I don't like Vladimir Putin. All his macho posturing. His authoritarian style. His apparent disregard for civilian casualties in Syria. His ugly and clumsy approach to politics and international diplomacy. It all leaves me cold.
Vladimir may very well be kind to little old ladies and pleasant to kittens in his private life but politically he can go to Room 101 as far as I'm concerned. He's emphatically not one of the good guys.
So, why then am I about to launch what some may (mistakenly) construe as a defence of Putin's Russia in the face of mounting criticism from the west?
It has everything to do with stinking hypocrisy. The sort of 'do as I say, don't do as I do' attitude from Britain and America that exasperates onlookers from all over the planet.
Russia propping up the repugnant President Assad is a sickening sight to behold but the UK and the US have a very recent track record of turning a blind eye to a whole host of horrific behaviour from 'friendly' regimes. Rarely has this been better illustrated than in the past week or so following the latest Saudi Arabian civilian slaughter in Yemen. Sure, there were a few stern public words of admonishment from London and Washington but Saudi is a cash cow that neither Britain or America wishes to see stray too far from pastures under their control. When one of your biggest arms trading partners wipes out dozens of civilians in a far off place that's way off the radars of most of us, well, I guess they call that sort of thing 'collateral damage.'
Likewise, I may have missed it but I can't recall Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (I know. I know. It's almost too ridiculous to even type Foreign Secretary and Boris Johnson in the same sentence) calling for protests outside the Israeli embassy in the summer of 2014 when great friend of Britain and America - Israel - used its military hardware to blow large parts of Gaza to bits. According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee 1462 civilians were killed in Gaza during the 7 week onslaught including many children. A further 3000 children in Gaza were wounded and over a 1000 left permanently disabled. As a tragic postscript more than 300,000 children in Gaza have required psychosocial support in the wake of the bombardment.
The reaction from the UK and US governments? Barely a murmur of disapproval.
Now, I'm not someone who wishes to see the demise of Israel. I recognise it's right to exist and prosper but that prosperity cannot be built on the abject misery of others. It's something that Britain and America needs to be far more vocal about and, more importantly, take action over if anyone is to take this self styled worlds policemen shtick even remotely seriously.
Unfortunately, very senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic seem happy to keep lobbing stones at Putin's Russia when they should probably take a long hard look around the glasshouses from which they aim their projectiles. Whether it's the horrendous bloody aftermath of western military involvement in Iraq and Libya or nominating representatives from barbaric, head chopping misogynistic regimes for places of the UN's Human Rights Council, moral high ground is in short supply in The White House and Downing Street.
Mr Putin shouldn't be top of the Christmas card list of any right minded person but the double standards are staggering but more than that they're dangerous. Dangerous for all of us.
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