News Russia will now get a refund on the failed order for two Mistral Class warships reveals a huge missed opportunity. Indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin may have passed up a détente opportunity of biblical proportions. The following is a report spurred on by my Dutch colleague, the alternative case for “Putin’s Ark.” Transforming two mediocre warships into instruments of mercy, now that would soon become the standard for a new policy strategy known as “humanitarian Machiavellianism”, and on a grand scale too.
When researcher Holger Eekhof called me at 8 a.m. yesterday morning adamant about how Mr. Putin had missed a grand strategic opportunity, I was skeptical. Five hours of argumentation later, and a bout of bitter sarcasm onward, and I began to see a strange value in Eekhof’s view. Indeed, if Mr. Putin had instructed his counterpart in France to de-weaponize the two lumbering French warships, then a screw up Russian Navy purchase could have ended in a world changing “Putin’s Ark” sensation. I’ll explain in a minute, but first let me question the wisdom of French naval design intended to defend Mother Russia in the first place. What were naval planners thinking?
Western media classifies the Mistral Class warships intended for Russia duty as “deadly “ surface combatants capable of projecting Russian military power abroad. The truth of the matter is acutely different, let me assure you. A shipbuilding collaboration in between the European arm of South Korea’s STX Corporation, and France’s DCNS Group, the Mistral is an already obsolete vessel. Looking at first at STX, the company is noted for building Royal Caribbean Cruises floating tourist hotels, and other passenger pontoon boats. As for DCNS Group, this longtime French dockyard had its heyday begin and end with the launch of the Vengeur du Peuple (“Avenger of the People”) , a ship of the line that took part in the victory at the Battle of Chesepeake Bay in 1778.
Let’s be pointedly blunt here, the French have never been heralded as creators of fearsome ships of war. Most vessels in their various armadas bear the distinction of having been either sunk, or captured by adversaries. Russia may as well have commissioned the building of wooden canoes chipped out of a log by the last of the Algonquins.
Now that you have the low-down on building modern day floating “death stars” – maybe you’re wondering too, who ordered Mistral cruise ships capable of becoming 19 knot Russian helicopter moving vans in the first place? But let’s focus on “Putin’s Ark” instead, since Russia defeating the forces of evil across Northern Europe and the Americas seems more interesting (and funny).
Looking at the lines of these Mistral ships it’s not hard to visualize what the Russians may have envisioned in this deal. If Noah’s Ark looked like a lumbering cork bobbing and weaving in the swollen seas of damnation, the Mistral is a dead ringer powered by two puny Rolls Royce engines. Let’s forget for a moment that the Russian Navy’s missile frigates and cruisers would have to slow down to “kill us were are puttering along here” speed just so the underpowered Mistrals could keep up. Let’s face it, an ISIL bad guy could do 18 knots on a bicycle with an RPG over his shoulder. Even the English Channel ferry built by STX, the MS Stena Baltica does 23 knots fully loaded with cars.
There is an alternative duty the vessels would be ideal for though. Ferrying North African castaways out of harm’s way, and away from the waiting detention camps of Southern Europe too! This was, in fact, Mr. Eekhof’s Einstein moment yesterday. Vladimir Putin damning all the torpedoes, and steaming full speed ahead to crush the Western alliance on the bridge of a Mistral refugee cruise liner, at the head of an Arab Spring countering mission.
If the reader can imagine, even for a moment, tens of thousands set adrift by western leaders’ machinations in North Africa cruising in luxury across the Mediterranean! Well, the extended vision is apt and absolutely hilarious too. The map below was stolen from a collective vision of two policy scientist in my family’s beer garden yesterday. I know the reader is already beginning to visualize the destination of Mr. Putin’s salvation flotilla, but for those of you who need graphics, here’s the charted course.
