By Alexander Boot
The short answer is next to nothing, and it’s about time we realised that. I’m using the personal pronoun ‘we’ in the broad sense of Western civilisation in general, not just any of its specific members.
Now brace yourself for a few blindingly obvious truisms, for no original thought is required to assess the current situation. Everything is plain for everyone to see, except for those who won’t see.
Our civilisation seems to have forgotten the old maxim: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ The saying is usually attributed to Edmund Burke, though he never said it. But the thought rings true.
Or rather it’s a truism. Any schoolboy who doesn’t play truant when history is taught should know that great civilisations don’t perish due to muscular atrophy, certainly not for that reason alone. The principal cause of their demise is invariably the erosion of will.
When that happens, muscular brawn becomes helpless. And make no mistake about it: the West still has the physical wherewithal to defend itself. The old “two-power standard” still holds good on the civilisational level. (The expression originally comes from the Naval Defence Act of 1889, which called for the Royal Navy to be at least as strong as the world’s next two largest navies combined.)
But no matter how strong cowardly, sybaritic civilisations appear on paper, they’ll eventually succumb to wild-eyed fanatics with hatred in their hearts and no fear of death.
Just look at the world today, as 2024 begins. Evil is on the march all over the globe, and nowhere is the West putting up resolute resistance.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered his country’s military to accelerate war preparations, including getting the nuclear weapons ready. What’s the hurry? I don’t know, but I’m desperate to believe that our intelligence services do. Yet our governments are doing their favourite thing: nothing, other than expressing their deep concern.
Israel, a Western oasis in the middle of a barbarian desert, is desperately fighting for its existence, with Iran inciting packs of her proxies to pounce. This is an indisputable binary case of good against evil – but not as far as the West is concerned.
Israel’s response to Hamas’s satanic raid is drawing more and more criticism from the Western media and increasingly imperative demands to desist from Western governments. Erdogan, the leader of a NATO country, has publicly stated that Netanyahu is no better than Hitler – and NATO does nothing to bring him to heel.
What it does do is tell Israel to defend herself only half-heartedly, ideally not at all. Whatever she does, she mustn’t kill her enemies on pain of Western displeasure, possibly sanctions.
At the same time, another Shiite puppet of Iran, Houthi (otherwise known as Ansar Allah) has used its pirates practically to shut navigation through the Suez Canal. This affects the West’s economic interests directly, and its strategic interests over the long run.
Operating through its proxies, Iran threatens a blockade of the Mediterranean. To that end the ayatollahs are also supplying long-range weapons to the Polisario Front, a nationalist socialist group in Morocco setting its sights on Gibraltar.
The US Navy has two carrier groups in the region, which is more than enough power to squash the Shiite threat to the Mediterranean basin once and for all. And yet that naval Leviathan does nothing other than fire a few reluctant salvos here and there.
Both Iran and North Korea are supplying armaments to Putin’s fascist regime, thus repaying Russia’s earlier help with arming the two evil powers to the teeth. Iran-made Shahed drones are murdering Ukrainian civilians, while Russian cannon are firing North Korean shells.
The three evil powers are doing all they can to entrench, and in due course to expand, a mighty fascist presence in the heart of Europe, right on NATO’s borders. Do you think the West is doing all it can to resist them? Don’t answer this; we’ve had enough truisms for one day.
Orban, the leader of another NATO country, is openly trying to block the EU’s assistance to the Ukraine, a country heroically fighting evil on her own. And even the leaders of the countries that do assist the Ukraine are making every effort not to do more than is necessary merely to keep her afloat.
Millions of people had to die to stop the previous full-scale attempt at a fascist domination of Europe. This time not a single Western soldier has to go into battle. All it takes is giving the Ukrainians the tools to do the job – but it’s not the job that the West clearly wants to see done.
The Western media are hysterically agitating for negotiated peace both in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Allow me to translate: given today’s situation, ‘negotiated peace’ means the surrender of both the Ukraine and Israel. That in turn means the surrender of the West and the triumph of evil.
I lay no claim to uncanny perspicacity here: this is yet another truism, and everyone knows it is just that. Yet the West feigns ignorance, pretending to believe that this is yet another “quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing”.
The West is increasingly reluctant to see Putin’s war as a clash between good and evil. One reads more and more articles arguing that, since both sides are equally bad, we shouldn’t favour one over the other. This isn’t a dearth of knowledge for our pundits know exactly what’s what. It’s a collapse of will.
The appeasing phrase quoted above had consequences that ought to have taught the West a lesson. It didn’t. All the West learned is how to paraphrase the same sentiment with nothing short of lexical adroitness.
But enough despair. The season calls for statements of hope, and mine is that the West will come to its senses. Dum spiro spero, as Cicero used to say. He must have been fond of truisms too.
Alexander Boot was born in Russia and educated at Moscow University. He lectured on English literature and was an art and film critic. He made a nuisance of himself with the authorities, was pursued by the KGB and emigrated in 1973, first to the USA and then, in 1988, to the UK. For a long time he combined writing for various publications with a successful business career. He now writes full-time. He divides his time between London and Burgundy, working on his next book. Alexander regularly visits his married relations in Jersey.
His blog can be read at www.alexanderboot.com