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25/01/2022 strategic-culture.org  5 min 🇬🇧 #201124

Boris Johnson Posing as Churchill on Ukraine Is Slapstick Example of War-as-Distraction

Finian Cunningham

Boris Johnson attempting to start a war with Russia partly over an illicit birthday party is a descent into deplorable and gutless slapstick.

The old dictum is truer than ever that stoking conflict in some distant land is an effective distraction from domestic political woes. But in the case of British prime-minister Boris Johnson, the ruse descends into farce.

Johnson is counting the days until his Conservative party finally gets rid of this train-wreck of a leader. Lies, incompetence and scandals ooze from Downing Street under his watch. Even Britain's Tory press has given up on its loyalty to Johnson who is now seen as an irredeemable election liability for Conservatives.

That's why Johnson's "warning" to Russia this week of "severe consequences" if it invades Ukraine sounds downright comical. His attempt at showing political spine abroad is belied by the image of his reputation at home resembling a wobbly jelly.

Johnson  claimed with a straight face that the British intelligence was "clear" that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine and install a puppet regime in Kiev. He went on to say that Britain was "leading" the way among NATO allies for inflicting dire economic costs on Russia. This is in spite of the ropey British story being  rubbished as not having a shred of credibility.

By way of lending credibility to the latest claims, Britain's Foreign Office has begun  evacuating diplomatic staff from its embassy in Kiev. This can be seen as the British deliberately trying to escalate the tensions between NATO and Russia over Ukraine by fomenting an atmosphere of imminent conflict. Evacuating embassy staff tends to lend credibility to otherwise baseless allegations that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.

The Americans and Australians then followed the British lead. It seems significant that Britain's foreign and defense ministers were  visiting Australia at the time of the embassy order.

For Boris Johnson to affect a portentous air of Churchillian statesman is more parody than politics. We are expected to believe that Johnson is leading the "free world" in standing up to alleged Russian aggression towards Europe.

This is while the crumpled-suited Boris is facing the sack for overseeing a never-ending nightmare of  scandals on Downing Street.

Johnson's predilections for boozy parties in No 10 during the Covid pandemic lockdowns have caught up with him like a big cream pie in the face.

This week it  emerged that he had a birthday party in the prime minister's residence last year when many Britons were grieving the death of loved ones to whom they couldn't even say their final goodbyes because of lockdown restrictions. The public outrage over Johnson's feckless behavior has reached a boiling point. Once upon a time, Bumbling Boris was seen as an amiable character and a vote-winner. Now his public image of a lying buffoon is viewed more clearly with disgust and contempt.

On top of that, Britons are faced with spiraling living costs and fuel bills just when the Conservative government is planning to introduce tax hikes that will hit working people the hardest.

Johnson's political future is  hanging in the balance. The usually Conservative-supporting British media outlets have turned decisively against him. The Daily Telegraph (also dubbed the "Torygraph") predicts that Johnson will be unseated as party leader and thus prime minister "within days".

It's against this backdrop of dirty and desperate domestic politics that Johnson and his loyalists are grasping at the "Ukraine crisis".

Downing Street has given the go-ahead for RAF cargo planes to  deliver tonnes of lethal military aid to Ukraine.

The British have put "assault brigades" on standby to fly to Ukraine in order to help  evacuate remaining diplomats in the event of a Russian invasion.

There is, however, a weird reality disconnect in the British media. They are generally reporting on the Ukraine situation with suitable credulity. Russia is portrayed as a malign actor and Britain as a noble defender of Ukraine's sovereignty. The accusations against Moscow are reported on at face value without any skepticism.

There is hardly any questioning despite repeated, vehement denials by Russia of harboring any threat towards Ukraine. Moscow's plausible claims of NATO-backed militarization in Ukraine and the threat to peace are barely reported on, never mind given proper analysis in the British media. Boris Johnson's posturing as Churchill is strangely given credence by the media when it comes to him pontificating about Ukraine.

Yet the anomaly in this image-projection is that the same media have lost their tolerance for Johnson's domestic antics. They have called him out as a charlatan and an incompetent clown who has zero moral authority.

How amusing then that this same clown on Downing Street is somehow taken seriously by the British media when it comes to him posing as an international statesman "standing up to Russian aggression".

Down through history, there are many examples of where domestic political problems provide the impetus for military adventures overseas as a way to avoid accountability at home. This cynical maneuver is by no means unique to Britain. But in the present case, Boris Johnson attempting to start a war with Russia partly over an illicit birthday party is a descent into deplorable and gutless slapstick.

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