Friday, 29 August 2008

My What A Big Missile

Goodness me, we seem to be still alive. Several days have gone by, and still those big bad Russians haven't reduced us to radioactive slag. Much as this may be a subject for rejoicing, however, it has (or hasn't, as the case may be) happened despite, rather than because of the antics of Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.

Oh. My. GOD. What the hell is that cocky little bantam doing now? Fresh from trying to upstage Gordon Brown-Trousers and looking like a treacherous little upstart for his troubles, he's had a quick jaunt to Ukraine this week. Where, right under the nose of a highly pissed off and downright twitchy Russian administration, he has preached the benefits of the democratic choices Ukraine has made, and went on to say that supporting those choices was the right thing for a British Foreign Secretary to do.

Democracy. Right. Yes. Good. Well done to those bods in Ukraine, maybe we could have some democracy over here, when the Government doesn't think it would lose power by it? But their Russian neighbour, particularly under the rule of Putin and Medvedev, isn't all that big on democracy, is it? In fact, it's very much like waving a red rag at a bull, except this bull is really a bear, and it's quite red enough already, thank you very much.

It's quite obvious that Miliband thinks he's someone of stature, an impressive figure on the international stage who is in a position to draw subtle lines in the sand and demand that Russia doesn't cross them. In reality, his posturing looks ridiculous. It's very, very difficult to take him seriously at the best of times, and now is most definitely not the best of times. He might look slightly better as he squares up to the old enemy if only he'd get rid of that pathetic bum-fluff moustache, but as it is he closely resembles an ant giving orders to a dinosaur - and by that, I don't, for once, mean Gordon Brown-Trousers.

On the same day, the Sun ran an article headlined, "If the West arms Georgia it's 'war'". The article gave a nice summary of the mounting hassle, stressing that Russia wasn't afraid of a new Cold War, that the situation closely resembled that on the eve of the First World War and that a US ship bringing "humanitarian aid" had docked in Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi. Of particular interest was the sidebar, by the Sun's political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, titled "Face Up To The Bear".

It gave a bullish list of reasons why we shouldn't be all that worried by Russian posturing, pointing out that "80 per cent of its military hardware is defunct or outdated. Its defence industry is in tatters and its 1.1million-strong armed forces are poorly trained." Which all sounded very encouraging, until I saw today's headline: "Russia tests out new lethal nuke."

Sporting a 550-kiloton warhead, Russia's new Topol missile was launched from Plesetsk and landed on target at the Kamchatka peninsula some 3,730 miles away. Their new toy has a maximum range of over 6,000 miles - which, as the Sun helpfully points out, is far enough to reach the UK - can devastate an area 14 miles wide and is kitted out to avoid "enemy" defence systems. Doesn't sound all that defunct or outdated to me!

It doesn't sound it to the boy Miliband, either, who's suddenly spouting piffle like "nobody wants all-out war with Russia." No, they don't. It's the last thing we want. But we don't want a Foreign Secretary who struts around Eastern Europe then shits his pants at the first sign of a missile that just might reach the UK, either.

Miliband's youthful looks go hand in hand with a total lack of experience, zero backbone and an ego like an airship. Letting him flap around loose in the middle of a crisis is pretty much guaranteed to make things worse, and right now I don't think that's such a good idea. If we can give his job to somebody who actually knows what they're doing, and has a working knowledge of both politics and diplomacy, it might - just - be possible to calm things down before Russian pride, American gung-hoism and New Labour political games combine to kick off WW3.

And besides, how much worse could they do? America will have taken note of the missile test, and, after some careful calculation using all his digits, President Bush will have worked out that the dratted thing can probably reach the US. Russia has made moves and statements that leave it very little room for manoeuvre on the diplomatic front, and one thing Russians really, really hate is losing face to the West. They have effectively chased the donkey up the minaret, and we need to find a way of letting them appear to get it safely down again before Bush makes an ass of himself by blasting both the donkey and the minaret to fine powder. All of which Miliband could have stopped if he hadn't been too busy playing power games designed to boost his standing in the Government, and the Government's position in the polls.

At this rate we'll be lucky to get through another week before someone gets trigger-happy. Again.

Billy Seggars.

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