The Comforts of Blame | BINOY KAMPMARK


MH 17 and Putin

 

Investigations tend to be called upon to do just that. Causes are identified; actors are located.  The investigation being demanded by all countries that lost citizens on Malaysian flight MH17 in Ukraine was a perfectly logical, and legal demand.  The language of pre-emption, however, was never far away, begging the question on whether an investigation was even needed.

From the start, the rhetoric surrounding the shooting down of MH17 has been scripted as a matter of moral urgency and outrage.  Culprits have been sought with zeal, and the language of a crime site used to explain the radius within which the remains of the aircraft fell.  Someone pulled the trigger, as much as that can be said.

The extent of that responsibility is being pushed. One person stood out for various pro-Ukrainian circles, and some of political lobbies in Europe and the US: Vladimir Putin, President and supreme bug-bear of Russia.  Papers such as The Week go so far as to ask whether the Dutch will “go after Putin for a war crime” (Jul 18).

It is necessary to visit the clumsy steps taken from the moment the aircraft was shot down, to the political statements being made in western circles over who was supposedly behind the event.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, wasting little time to ponder, told Parliament that this resembled a “crime” more than an accident. The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, expanded on the notion, suggesting that this attack had been against the law of nations, pointing to a rather large Russian hand in it.

US Envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power, similarly identified the chain of supply, showing the line of reasoning at work:  the SA-11 surface-to-air missile system could not be Ukrainian (despite press reports in late June that separatists had captured a Ukrainian Buk system); it had to have come from Russian sources, ergo, it follows that the Vladimir Putin is dictating the course of action in Ukraine.  “Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel.”  Her displays at the UN proved almost melodramatic relative to President Obama’s more tepid response.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte[1], a Republican senator from New Hampshire, felt it screamingly obvious.  “Russia has her fingerprints all over it either way.” Her suggested formula in response: a total ostracising of the country, complete with “Iranian-type” sanctions.  “I think that this is a crime.  This is beyond a crime, this is an act of terrorism.”

Such logic is tempting, but terribly faulty. For Power, the whirlwind in Donetsk, and the secessionist drive renting Ukraine is a Moscow-centred plot to prevent the embrace of democracy from taking hold.  The heavily armed drunks milling about the crash site are mere proxies of the Kremlin’s dark strategy.  “The context of yesterday’s horror is clear: separatist forces backed by the Russian government continue to destabilise Ukraine and undermine the efforts of Ukraine’s elected leaders to build democratic Ukraine that is stable, unified, secure and able to determine its own future.”

No mention is made about the historical progress to that event, or even to Western interference in what ultimately led to the overthrow of a legitimately elected Ukrainian leadership.  That past is truly a distant country.

Then come the operational issues on the ground.  Supply is not control.  The distinction here seems to have blurred, with attempts to meld the two concepts.  Well it might be that the rocket system was supplied to the separatists from Russian sources.  There might even have been training and expertise thrown into the bargain.  But it is quite another thing to suggest that they came with policy strings, orders and rules of dictation attached.  If anything, there is much to suggest that the rebels are not necessarily in Putin’s best books.  (It would be hard to imagine intoxicated gun toting misfits as solid political material.)

Mary Dejevsky, writing for The Spectator (Jul 20), points out that Russia was unimpressed by rebel efforts to regain military headquarters lost at Sloviansk two weeks prior to the MH17 incident.  With the election of President Petro Poroshenko, a change of direction may well be taking place.  Nor could the account from Kiev of the crash be deemed reliable, with its insistence on blocking and restrictions being placed on the site by separatists.  (Evidently not too many, given the rummaging[2] by some journalists among the remains.) As of this writing, the blackboxes have been handed to Malaysian authorities, and most of the bodies have been collected under OSCE supervision. Notwithstanding this, such behaviour has constituted, for Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, a disgraceful interference with a crash site.

Other factors of control have already been mentioned as crucial in this grim chapter.  The continued flights by international carriers through the conflict, even after revelations that transport craft had been shot down, shows that aviation authorities may well have gone to sleep.  The one qualification here was that the airspace over the Donetsk region below 32,000 feet was closed, meaning that carriers capitalised on flying at higher altitudes.

What MH17 reveals is that the Cold War allusions, the secrecy dogmas, and the desire to make abundant hay from the information battles, has emptied the deaths of the victims of poignancy and reflective grief.  A cruel atmosphere prevails, and it is proving toxic.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge; and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Journal of GlobalFaultlines.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

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What Putin Knows | MIKE WHITNEY


Putin Knows What Happened to MH17, But He’s Not Saying–Yet ….

 

 ”We have repeatedly called on all parties to immediately stop the bloodshed and sit down at the negotiating table. We strongly believe that if military action in the East of Ukraine had not been renewed on the 28th of June, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened. However, no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political aims. Such events should unite and not divide people.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Official statement on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17

“Lets be clear, both Russia and the US know what happened. They’d have to. Their intelligence and orbital systems saw it all…. They’d have to know.”

Omen 4, comments line Zero Hedge

Washington’s plan to “pivot” to Asia by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine and sabotaging trade relations between Europe and Russia, entered a new phase last Thursday when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from east Ukraine. Since then, the western media and prominent members of the US political establishment have used the incident to attack Russia mercilessly and to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the deaths of the 295 passengers.

On Sunday, the Obama administration launched its most impressive propaganda blitz to date, scheduling appearances for  US Secretary of State John Kerry  on all five Sunday morning talk shows where he made unsubstantiated claims that MH17 was shot down by Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine.  According to Kerry, Russia has not only “supported, armed and trained” the separatists, but also provided them with the missile system (BUK) which was used to bring down the jetliner.

On CBS’s  “Face the Nation”, Kerry said:

“We know for certain that the separatists have a proficiency that they’ve gained by training from Russians as to how to use these sophisticated SA-11 systems….. there’s enormous amount of evidence, even more evidence than I just documented, that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these system, training the people on them.” (“Kerry Says Russia Trained Separatists to Use Antiaircraft Missiles”, New York Times)

Amazingly, Kerry’s claims don’t square with those of his boss, President Barack Obama who admitted on Friday that he didn’t know who shot down MH17 or why. He said, “I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what intentions those who might have launched the surface-to-air missile might have had… In terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals, you know, personnel ordered the strike, how it came about—those are things that I think are going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.”

The fact that neither the contents of the black boxes or the cockpit recordings have yet been revealed didn’t deter Kerry from making accusations and possibly tainting the investigation. Nor did Kerry mention the fact that the Ukrainian military –who also had BUK missile systems in the area–may have mistakenly taken down the airliner. None of the five hosts challenged Kerry on any of his claims. He was able to provide the state’s view of the incident without challenge or debate, just as one would expect in a dictatorship where information is carefully monitored.

And Kerry didn’t stop there either. He went on to claim that Moscow had sent “a convoy several weeks ago of about 150 vehicles with armored personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, all of which crossed over from Russia into the eastern part of Ukraine and was turned over to the separatists.”

Needless to say, none of the major media or respective Intel agencies (who closely follow activities on the border) have uttered a word about Kerry’s phantom convoy. Without satellite imagery or some other proof, we must assume that Kerry’s claim is about as reliable as his bogus 4-page “White Paper” that pinned the use of sarin gas on the Syrian government, a charge that was designed to escalate US involvement in the Syrian war and–as journalist Robert Parry says, “spur President Obama into a quick decision to bomb Syrian government targets.”

It’s also worth noting that the journalist who co-authored Sunday’s piece on Kerry in the New York Times was none other than Michael R. Gordon. In 2002 Gordon co-wrote a piece about aluminum tubes with Judith Miller which was intended to scare readers “with images of mushroom clouds” into supporting the war in Iraq.   The story turned out to be complete baloney, but it helped to pave the way for the US invasion as it was intended to do.   Gordon escaped blame for the article, while the discredited  Miller was released.

Now the politicians and the media are at it again; trying to whip up war fever to get the public on board for another bloody intervention. Only this time, the target audience is not really the American people as much as it is Europeans. The real objective here, is to build support for additional economic sanctions as well as a deployment of NATO troops to Russia’s western border. Washington want to sabotage further economic integration between the EU and Russia so that it can control  the flow of vital resources to the EU, crash the Russian economy, and establish a tollbooth between the continents. It’s all part of Washington’s “pivot” strategy that is critical to maintaining global hegemony throughout the 21st century. This is from the NY Times:

“If investigators are able to confirm suspicions that the Malaysia Airlines jet was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian rebels who mistook it for a military aircraft, American officials expressed hope that the tragedy will underscore their case that Moscow has been violating Ukrainian sovereignty. While Mr. Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia just a day before, Europeans refused to adopt measures as stringent out of fear of jeopardizing their own economic ties….

The Obama administration already has additional sanctions prepared that could be put into effect quickly if Mr. Obama so chooses. “The question is does this finally move the Europeans across that threshold,” said a senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to speak more candidly. “I don’t know, but how could it not?”

European officials were cautious in their initial reactions, seeking time and information before jumping to possible consequences, and were reluctant to assign blame. But most of the passengers were Europeans. The majority of them, 154 in all, were from the Netherlands, where the flight originated, which could increase pressure on European governments to respond….Some analysts said the disaster would invariably lead to a re-evaluation of Europe’s approach to Russia.

