By Pater Tenebrarum at Acting Man blog
It's Putin's fault! Every Western government and most of the Western media are sure of it, so it must be true, right? As soon as Malaysian airlines flight MH 17 had crashed over the Eastern Ukraine, they all just knew “whodunnit”. The same people who were “completely surprised” when ISIS conquered the entire Northern part of Iraq have solved the puzzle of flight MH 17's crash literally in minutes!
We actually suspect that the oligarch currently running the Ukraine, “chocolate king” Petr Poroshenko, would have personally preferred negotiation over war in the Eastern Ukraine. He continues to be egged on by the US administration, and the more hawkish elements in the EU as well as in his own administration (not to forget, far right politicians continue to hold several powerful positions in the Ukrainian government, including the vice premiership, the ministry of interior and the job of prosecutor-general). Contrast this with Putin, who keeps admonishing Poroshenko to choose peace and negotiation. Of course it is completely unrealistic to expect the separatists to unilaterally throw down their arms and essentially surrender in the “hope” that a victorious Kiev will then deign to listen to their grievances. And yet, this is what is essentially demanded of them.
So Poroshenko has intensified his war (sorry, “anti-terror operation”) and over the past few weeks Ukraine's army has begun to indiscriminately shell cities, killing scores of civilians and causing an growing humanitarian crisis. Russia is currently housing more than 25,000 refugees from the Eastern Ukraine in makeshift camps. Here is what happened most recently:
“At least 20 civilians have been killed during fighting in eastern Ukraine today despite calls from the international community for a ceasefire. Just hours after flight MH17 was shot down, the eastern city of Lugansk was hit by shelling leaving hundreds of residents wounded.
Pictures show bodies lining the streets covered in blankets in the wake of the attack which was reportedly carried out by Ukrainian forces.
Vladimir Putin has called for both sides to lay down their weapons after the Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 298 passengers was hit by a surface-to-air missile yesterday, but the request seemed to fall on deaf ears.
The Russian President said he was in contact with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after the Boeing 777 passenger airliner came down in an area under rebel control.
He said: 'Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations. It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a tragedy.'
Putin, who has blamed the airliner tragedy on Poroshenko for refusing to extend a shaky ceasefire with rebels in the region, said he hoped the Ukrainian president would be able to offer a peaceful way out of the conflict. Kiev accuses pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the airliner with help from Russian intelligence representatives.
Ukraine premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk said pro-Moscow rebels are preventing emergency workers reaching the scene of the air crash, despite promises to the contrary. His allegation raises the fear that vital evidence could be tampered with.
'These bandits do not allow our national agencies investigating the plane crash to reach the scene of the tragedy,' he said. The Ukrainian authorities are working with the OSCE to resolve this problem, he said.
'We are doing our utmost together with the law enforcement authorities and the OSCE to bring the national commission investigating this tragedy to the scene.' Ukraine yesterday opened criminal proceedings into a 'terrorist attack' on the Boeing.
It goes without saying that the fear that the government in Kiev will “tamper with the evidence” should at least be just as great. Let us not forget, it has to this day not properly investigated the false flag attack that killed both protesters and policemen on Maidan square. Not only that, Kiev's secret service already tried to pin the downing of the airliner on the rebels with a clumsily faked tape recording. The fake tape was apparently put together before the plane came down, which is highly suspicious to say the least.
As Jason Ditz reports, the accusations against Russia are getting more shrill by the minute, based on no tangible evidence and a story that keeps changing. A day earlier he noted that the crash is apparently seen as a great opportunity to put pressure on Russia, regardless of the lack of evidence:
“The publicly offered evidence against everyone in the Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash remains as it was yesterday, sparse and of dubious trustworthiness. The rhetoric continues to pick up steam, however, with assorted Western officials continuing to pronounce absolute certainty as to the official truth, whatever it happens to be at any given time.
Broadly, it centers on proclamations of the Ukrainian rebels’ guilt, and Russian culpability, though the narrative tends to be flexible, and yesterday’s insistence of the rebels using a 9k37 Buk vehicle seized from Ukraine’s military has, without explanation, transitioned into the vehicles being provided by Russia, of which Ukraine insists incontrovertible, though totally secret, proof.
The Obama Administration is similarly claiming evidence of rebel guilt, though their evidence too is being withheld, likely in anticipation of further changes to the official story.
As the accusations fly fast and freely, another new question has emerged. If, as Ukraine claims, it had so much proof of the rebels having such advanced anti-aircraft missiles, then why was the claim never made publicly until nearly a day after the crash. Likewise, Ukraine’s claims of rebel shoot-downs of military aircraft in the leadup to the MH17 incident seem to be morphing, as it was only hours before that incident that Ukraine was insisting Russia’s Air Force was directly behind the downing of their Su-25 warplanes.
The wreckage is still barely inspected, and Ukraine is throwing around claims of a cover-up, perhaps anticipating that their allegations will not be upheld when the evidence is examined.
