This is Really Worth a Read, and then, some Deep Thinking?

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Opinion: Is the Ukraine invasion finally whipping back the curtain to reveal the backstage grime of society? – 1h ago

17th July 2022

THE INVASION OF Ukraine. The downfall of Boris Johnson.

© Shutterstock Rena SchildOpinion: Is the Ukraine invasion finally whipping back the curtain to reveal the backstage grime of society?

It’s a been a year where the news cycle has forced us to reflect yet again on what’s going on behind the political and societal scenes across Europe and beyond. 

How much do we know, and what should we know more about?

We rarely question the source or cleanliness of every dollar, pound, euro or rouble that is sent to our countries.

Everything is declared foreign investment. And as we know, foreign investment is always a good thing.

Except when global events mean we can no longer ignore when it is connected to individuals of questionable moral fibre, dictatorships or criminal organisations. Possibly even the murder of opponents in restaurants or embassies. Actually, wait, murder in restaurants and embassies we seem to be fine with.

Invading other countries, now that’s trickier to ignore.

Funny though, when western democracies do it (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya), it’s beautifully presented to us like a special effect in a Hollywood blockbuster and marketed on an endless news cycle as the right and just thing to do.

Now, with the war in Ukraine we are faced with fuel shortages, food price hikes, white Christian refugees and echoes of war destruction in Europe. The three other aforementioned countries were conveniently further afield, but refugees from those places still arrive here and populist politicians still cast them as ‘freeloaders’ and ‘terrorists’.

Perhaps the war in Ukraine is finally whipping back the curtain of such geopolitical machinations to reveal the backstage grime of our societies? Like Naomi Klein’s proverbial exposé The Shock Doctrine turned back on those of us whose governments usually inflict it on others.

As I wrote in my latest novel: energy and money drive the global narrative. As a result, the values our leaders profess to have are often compromised. Is anyone in any government willing to risk it all and step up to the plate to admit, denounce and change? Hit the reset button while we still can?

As we’re seeing with the fight for election of a new Tory leader, the more things change the more they stay the same – or in the case of some who were vying for Boris Johnson’s soon-to-be-vacated role, the worse they might get.

If, (as we’ve seen with Volodymyr Zelenskyy) a former actor who played a president can, so far outstandingly, pull off being an actual president as his country is invaded – perhaps our politicians could dust off their moral compasses and do the right thing by their electorates?

On top of all this, we all know our societies depend on energy and money. We tend not to consider where it comes from or its real costs because great effort is put into to shielding us from those realities. Perhaps that is why there is so much hand-wringing over the appalling events in Ukraine? It’s all a bit close to home.

As a UK comedian who poses as a disgruntled TV reporter put it in a recent video post: many western democracies have been bought by guys like Putin. We took their money to swell our hedge funds and prop up our stock markets.

We flogged them luxury homes and estates, inadvertently driving up all property prices and depriving many ordinary people of getting a foot on the property ladder. We sold them football clubs, fleets of racehorses, newspapers and anything else we thought we could get a good price for.

War on our doorstep and a scramble for energy. Cost of living through the roof. But somebody’s always profiting.

In the age of rage, confusion and self-curated social media bubbles, do we really want to know about the backstage grime of our modern lifestyles?

Parallels

I grew up in the horseracing world, so I can’t help but compare the greater global issues to what occurs there. And even in that frivolous microcosm, nobody really wants to know about to what might be under the carpet. 

When it comes to financial investment in horse racing pretty much any money is accepted. Questions rarely asked.

Take Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, for example. Since the abuse allegations made against him by his daughter Latifa and his former wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, the racing world has turned a blind eye to his behaviour.

A UK judge has since ruled in favour of Princess Haya and denied the Sheikh any access at all to the two children she had with him. But the horse racing industry still reveres Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation. He’s too powerful to ostracise.

However, while we are currently worried about the cost of energy and its supply, with regard to future geopolitical machinations, I am reminded of the words of a Turkish businessman I met whilst working near Istanbul 20 years ago.

During a chat about middle-eastern politics, he remarked, only half in jest: “Iraq has its oil, but we control the source of its water, let them drink their oil.” You see, the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers both originate in Turkey and flow to the Shatt Al-Arab Basin in Southern Iraq. It is estimated that Turkey contributes 90% to the Euphrates water flow and 40% to the Tigris.

Shocking stuff indeed. 

Sam O’Brien has worked in the bloodstock world and is a crime/thriller writer with Poolbeg. His latest novel is Prophet Margin.

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