Transforming the old WW II air base into a temporary refuge for several tens of thousands of boat people trying to escape North Africa would not be a costly affair either. Only a modernization of the infrastructure there, and a tent city need be installed. As for the Africans’ transit afterward, Russia is not considered a “safe” international state by EU standards anyway. The recent sanction regime and US State Department allegations against Moscow preclude any possibility of Libyans, Tunisians, or even Syrians being offered asylum in Russia. The international community would simply not stand for it.
However constrained Putin and Russia may be though, providing a jump off point to African dreams of European citizenship would certainly serve duality of purpose. The refugees would only have a worn out fence and a shallow lagoon in between them and cosmopolitan life in Poland. And imagine the ripple effect of an influx of cheap labor on neighbors, Germany, then Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and then on the fertile farm lands of France.
Right across the Russo-Polish border fence (image above), a the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, and Poland’s principal seaport await new pioneers intent on a new and better life. As for resistance to accepting the “would be” Putin Ark passengers, Gdansk is perhaps the best destination of all for those feeling suppressed and oppressed. There’s not way city officials there could condone aggression or even deportation of Libyans, when a repeat of the December 1970 anti-regime demonstration violence that led to the downfall of Poland’s communist leader Władysław Gomułka must certainly be avoided. Police and military back then opened fire on demonstrators, so Poland would be ill advised to chastize political refugees.
From the border fence line shown, Putin’s Ark people could easily walk to Gdansk in 14 hours. Along the way there are plenty of pastures and fields to rest at, or to get sustenance from. If the Russians supply the refugees with some Putin T-shirts and Russian flag fanny packs storing €10, a couple of sandwiches and a Putin water bottle, then every new EU citizen would have had a decent start on a new life. In fact, some capable refugees might even obtain employment at the Piaski Club resort just a few hundred meters from the old Nazi base inside Russian territory. No doubt Summer at such vacation destinations demands more kitchen and wait staff. Why some unemployed Libyan’s would absolutely feel thrilled at any wage offered at all.
And the Radio Free Europe reads “Europe Braces For Tide Of North African Refugees”
By now I hope you have embraced my Dutch friend’s sense of humor, and all our collegiate cynicism too. Washington, with the UK and the EU as partners, caused much of the chaos that is going on in the Mediterranean basin today. This is not even a point to argue any longer. Sanctions on Russia, the daily onslaught of negativity and supposition leveled onto Vladimir Putin and Russia, it’s become hysterical. Russia’s leader is accused without an inkling of proof, of anything and everything to vilify and defame both he, and the people he represents. The plight of millions of tortured and hopelessly marooned people is not a laughing matter, but this does of satire you are reading shines a white hot light on the bigotry and exclusivity many nations possess.
For all the media consumer in the west knows, Putin’s even guilty of the JFK assassination. Since this is the case, how much worse could his reputation in Paris or in Los Angeles be, if he delivered Poland’s worst nightmare directly to their doorstep? Could NATO attack without warning? Would the American people call for a nuclear first strike over a rescue at sea? A deliverance? Could the world blame TIME’s Most Influential man for saving lives and dreams, while at the same time obliterating his people’s most vociferous detractors? Nay, it would never happen. If anything most people would die laughing at Putin’s bravado.
Surely this is a funny fantasy that can never happen. However ridiculous the idea may be though, what the world really does need is an alternative reality where international relations are concerned. Hundreds of millions are by now caught up in the crucible that is this new Cold War. The western media is unrelenting, and so are the psychopaths in Washington. Human lives are in the balance, and not just Islamic poor people left begging at the doorstep of Europe. A long since dead European colonial attitude now rears its ugly head again. The gamble for power and resources, the urgency of feeding the socialists states at Europe’s center, it is heating up. Germany and France, poked and prodded by a sinking American hegemony, do no service to their people or the world. My Mom, God rest her now, she always used to say; “They’ll get what they deserve.” And Mom was always right.
How appropriate it would be if Vladimir Putin served Poland and Lithuania up what they deserve, and in the holds of a sacred Ark of a new kind. The Mistral Wind is a blowing, let’s just pray the wind of providence blows just desserts to those who have upset the lives of so many.