But for most nations, particularly the US and other Western nations, the fallout of the incident is something to be shopped around for diplomatic advantage, with officials pushing Russia to forcibly end the east Ukrainian rebellion as some sort of payment for ending the hysterical anti-Russia rhetoric surrounding the entire incident.
Russia so far seems content to hold out for actual evidence, but Western officials appear to believe it is a buyer’s market, and that the perception of guilt is the real problem for Russia, not whether it is upheld by weeks of investigation.
The Danger of Upholding a False Narrative
As Robert Parry points out, upholding a “false narrative” in the media redounds on the political process, and is therefore potentially extremely dangerous. He rightly points out that we should all know better after the Iraq invasion disaster. Parry is quite correctly noting that the US mainstream media can in actual practice often not be differentiated from the media in a totalitarian state. Once a narrative has been decided upon, no deviations from it are allowed, even if the narrative becomes increasingly absurd. A journalist straying from the path risks his career:
“But how did the U.S. news media present the Ukraine story to the American people?First, there was the simplistic and misleading depiction of the pro-EU demonstrations as “democratic” when they mostly reflected the discontent of the pro-European population of western Ukraine, not the views of the more pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east and south who had pushed Yanukovych to victory in the 2010 election. Last time I checked, “democracy” referred to rule by the majority, not mob rule.
Then, despite the newsworthiness of the neo-Nazi role in the protests, the U.S. news media blacked-out these brown shirts because that ugly reality undercut the pleasing good-guys-vs.-bad-guys storyline. Then, when the snipers opened fire on protesters and policemen, the U.S. news media jumped to the conclusion that the killers were working for Yanukovych because that, too, fit with the desired narrative.
The violent overthrow of the democratically elected Yanukovych was hailed as an expression of “democracy,” again with the crucial role of the neo-Nazi militias largely airbrushed from the picture. The unanimous and near unanimous parliamentary votes that followed – as storm troopers patrolled the halls of government buildings – were further cited as evidence of “democracy” and “reform.”
The anger and fear of Ukrainians in the east and south were dismissed as Russian “propaganda” and Crimea’s move to extract itself from this political chaos was denounced as Russian “aggression.” U.S. news outlets casually denounced Putin as a “thug.” Washington Post columnist George F. Will called Putin “Stalin’s spawn.”
Former Secretary of State Clinton cited the Crimea situation to compare Putin to Hitler and to suggest that Putin was intent on recreating the old Soviet empire, though Crimea is only 10,000 square miles, about one-tenth of one percent the size of the old Soviet Union.
And, it wasn’t just that some or nearly all mainstream U.S. news organizations adopted this one-sided and misguided narrative. It was a consensus throughout all major U.S. news outlets. With a uniformity that one would normally associate with a totalitarian state, no competing narrative was permitted in the Big Media, regardless of the actual facts.
Whenever any of the more complex reality was included in a story, it was presented as Russian claims that were then followed by argumentative challenges. Yet, when U.S. officials made preposterous remarks about how uncivilized it was to violate another country’s sovereignty, the hypocrisy of their points went uncontested.
Having worked many years in the mainstream U.S. news media, I fully understand how this process works and why it happens. Amid the patriotic chest-thumping that usually accompanies a U.S. military operation or American righteous outrage over some other nation’s actions, it is dangerous for your career to go against the flag-waving.
But it’s always been my view that such self-censorship is faux patriotism, as much as the happy story lines are false narratives. Even if many Americans don’t want the truth, it is still the job of journalists to give them the truth. Otherwise, the U.S. democratic process is distorted and made dangerous.
Propaganda leads to bad policies as politicians – even when they know better – start parroting the errant conventional wisdom. We’ve seen this now with President Obama who – more than anyone – realizes the value of Putin’s cooperation on Syria and Iran but now must join in denouncing the Russian president and demanding sanctions.
In light of the reactions of various politicians and the unwarranted, though not unexpected, ad hoc condemnation of Russia for the plane crash, one must actually wonder: Do the neo-cons in the US foreign policy apparatus really want to provoke a war with Russia? We are asking because at times it sure sounds like it. As Jason Ditz notes:
The usual suspects in the GOP aren’t nearly so circumspect about their saber rattling, however, with Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) demanding broad sanctions against Russia, massive shipments of US weapons to the Ukrainian military, and direct deployments of US troops “just for openers,” with more escalation, presumably, continuing in spite of the lack of evidence.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R – NH) centered on the sanctions front, demanding Iranian-style sanctions against Russia for the “act of terrorism.” And if you think that’s as far as sanction-mongering goes, you’ve clearly forgotten Rep. Peter King (R – NY).
Rep. King not only demanding sanctions but an outright embargo on all of Russia, including banning all flights from leaving Russian airspace. King lamented that the Europeans needed to “show some guts” and go along with his act of war.
With so many top political figures hitching their horses to the blame Russia wagon, the fact that the investigation hasn’t even really begun seems very much beside the point. More concerningly, as evidenced in previous probes of their dubious allegations, they don’t like to be told their wrong, so US involvement in these probes must inevitable be questioned as an attempt not to find out the truth, but to find any shred of evidence, manufactured or not, that might vindicate the war party on their march to Moscow.”
