Looking down

I have seen no evidence that the Russians are ten feet tall; nor their some-time Chechen allies; nor even the Ukrainians, measured on the military height chart; although each may be around three metres in each other’s estimations. All, and especially those still within the perimeters of eastern Ukraine/Crimea/Donbas, are suffering as we did not think people would suffer in modern life: the aggressors as much as the defenders, in miserable pain.

Take Mr Putin, for instance, who seems abnormally short for a world leader. He is reported to be approximately 170 centimetres, which is five-foot-six, below even Mr Modi from India. One begins to see this as the first of his several psychological influences. Short people “got no reason to live,” according to an American pop song that was suppressed at the demand of a makeshift alliance between the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians (who police American pop culture). Mr Putin has demonstrated the soundness of this clich√©, by his ambitious intervention that, in addition to its murderous effects, has driven Ukraine into the hands of NATO, together with Finland and Sweden — two countries we thought would never join. Mr Zelensky, in his turn, has manoeuvred his enemy into a position of wilful obstinacy.

We are obliged to feed heavy, high-tech weapons into the conflict. Even Canada was able to find four tanks to send, over Mr Trudeau’s environmental guidelines. Mr Biden has summoned a sum for weapons larger than the defence budget of both sides, and the Germans more lethal equipment to give away than they had done since the collapse of the Tausendj√§hriges Reich.

For, as I was explaining to one of my correspondents, “World War I wasn’t very sensible either. Of course, once it starts you are stuck with your side.”

And of course, I myself prefer the Ukrainians, although I’m disinclined to wave the gold-and-blue. Indeed I know several ethnic Russians who are equally disinclined, but in their hearts they are rooting for their new national enemy. Taking sides is at least emotionally satisfying. But how to orchestrate a ceasefire? How to champion peace?

The solution used to be Donald Trump (190 centimetres), who during his presidency kept Putin and other aspiring tyrants from trying things on. He was among the greatest post-war messengers of peace, in our diplomatic annals. A pity that he was brought down by the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians.