words on the war

Vladimir Putin

it’s called the despot

(excuse me while I spit) has made the old choice: either be loved or feared, and he has chosen feared.  Firing on mostly women and children on their way to or through what was believed to be a safe corridor is a new low in the Kremlin War, my name for it, because so many Russians are appalled by this international violence, in under and around a state media which has raised brainwashing to habitual consumption. 

But you must remember – dictators don’t fight wars by laws.  They order whatever seems expedient.

I have never been a fan of rolling news

which is described as “a 24 hour a day news service.”   I only  worked in news as a temporary presenter during the Gulf War when I learned that, for a lack of something new, you reshuffled the order of the stories you’d got and read them again.  It is still done. That was the time to push if that was the direction I wanted to go in, and it wasn’t.

If nothing is happening, rolling news is pad pad pad and if something is happening, the watcher is plagued by the feeling he or she might have missed something.   The way news is “made” is a story, and it is not mine to tell, though I am allowed as a consumer to comment on it.

A headline last week read “Ukraine couldn’t have come at a better time for Boris Johnson.”    Forget the parties, forget the wasted public funds and heartbreak.  By all means.  Done is done, forget them.  But DON’T forget lying at the despatch box in the Mother of Parliaments.  The House of Commons may not wish to call it lying but the rest of us can.   Never mind a knighthood for BBFs (Boris’s Best Friends) the former education secretary Gavin Williamson

or a higher honour for the man who owns the Evening Standard and the Independent (!) Evgeny Lebedev.

   Never mind gongs in a dishonoured and devalued system.   Let’s have real praise for those who stand and fight and those who bring us news of them, for reporters under fire who can weave reporting and commentary into an intelligent piece to camera, over and over again.

The senior fellow for land warfare, International Institute for Strategic Studies

has written an update of the battle positions.   A major female columnist

wrote that she was not surprised that many younger women were high in their praise of Ukrainian President Zelensky –  she called it the ”natural human response of a person starved of  examples of honour, decency and courage … when seeing those qualities can still exist in a leader.”   Could we please remember Mrs. Zelensky too, because it is hard to watch someone you love in daily danger?   You’re not invested in him being a hero, you just want him home in one piece for you and your children.

As BBC’s International Correspondent Lyse Doucet remarked recently, this is a very personal war – people found ways to relate to it, through history, through being the parent of a child in need, through the World Judo Federation, through gallows humour – often the best kind.   In the long settled West we live in various degrees of security, enhanced by the solidarity of the buildings where we live  – which lasts just until you see what damage a bomb can do to a pleasant apartment block in a Ukrainian city.   

Two very different friends (both men) have told me of unsettled sleep and bad dreams.  One of them sent me a set of statistics about Ukraine, its oil, its wheat, its manganese: of course the Russian despot wants it raped.   It’s valuable.  The other man bemoaned getting old, being unable to do anything.  I sympathise, being a witness to horror is horrible.

And I have a nightmare too.  In my dream Putin, even older and fuller of filler, comes to London on a state visit.  I cannot see in my dream who is the royal riding with him in the state landau.  (It is part of the royal job, HM has hosted some horrible people.) There are crowds in the streets and not a word, not a sound …

Annalog is all about discussion, so feel free to leave a comment!

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