John McCain is one of the biggest shills for the military-industrial complex in Washington. We have previously dubbed the man “the angel of death”, because wherever he shows up in the world, people must soon expect to wade knee-deep in blood and guts. Our readers know that we are not exactly members of the Obama fan club; since both parties are unanimous in their support of the welfare-warfare State, we hold that it makes little difference who rules the roost.
In the wake of the revelations about NSA surveillance one could in fact well argue that Obama is an even greater danger to liberty than his predecessor G.W. Bush was. With Bush one at least knew what to expect. By contrast, smooth-talking Obama, after promising before he was elected that he would dismantle the most egregious government assaults on liberty perpetrated by the Bush administration, has made them worse in nearly every conceivable respect. Nevertheless, one shudders to think what might have happened if a blood-thirsty warmonger like John McCain (of “Bomb, bomb bomb Iran” sing-along fame) had been elected president. Judging from the occasions when he demanded immediate military intervention in recent years, we would expect the US to be involved in up to five or six different wars by now (Justin Raimondo's 2008 portrait of McCain in the American Conservative remains an essential read in this context. He characterizes McCain as a “militarist suffering from acute narcissism”, which is hitting the nail on the head).
The US media meanwhile keep stoking the flames with their irresponsible non-journalism. If the US government had a digestive tract, much of the US mainstream press would be found deeply embedded in its nether regions.
Apart from the fact that Malaysian airplanes have lately developed a strong propensity to disappear unexpectedly from the skies (at times for no clearly discernible reasons), it has happened quite frequently in the past that passenger aircraft have been shot down by mistake. The former Soviet Union and the US were responsible for one each and one aircraft has in fact been shot down by Ukraine's military in 2001 (they initially denied it).
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 — On September 1, 1983, 239 people aboard a Korean Air Lines flight bound from New York to Seoul were killed when the passenger jet was shot down by Soviet fighters during the Cold War. KAL Flight 007 had veered off course and into Soviet territory, and a pair of fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the perceived intruder. (it later turned out this was the result of a horrendous mistake on the part of the Soviets – that didn't keep the US administration from disseminating falsified evidence about the incident for propaganda purposes – plus ca change…)
Iran Air Flight 655 — On July 3, 1988, in the volatile Persian Gulf, a U.S. ship, the USS Vincennes, shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300 bound for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. All 290 passengers and crew aboard were killed. The United States said the Navy ship had been exchanging fire with Iranian ships and mistook the passenger jet for an Iranian fighter jet (but, but…hasn't it just been claimed that it is almost impossible to “mistake a commercial airliner for a fighter jet” – by a US official, no less?)
Transair Georgia — On three consecutive days beginning on September 21, 1993, three civilian planes belonging to Transair Georgia were hit by missiles, killing 136 people altogether. Two planes were hit by Abkhazian rebel missiles, with 27 people killed aboard one and 108 on the other. A third plane came under fire as it was being boarded, leaving one crew member dead.
Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 — On October 4, 2001, a Siberian Airlines Tupelov 154 headed from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Russia, was shot down and plunged into the Black Sea, killing all 78 aboard, most of them Russian-born Israelis. The Ukrainian military denied at first but later admitted its military mistakenly shot down the plane during a training exercise.
This is the complete list of possibilities:
1.Russia shot the plane down on purpose
2. Russia shot it down by mistake.
- Ukraine shot it down on purpose
- Ukraine shot it down by mistake
- The rebels shot it down on purpose
- The rebels shot it down by mistake
We can rule out 1. for the reason that Russia would have absolutely nothing to gain from doing something like this. For the very same reason 5. can also be ruled out. The rebels would probably take great pains to avoid shooting down a civilian plane, since it can only hurt their cause, while gaining them absolutely nothing. 2. sounds highly unlikely as well, given the crash happened in Ukrainian territory. Why would Russia shoot at anything flying over Ukrainian territory, even by mistake? As far as we are concerned, 4.and 6. are the most likely options. In other words, most probably someone made a stupid and tragic mistake.
The main question seems to be whether the rebels had the kind of weaponry that could actually hit an airplane flying at 35,000 feet. It is well known by now that if the plane was shot down, a BUK missile system is the most likely culprit. Ukraine's army is definitely in possession of these systems. Whether the rebels also have or had one is a matter of conjecture at this point, but it is certainly possible. No doubt Russia has in fact helped arm the rebels to level the playing field between them and the Ukrainian army.
One thing seems nearly certain though: if the plane was indeed shot down (note that there is no certainty yet on this point) it would most likely not have happened had Poroshenko agreed to prolonging the ceasefire as both EU officials and Russia's government urged him repeatedly to do.
If it turns out that the plane has indeed been shot down, it was most likely due to a terrible mistake. The plane crash is a great tragedy, but there is no reason to compound the tragedy by letting warmongers and interventionists misuse it for their purposes.