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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Joe Biden is just the start of a crisis in Western leadership that emboldens our enemies

Putin likes to keep up the suspense on whether he will or won’t act and he is a wily enough actor (as we saw in Crimea in 2014) to eat when he thinks no one is watching. For all the empty talk of Trump being beholden to Russia, it is noticeable that Russia did not gobble away during Trump’s time in office. Putin waits for weak Democrat administrations to be in office to make his moves. And none could be weaker than the one currently sitting in DC.

So who are the other contenders to lead the West? There was a time when even those of us who were critical of Chancellor Merkel knew that she could see through crises as well as she could, on occasion, also create them. But today she is a lame duck, waiting out her last days in office, with a weak coalition being put together to succeed her. Besides which, on the issues in her immediate vicinity, Merkel has been disastrous.

Her predecessor Gerhard Schröder went straight from office to work for Putin’s energy giant. Merkel didn’t bother to wait to leave office before agreeing to the construction of Putin’s much dreamed of Nord Stream II. This move will not only massively enrich the Kremlin and its corrupt, oligarchical kleptocracy of a state. It will also – in an era where countries like Germany have made unachievable carbon-cutting promises like everyone else – put European energy supplies at the mercy of the Kremlin.

We do, of course, have our own Prime Minister here at home. But much as some of us admire his political and personal skills, in office Boris Johnson is proving to be a grave disappointment. He has made a Horlicks of this Parliament. Like his US counterpart, he disappears from view when the going, or questions, get even remotely tough. And he has decided to spend the biggest Tory majority since the 1980s on what exactly?

Currently, the Conservative Government of Johnson has spent its largest political capital trying to pretend that if you gather a group of world leaders, actors, and school truants together at a conference in Glasgow, then you can solve the world’s climate issues. Ten years ago the journalist Johnson was pouring scorn on the whole premise of the eco-apocalypse doom-mongers. Today he has not just joined their ranks, he has aspired to lead them. Which is why we have had this vainglorious two-week summit in which the world’s biggest polluter (China) didn’t even bother to show up. Though at least we got Leonardo DiCaprio.

Boris’s Cop26 was a washout. An expansive exercise in squandering cash in return for nothing but hot air and empty promises. Prime Minister Modi of India promised to cut carbon emissions by 2070 and I’m sure we will all be able to hold him to that. But Cop26 was simply a big, wasteful PR stunt. One at which Johnson himself didn’t even especially shine.

So who is going to stand up for the free world? Macron is busy simply trying to get re-elected. Boris is interested in gestures more than results. Merkel is on the way out and Biden is, to all intents and purposes, missing in action. This is not a great time for the West. But if you are Beijing or Moscow, gosh, is 2021 turning out to be a year of gifts.

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