On the wrong side

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, only in this case it is not funny.

What do Winston Peters, Sir Russell Coutts and a bunch of protesters have in common with Vladimir Putin? Answer: They are all wrong.

Obviously, that’s where any similarities end. Mr Peters, Sir Russell and the more well-intentioned demonstrators at Parliament are good people who, by now, will hopefully have at least some sense that their actions were wrong or unhelpful, and even inadvertently may have helped fuel tensions that then stoked the subsequent flames of violence.

However, when it comes to Mr Putin especially, and probably also the law-breaking, mindless thugs who revelled in the dystopian and riotous end to the protest at Parliament, there is likely to be no such self-awareness of doing wrong or courage enough to admit they did wrong.

It is difficult for the vast majority of New Zealanders, say 95% or more of us, to be able to stand back and understand where such delinquents are coming from, what motivates them to have such utter disregard for other’s rights and to want to actually fight and injure people.

Similarly, most of the right-minded, fair and just people around the globe will be struggling to understand the Russian leader’s bloodlust and megalomania, and what he possibly hopes to achieve for his nation of 144 million people from being shunned and isolated by much of the rest of the world.

It would be illuminating to be a fly on the wall of the Kremlin and watch as Mr Putin no doubt rants and raves — in a manner akin to another mass-murdering monster some 80 years ago — about the Ukrainian resistance and the incompetencies of the Russian army.

The piling of sanction after sanction upon Russia, its oligarchs and the state-controlled banks will also not be doing much for Mr Putin’s temper.

Yet he carries on with his evil, twisted plans, killing civilians, including children, in an attempt to turn back the clock to the "glories" of the Soviet empire and its sphere of influence of days gone by.

We wonder, as Mr Putin carries on committing his war crimes, if any of his generals have been brave enough to share the famous quote about the pointlessness of war from Blackadder Goes Forth: "Clearly Field Marshal Haig is about to make yet another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin."

Meanwhile, back in our part of the world and on a far less earth-shattering note, it would be good to know what our former deputy prime minister was really thinking when he visited the occupation last week.

There he was, smiling and chatting with the assembled mob, and most alarmingly not wearing a mask at an event which has since lived up to the initial fears of it becoming a super-spreader event for Omicron.

Mr Peters may have gone to Wellington with the best of intentions, to try to talk to those with genuine grievances and show some empathy in the vacuum left by the non-appearance of serving MPs. But unfortunately his appearance just gave legitimacy to the entire event, a legitimacy which some there certainly did not deserve.

It would also be interesting to know, in light of Wednesday’s rioting, whether Mr Peters now regrets attending. Similarly for yachtie Sir Russell and for many others there, who may have had valid concerns about vaccines and mandates but would never have countenanced being part of a violent mob.

Warnings that it would turn ugly and most likely end in a mess of brawling and police action were right.

Those who thought their passionately held beliefs would protect them from the actions of the thugs and gangsters in their midst were wrong.