on-fences. Aided by the media, (including the left media) who are - let's be honest - giving Jeremy a soft soaping on Russia.

And Corbyn has made a lot of, frankly, stupid and ignorant statements. Take for instance this interview with Russia Today from June last year. Two weeks before MH17 he was claiming that Russia had 'withdrawn' and he was complaining about 'planes bombing people'. Has he once, on that channel, condemned Russian involvement? Of course not. -- That is 'allying' with Russia!

Russia Today, by the way, are falling over themselves to give Corbyn wall-to-wall positive coverage (as they did Ron Paul in the last US Presidential election). Here Russia 'allies' with Corbyn!

Meanwhile, the war in the Donbas continues with Russia building new bases and sending in new weapons and shelling more villages and towns.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 50 ducklings from Ukraine were burnt alive in what the Russian siege liberal TV news channel Dozhd suggested was a 'demonstrative act'. Just think for a second about what's being 'demonstrated' in that vile act and by and to whom.

This follows the Pythonesque treatment by officials in the village of Apastovo, in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, some 800 kilometres east of Moscow, of three 'illegal' frozen geese from a local shop.

On July 29, President Putin signed an executive decree ordering the destruction of sanctioned food imports. His order, however, was short on details about how exactly officials are meant to carry out this massive undertaking.

So, in the 'Power Vertical' country that is Russia various state actors and agencies have used all manner of available resources to burn, bulldoze, and bury hundreds of tons of boycotted food to attempt to obey Putin's wishes - and videoed the process to prove their loyalty. This is happening despite near universal opposition, 85% according to polling, as Russians have a thing about wasting food, given their history, and Russia has at least 23 million people living in dire poverty.

The 'illegal' frozen geese were then taken to a nearby landfill site where they were run over by a bulldozer several times and then moved to a rubbish tip.

Here's the short version of the surreal video (there's a longer one where the bureaucracy goes on forever):

The Russian internet has since exploded with geese memes.

Writes Halya Colnash:
[Radio Svoboda] have a quiz with which the reader can test their understanding of what 500 tonnes of food [the amount then said to have been destroyed] could achieve if not destroyed.

It could feed over 333 thousand people for a day (the population of Oryol). Each of the 23 million people living beyond subsistence level would receive 22 grams of food; while the 605 thousand disabled children in Russia could have each received 826 grams of food. The latter may not seem very much but it could have included the peaches or other fruit the many children growing up in institutions have probably never seen.

In February this year an 81-year-old ‘blokadnitsa’ – survivor of the Siege of Leningrad died in a St. Petersburg police station of a heart attack. She had been detained in a shop and ‘handed over’ to the police after a few packets of butter were found in her bag. It turned out – too late – that she had not even been trying to take them without paying, though how anybody could call the police even if there had been intention to steal is impossible to understand. There are hundreds of thousands of elderly people in Russia scarcely able to afford the most basic foodstuffs these days, let alone the ham, cheese, peaches, tomatoes, etc. that Putin has ordered destroyed.

Moscow’s effective abandonment earlier this year of two Russian military officers captured in Ukraine should have been a lesson to Russians of how the regime treats those it is sending to fight and die in Ukraine. It was a lesson, however, for a relatively small audience. This time the Kremlin’s leaders have demonstrated their indifference for the entire population.
What Chekists do
Some have wondered whether this wanton food destruction might just be Putin's 'Katrina moment' - recall how Americans first really turned on Bush over his incompetent treatment of New Orleans after the 2005 hurricane. But I'm not so sure anything similar will happen with Putin.

Immediately after he became President Vladimir Vladimirovich had his own disaster to deal with, the sinking of the Kursk submarine. Putin was widely blamed by Russians st the time for refusing international help to rescue the survivors of an explosion on board. We just had the 15th anniversary and, as if by magic, Russians no longer blame Putin.

Notes the BBC's Sarah Rainsford:
Most news reports about the disaster on Wednesday were short and low down the bulletins, and all hint of blame and criticism had vanished.

The reports primarily marked the men's passing and the fact that they received the Order of Courage posthumously.
Many of the bereaved actually now believe that the Americans caused the disaster.

It is as if the Kremlin is doing to the entire country what it did to one bereaved mother at the time - drugging them,

Says Vadim Dovnar, of Kyiv’s Novy Region-2 news agency the shift in blame on the Kursk disaster reflects Vladimir Putin’s success in creating “a parallel reality” about his world and drawing ever more Russians into it.

It is a fantasy world of 'provocation' and 'NATO surrounds us' and 'the Americans will invade' that Jeremy Corbyn has also been drawn into. These are the Chekists that Corbyn wants us to 'ally' with. Brown was in his own cumbersome way totally right.


* Coates has written about Corbyn's proposals on policy formation when he is leader, noting that Corbyn wants a change from the current "presidential model of politics in which the leader and their office comes up with all the policies." This partly answers my concerns about foreign policy under Corbyn.

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