ADELAIDE - The unfolding disaster in Ukraine has been met by a blizzard of meaningless drivel from Western elites.
They are shocked, confused and afraid: all of their fine words unable to disguise the pathos of their collective response to Vladimir Putin's naked aggression.
Now there are reports of a Russian foreign affairs spokesperson threatening Sweden and Finland with grave military and political consequences if they dare to apply to join NATO.
Thus Putin seizes the moment to threaten countries that are long term neutral states and by no plausible stretch of the imagination capable of threatening the security of Russia.
European leaders in particular have proved to be hopelessly incapable of putting together any response other than a limp-wristed slap with an economic lettuce leaf.
They wrongly describe this in their rhetoric as 'tough sanctions'. I think ‘bullshit’ is a more accurate descriptor.
It is clear that US president Biden proposed more serious actions, notably Russia's exclusion from SWIFT, the system used by banks across the world to facilitate fund exchanges.
Exclusion would effectively cripple the Russian financial system by cutting it off from any contact with the wider world.
The Europeans, especially Germany and Italy, shrank from doing this because they know it will damage them too, although to nothing like the extent it will Russia.
More happily this morning I hear on the news that they may have changed their mind.
The truth is that for 30 years or more Europe has lived in a state of delusion and denial.
Its existential dread of rampant and malignant ultra-nationalism has closed European eyes and ears to the awful truth that the monstrous force that gave birth to Nazism is still alive and well.
Not dead, but dormant.
And late last week it roared again and Europe (and we others of the West) are pathetically ill prepared to deal with it.
Europe’s much-vaunted military might is a facsimile of the force required to stop Putin. It is fragmented, run down and poorly coordinated.
Only France and Britain have credibly 'war-ready' military establishments: the rest are toy soldiers in the main.
Not that NATO’s ‘rules’ allow its members to enjoin anyway, unless one of them is attacked. Ukraine is not one of them.
Nor is Australia exempt from this lack of readiness. We lack sufficient long, medium and short range missiles to pose a credible threat to any aggressor.
The military knows this and has been desperately trying to play catch-up for a while now.
But politicians prefer to announce big things, like acquiring nuclear submarines or more tanks rather than focus on the quick and practical (although, to his credit, more recently Peter Dutton appears to have tried to do this).
Events in Ukraine serve as an ominous warning of events to come.
Our leaders must galvanise themselves into action to dramatically increase the size and power of our military, as both Russia and China have done.
Europe is the special laggard but trying to get it to act collectively will require leadership of an order never previously seen in the European Union, notably on the part of Germany.
Germany must put aside its fear of itself as a military power and once again take up its traditional role as the most militarily powerful country in Europe.
Happily, the Chinese government has realised that Putin's actions amount to serious over-reach.
China has been conspicuously unwilling to endorse them.
In fact, China has indirectly criticised Russia by insisting that the integrity of national borders should be respected.
In the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it did not vote for a motion condemning Russia’s actions. But, along with India and (strangely) the United Arab Emirates, it abstained, leaving Russia effectively isolated.
Australia’s inept prime minister Scott Morrison would be well-advised to cease his xenophobic ranting about the supposedly perfidious Chinese and focus his limited intellect on the real problems before him that are much more significant and threatening than anything China has said or done so far.
To politicise the national interest in his relentless search for votes might please the idiot fringe of politics but makes Australia more vulnerable.
As for Papua New Guinea, it should be very concerned by the implications of the developments in Europe.
When great powers clash, countries like PNG become pawns in the Great Game.
As PNG found during World War II, this is not a comfortable role, especially for nations unable to defend themselves.