High life

The age-old story of strongmen

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

16 April 2022

9:00 AM

The only good news, after the massacres in Ukraine, is that so many ugly behemoth super-yachts have been seized and will not be polluting the seas this summer. There is no more horrible sight than an oligarch’s super-yacht on the horizon, and that is before it disgorges its passengers, which is a horror show in itself. Arab boats, with their hookers on board, are even worse.

The other good news is that Elon Musk has become the largest shareholder in Twitter, and in a Trojan War replication has challenged Putin to a duel. Oh, what a wonderful world this would be if those who started wars would duke it out with their opponents, rather than sending youngsters to do the fighting for them. But don’t hold your breath. The last time it was done, Achilles challenged and killed Hector, then dragged him from his chariot three times around the walls of Troy.

Agamemnon has been on my mind lately, having read what a man called Paul Krugman wrote in the Bagel Times. Paul, not Agamemnon, wrote that Putin has surrounded himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. Really? This is an exclusive worthy of Walter Duranty’s in the New York Times that informed us that there was no man-made famine in Ukraine back in the 1930s. (Only a few million died.) Strongmen have been surrounding themselves with yes men since, well, Agamemnon’s time, and that is why the Greek leader has been on my mind. He brought Cassandra back with him after the sack of Troy and didn’t even bother to ask her a question or two. For any of you who have not been reading Professor Peter Jones, Cassandra was King Priam’s prettiest daughter – in fact, some said she was more beautiful than the abducted and seduced (but not abandoned) Greek who caused the ten-year war to begin with, and she possessed prophetic gifts.


Agamemnon should have debriefed his captor before returning, but if the Trojans hadn’t listened to Cassandra’s warning about the wooden horse, why would the victor of the war have done so? Boy, could the young and beautiful Trojan have told the Greek leader a thing or two about his future. Let’s face it. Unlike our Boris, who yet again lucked out when Putingate turned partygate into nothingate, Agamemnon’s homecoming party was a total bust: his wife Clytemnestra’s lover Aegisthus murdered him, Aegisthus was in turn killed by Agamemnon’s son Orestes, and although my direct ancestor Homer does not say if Orestes then murdered his mother, he implies it. See what I mean when I say Agamemnon should have posed a few questions to Cassandra?

But I’m getting carried away here. All this started with that fool Paul Krugman announcing the obvious. All strongmen listen to yes men and jail those who disagree with them. But why am I surprised? Paul the fool predicted that the stock market would hit zero because of Trump’s election, and the thing went through the roof. He has yet to comment on the duel between Vlad and Elon, thank God. Who will emerge victorious if it takes place? It’s gonna be Vlad because of judo and wrestling with tigers and all that. Elon just wrestles with girls like Amber Heard. (Elon, you should call me. I know some dirty tricks that you don’t, but I won’t be hanging around my phone waiting as you’ve already gone Hollywood on me.)

If Putin had had a Cassandra around before he invaded, would he have listened to her? Strongmen don’t usually change their minds because they believe in their own propaganda. In Putin’s case, it was a belief in his army’s prowess and the eagerness of Ukrainians to submit to Russian rule. In the good old US of A, foreign policy aides to Joe Biden spent the Trump years in consulting firms funded by Department of Defense contracts. This is in itself unethical because it puts them in the pocket of the military–industrial complex, a monster that can be fed only by war. These are the people who laud America’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and are now itching to get into a fight with Vlad. They are also advising Zelensky on how to browbeat the West into getting involved.

Being an ancient Greek, I have always consulted with Cassandra, and that is why I’ve survived all these years. If anyone had bothered to ask me about Ukraine before the fighting started, I’d have advised Zelensky to cool it as far as Nato is concerned. Nato is a red flag to the Russkies, and rightly so. Then I would have told Putin to take up Elon Musk’s challenge and name the date and neutral place, but stay away from Ukraine, or at least just grab Donbas and call it a day.

But does anyone ask Taki for advice nowadays? I’d be lucky if the Russians asked me because they believe in history. And the Americans won’t do it because they are trying to erase their story, one that saw Ben Franklin perform a miracle in Paris and get the Frogs involved in America’s war of independence from you know who. Without French support with money and ships, great Americans such as Washington, Jefferson and of course Franklin, men born British, would not have died as Americans. You figure it out.

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