“Ultimately this is going to ratchet up pressure within Europe to do what they should have done a long time ago,” said John E. Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine now at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “The strength of the opposition to firm steps remains strong, and so it’s not going to go away. It’s just that their position just took a serious hit and it should lead to a stronger set of European sanctions.”…

While Mr. Obama did not articulate such a position, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, gave voice publicly to what administration officials were saying privately….“Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this. It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over European territory. There should be outrage in European capitals.”

Can you see what’s going on? Washington doesn’t care about the facts. What matters to Obama and Co. is getting the Europeans on board (“ratcheting up pressure within Europe”) so they can gin up the sanctions, shut off  Russian gas, deprive Putin of a vital source of revenue, and set up shop (NATO bases) in Eurasia.” Whether US Intel agencies were involved in the missile attack or not doesn’t change the fact that Washington clearly benefits from the tragedy.

Keep in mind, that the reason Putin hasn’t deployed Russian troops to stop the violence in east Ukraine is because the EU is his biggest trading partner and he doesn’t want to do anything that will put the kibosh on their business dealings.  Russia needs Europe just like Europe needs Russia. They’re a perfect fit, which is why Washington has concocted this goofy plan to throw a wrench in the works. It’s because Washington wants to be the Kingfish in Eurasia and control the continents’ resources as well as the growth of regional economies. To achieve that objective, they need to convince EU leaders and people that Putin is a reckless aggressor who can’t be trusted. That’s why Kiev has launched one provocation after another since the legitimate Ukrainian government (Viktor Yanukovych) was ousted in late February and replaced with by a US-backed junta government. Most of the provocations have gone unreported in the western media, although they have regularly involved violations of international law and crimes against humanity, like the use of incendiary “phosphorous” ordnance on June, 12 in Slavyansk,    or the bombing of a kindergarten in Slavyansk  or the deliberate bombing of hospitals in east Ukraine,  or the killing of journalists  or the firing of mortar rounds across the border into Russia  or the massacre at Odessa where 42 people were burned to death in a fire at the Trade Unions Building that was started by pro-junta hooligans and neo Nazis. None of these were reported in the western media where the coverage is tailored to advance the corporate-state agenda.

All of these incidents were concocted with one goal in mind; to provoke Putin into sending in the tanks thus providing the media with the opportunity to demonize him as the new Hitler. Putin has wisely avoided that trap deciding instead to work collaboratively with EU leaders Merkel and  Hollande to try to persuade Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to stop the bombardment in the east and agree to an immediate ceasefire.

Poroshenko, however, who takes his orders from Washington, has refused to end the violence. In fact, on Monday the “chocolate king” launched a massive attack on the city of Donetsk, home to nearly one million civilians. Here’s a clip from a report from RT on Monday July 21:

“A heavy firefight is underway in a section of the city of Donetsk, with cannonade heard downtown. Self-defense reports of pro-Kiev armored vehicles and infantry trying to cut through defenses next to the central railway terminal.

Ukrainian troops equipped with tanks and armored vehicles are making an attempt to break into Donetsk, a city of approximately 950,000 people, an official of the rebels’ self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Sergey Kavtaradze, informed Reuters.” (“Kiev forces attack city of Donetsk, civilian casualties reported“, RT)

Poroshenko has no intention of complying with a ceasefire, because a ceasefire does not achieve the Obama administration’s objective, which is to lure Putin into a bloody and protracted guerilla war. This is what makes the downing of MH17 so suspicious, because it could very well be a false flag operation intended to hurl more mud on Putin.

In any event, the fate of MH17 isn’t going to be a secret for long. As journalist Pepe Escobar points out in a recent piece in the Asia Times,  Russian intelligence has collected tons of data that will help connect the dots. Here’s a clip from Escobar’s latest titled “It was Putin’s missile?”:

“Russian intelligence (has)  been surveilling/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, from where, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.” (“It was Putin’s missile?” Pepe Escobar, Asia Times)

So, one way or another, we’re going to know what happened.  The US and Russia have the data they need to figure out where the missile was launched and who launched it. They probably even have recordings of  communications between Air Traffic Tower and the airliner. They know it all, but they’ll probably be cautious about what they reveal and when they reveal it.

My guess, is that Putin will drag his feet to see whether the investigation is thorough, transparent and even-handed or an elaborate hoax used to discredit him in the eyes of his trading partners.

Clearly, the Obama team see this as an opportunity to do a number on Putin, so they could be tempted to use fake evidence like the grainy photos that popped up in the New York Times some months ago that were supposed to prove that Russian military experts were secretly directing the rebellion in east Ukraine. (The photos were fake.) If they try a stunt like that this time around, Putin will be ready for them. And, of course, if he has solid proof that the plane was blown up by Poroshenko’s henchmen, then there could be hell to pay. In fact, it might just bring Obama’s proxy war to a screeching halt.

One can only hope.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

 

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