We all pin our hopes on diplomacy to bring about a peaceful end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But there is little chance of that happening.

John Bolton, former national security adviser to the Trump administration, was on Drivetime on RTÉ radio recently. He met Vladamir Putin many times and was sobering in his summing up of the Russian president. He described how cold-blooded he is and recalled one conversation they had where Putin said: “We have our logic, you have yours – let’s see which one prevails.” It is ridiculous to believe he will be convinced to back down.


Isn’t it the way of the world now anyway in our own daily lives whereby people form entrenched views on everything? The development of social media has galvanised this behaviour of people feeling entitled to their own facts and if you don’t agree with them, you are wrong.

Twitter is the polar opposite to diplomacy. The fact that the world’s richest man Elon Musk has bought it as a plaything stinks. I am open to an argument on this but right now my opinion is that it is obscene.

Anger, hatred and cancel culture has filled the vacuum once occupied by discussion

There is all this talk about free speech and how he will allow all views aired. Maybe I am missing something, but from what I see online, it is not regulated enough. Free speech is important but let’s not confuse it with hate speech. The line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Politicians are as bad as anybody in their trolling and whipping up sentiment which flies in the face of diplomacy and debate.

Anger, hatred and cancel culture has filled the vacuum once occupied by discussion. There is no middle ground and it is being replicated in politics where we hear more and more politicians, parties and governments being labelled as either “far right” or “far left”.


People are being dragged to the margins to a point that they can never be convinced to negotiate or see another point of view. It is laughable how the right and left are bumping into each other with illogical ideologies and mutual disdain for the establishment or the middle ground.

A case in point was the recent French election where in the lead-up to the final run-off between Macron and Le Pen, it was speculated supporters of the so-called “far left” candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who had been eliminated in the first round, would switch their allegiance to Marine Le Pen, described as “far right”. I saw one voter declare this intention on Channel 4 news.

We are living in echo chambers. I look at conferences where all the speakers are of the same opinion and talking to themselves. For example, at a conference organised by environmentalists to talk about destructive agriculture, why not have a farmer on the panel?

Or when a farming body is organising a conference on the same issue, why not invite environmental NGOs to take part? It is difficult to reach consensus on important issues if we are not willing to respect opposing views and tease them out. The cultural divide which runs along party lines in the US is another example of this phenomenon of never the twain shall meet.

In a world where societies are becoming more diametrically opposed, there is little point in placing any hope on Vladamir Putin being brought round to see the ills of his ways. CL

Turf wars

In all the arguing about turf, nobody has mentioned the fact that it was probably the most hateful job ever for any youngster forced to spend a day in the bog!