PETER HITCHENS: Even my fiercest critics now agree: it’s time to make peace in Ukraine
So what happened to the big Ukrainian offensive that we thought would drive out Vladimir Putin’s invading armies? I suppose a surprise is still possible, but it appears to have stalled, much like similar great impulses in World War I.
In fact, the whole thing is looking more and more like the First World War, with its years of muddy, bloody stalemate, trenches, artillery bombardments – and the massacre, disfigurement and mutilation of thousands of young men.
And in the US, those who were once enthusiastic about this war are growing increasingly chilly. The American NBC News recently reported that there are already ‘discussions’ aimed at starting peace talks.
In the spring I debated this issue before an audience in London, saying that the war was dangerous and wasteful and should be ended through negotiations.
One of my bitterest opponents in that debate was the comedian Konstantin Kisin, who has become a major Internet commentator. Mr. Kisin treated me like something he had recently scraped out of his shoe. But last week he began calling for an end to the war.
Police officers stand guard at a damaged residential building on Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, where a military grenade is said to have struck on February 25, 2022.
Civilian participants of a Kiev Territorial Defense Unit train in a forest on a Saturday on January 22, 2022 in Kiev, Ukraine
Absolutely right too. Let’s rejoice for the sheep that was lost, etc. I really hope he won’t be called all those stupid names now (‘Kremlin Shill’, ‘Putin Apologist’ etc.). I was called because I had previously come to the same conclusion.
I welcome him to the growing camp of reason. But I would say that if he and others had taken a wiser stand eight months ago, or earlier, many young men who are now dead or terribly wounded would have remained unharmed and alive.
Thousands of shells and bombs would not have fallen on cities and turned them into ruins. Many refugees could return to their home countries.
By some estimates, it will cost well over £300 billion to repair the physical damage caused by the conflict, and who should foot this bill? Sadly, no amount of money can bring back the dead, nor can those maimed by the terrible weapons of modern war be healed.
But a quick peace could at least be the beginning of the long task of reconstruction.
A Ukrainian soldier from an artillery unit fires at Russian positions outside Bakhmut on November 8, 2022
The conflict in Ukraine was always unnecessary. It has only harmed Ukraine and Ukrainians. Ukraine has been used as a battering ram in someone else’s argument. The whole thing was prepared in the same kitchen in Washington DC where the craziest invasion of Iraq was prepared. And I’ve been trying to tell you that the policy of driving Russia crazy with NATO expansion would make us less safe, not more.
I really hope this will be the end. But I very much fear that will not be the case.
I must respectfully ask Suella Braverman, the current Minister of the Interior, how she has so far failed to realize that the police in this country are a militant left-wing organization. I mean, apart from everything else, she’s Home Secretary and so has to pay some attention to this increasingly strange organization, with its rainbow flags, its Twitter patrols and its knee problems.
In fact, the transformation of the police into a Blairite army has been a long, slow process. It started before the 1999 Macpherson Report. But that document greatly accelerated the change.
This was probably about the bigoted murder of Stephen Lawrence. In fact, it spelled the end of the already decaying idea of the police as the public’s defenders against crime and disorder, something they are now unlikely to engage in anymore. From that moment on, the path to promotion in the police led through ‘equality and diversity’, ‘human rights’ and the things that go with it.
I must respectfully ask Suella Braverman, the current Minister of the Interior, how she has so far failed to realize that the police in this country are a militant left-wing organization. I mean, apart from everything else, she’s Home Secretary so she has to pay some attention to this increasingly strange organization, with its rainbow flags, its Twitter patrols and its knee problems (File Photo)
This went very deep. The Blairite Police Reform Act of 2002 (section 83) quietly changed the officer’s oath from a simple promise to uphold the law without malice or favor to a politicized promise to uphold ‘fundamental human rights and with equal respect for all people’.
The words ‘without favor or affection, malice or ill will’ disappeared and were replaced by the milder and more inclusive ‘with honesty, integrity, diligence and impartiality’. But impartiality between what and what? Impartiality between supporters of Hamas and supporters of Israel? Impartiality between Field Marshal Lord Bramall and his patently absurd accuser? It seems like it sometimes. It also replaced a section promising to ‘prevent all crimes against the persons and property of Her Majesty’s subjects’ with new politically correct wording. The reference to the monarch and her subjects was simply deleted.
The police’s lack of interest in the public and their normal concerns have been confirmed in recent years as they have almost completely disappeared from view. They don’t need us, and as I have often emphasized, they expect the same in return.
Ms Braverman seems to be trying very hard at the moment to pose as a ‘right-wing’ Conservative, picking various kinds of self-promotional fights and turning up at a number of tense events in London that the modern Blairite Tories would not normally attend . And she is trying to please some by giving the impression that she would have been tougher if she could have been, during the ill-mannered and bigotry-ridden march that took place in London yesterday.
Ms Braverman seems to be trying very hard at the moment to pose as a ‘right-wing’ Conservative, picking various kinds of self-promotional fights and turning up at a number of tense events in London that the modern Blairite Tories would not normally attend ( File Photo )
But – what a shock! – the police wouldn’t let her in. Maybe this is all real passion. It doesn’t bother me much. As a strongly pro-Israel, social and moral conservative, I do not agree with the ban on marches or the restriction of speech, short of incitement. I think this is a dangerous attitude.
But I have to ask what she has been doing, reading and thinking for the past quarter century. After all, she was born in 1980 and was quite old enough to observe the Blairite social revolution as it unfolded after 1997. Yet nominal Tories like them have been in power for thirteen years since those developments. And they haven’t reversed a single one, despite much right-wing rhetoric. Forgive me if I remain unimpressed.
The rush hour commute took me back to Beijing
In another era, perhaps thirty years ago, I made my first visit to Beijing (only the most pretentious mushrooms of the regime called it ‘Beijing’ then).
I had great fun renting a Maoist Flying Pigeon push bike (one gear, whatever color you want, as long as it’s black) and launching myself into the crowd that then cycled through the huge city by the millions. They’re gone now. Cars have taken over.
The experience was a bit like diving into a fast-flowing river. I thought I’d never be able to do something like that again, but last week I drove into London from the south-east during rush hour. The number of cyclists was astonishing, close to old Beijing levels, as they filled the new cycle lanes and (yes, I know we’re not all well behaved) obeyed traffic lights and signs like adults.
When I first started cycling in London 45 years ago, I was almost alone and colleagues mocked me as if I was angry. What I saw last week made me think that one day we might do as the Dutch have done, and re-adopt this healthy, civilized, clean form of transportation – to our great national benefit.