The strategy of the West seems so stupid. The current line is that they will support ‘Ukraine’ for “as long as it takes”. This means billions and billions of dollars for weapons and billions and billions of dollars to support the economy. [1]

When there is a problem in UK society the instinctive reaction of the political class is to pay huge sums of money to the private sector to “deliver a solution”. A good example would be Track and Trace. This was a system designed to control Covid by tracking infections and asking people who had associated with infected people to quarantine. On paper this might work. Such an approach works, for example, in containing outbreaks of Ebola in some African countries. It works in these cases because relatively few people get infected. Sars-Cov-2 is extremely infectious. Asymptomatic infection is possible. People who tested positive for Covid may already have infected several people, each of whom could have in turn infected multiple people, before the source of this infection point was discovered. Of course the tracing part was inefficient; people might not remember who they had been in contact with; they would not have known the details of strangers they breathed all over on the bus. And then, even when a fraction of the potentially infected people were contacted – how many of them immediately fully quarantined – given that they would likely lose money by doing so? In fact Track and Trace was so inefficient that the Parliamentary Committee looking into it said that it had failed to do what it set out to do, and at an unimaginable cost. [2] It cost approximately GPB 40 billion. Governments think in terms of top-down solutions because they have no other solution, being at the top, and given that they (very much) want to appear to be doing something.

Ivan Illich has analysed all this. These are top-down, hierarchical, manipulative solutions which create dependency in the receivers of the deliverables. Death is the ultimate form of this game.

These top-down solutions sometimes generate a small benefit at huge cost – a few people were probably saved from Covid by the billions spent on PPE, for example. But billions of it was simply wasted. [3] That a few people were saved enables them to say that it worked and to keep the racket going for the next time.

When they see a problem their instinct is to throw a huge amount of money at the private sector to deliver a solution. These solutions are unwieldy, overkill (so to speak), hierarchical and manipulative. (Killing someone is the ultimate manipulation).

When it is Track and Trace or PPE for Covid, or the NHS IT system (a huge national system on which about 8 billion was wasted), the end result doesn’t really matter. Hundred of consultants will have got very rich; shareholders will have become millionaires, politicians will, in due course, get their rewards. And people like me can write blogs about how awful it all is. (A side note – slipping an official a hundred dollars as happens in some “corrupt” countries is positively clean compared to this level of entrenched and institutionalised corruption).

But in Ukraine this could end badly. Giving billions to private contractors and the army to deliver a solution to this problem (by killing lots of people) may not work out too well. There could be real costs here.

Today the British Foreign Secretary has been talking about fast-tracking Ukraine into NATO. Oh – that’s a good idea. By the way – in 2014 in only one of 4 regions of Ukraine was there a majority in favour of joining NATO and that only  53.2%. (According to Gallup – reported here on this site). And they still claim they can’t see why Russia did not feel provoked?