edward.luce@ft.com on the Western Complicity with Putin. Political Reporter comments

I saw this essay by Mr. Luce last week and have tried to ignore it , yet it keeps returning to my thoughts. Like that grain of sand in an oyster? Perhaps the spectacle of this Neo-Liberal advocate/apologist  pointing to ‘our’ complicity with the scheming indeed murderous Putin,  places the regular reader of Mr. Luce’s jejune political commentaries, that hew to the Neo-Liberal Party Line, into the unintended, by its author, territory of the seriocomic.

The motivations of the US president and British prime minister deserve scrutiny. The brazenness of the nerve agent poisonings in the UK this month made them impossible to ignore. It was as though Mr Putin left his signature.

With this report from The Globe and Mail via Reuters:

Headline:  U.K. research centre can’t yet say if nerve agent was made in Russia

The head of Britain’s military research center said on Tuesday it was unable yet to say whether the military-grade nerve agent that poisoned a Russian double-agent last month had been produced in Russia.

“We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent,” Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down in England, told Sky News.

“We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to.”

However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor.”

He added: “we are continuing to work to help to provide additional information that might help us get closer to [the source] but we haven’t yet been able to do that.”


Even with the caveat of However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor.” Or just call it CYA? Boris Johnson could not be wrong ! Hindsight ? Yet Mr. Luce presented this as fact on what grounds? The word of a government official, now subject to an erasure. Mr. Luce presents a bit of speculative fiction to close his paragraph: It was as though Mr Putin left his signature.  

Not content with just a of bit of what the American CIA dubbed Conspiracy Theory: with the bit between his teeth Mr. Luce, at full gallop:

Perhaps that was because the UK had done so little to investigate at least 14 suspicious Russian deaths on its soil in the previous decade. Many, such as that of the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky in 2013, were written off as suicide. Others were ruled to be from natural causes, such as the 2012 death of whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny.

In many cases, the UK’s Home Office, which was run by Mrs May for six years, dragged its feet. Mrs May refused on national security grounds to release government files to the Perepilichny inquest. This was in spite of the fact that traces of Gelsemium, a toxic plant that induces cardiac arrest, had been found in his body. Those seeking insight into the UK police’s insouciance should read Buzzfeed’s exemplary investigations.

Mr. Luce then adds to this mix a bit of May adoration and its corollary Corbyn shaming:

Britain has now been jolted into a display of resolve. Having corralled a show of western unity, Mrs May is looking good. Compared with Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader and an habitual Russophile, she looks positively Thatcherite. Yet the expulsions will alter little. A large chunk of the value of London property transactions is estimated to be Russian. Too many London banks, real estate agents and luxury service providers thrive on Russian money.

What follows is more of Conspiracy Theory involving Hillary Clinton, Putin believed that she was involved in the 2015 leak of the Panama Papers.  And the mysterious death of  former Putin friend Mikhail Lesin. But not content with this, Mr. Luce offers more of the same:

Is it any surprise Mr Putin has grown so bold? Russia’s attempts to sway the 2016 US election were partly payback for the Panama Papers.

On what evidence does he base his speculation? The charges brought by Hillary Clinton and her allies in the National  Security State apparatus?

Then Mr. Luce, a defender of the Western Liberal Tradition offers this:

On top of that the west offers a dictator’s bargain: the greed of a system that has lost its moral compass. All that was true before the gift of Mr Trump’s election. How much juicier is it now?

Yet the history of that Liberal Tradition, and its defenders like Mr. Luce, surrendered without so much as a protest, as the Neo-Liberals in the New Democrats in America, and New Labour in Britain, emasculated, indeed supplanted that Tradition, with the self-justifying lawlessness of the Free Market. Mr. Luce’s polemic, against the opportunism of economic actors, willing to do business with anyone, that offers an opportunity for profit, is not just self-deluding but awash in the bad faith of a callabo!

Political Reporter



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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