I spent much of the day outdoors yesterday. The weather was glorious, as it as been for the past several days: puffy white popcorn clouds on a field of brilliant blue. Temperature around 78F, low humidity. I did not hear about the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine until late last night–too late to process the tragedy, too late to comment.
I’m rested now, and I’m not going to sweeten my recriminations with “ifs” and words like “suspected” and “alleged.” What happened seemed pretty clear–Russian separatists in the Ukraine, who have been fighting to secede, led by Russian nationals and armed with the most up to date Russian weapons, gleefully announced yesterday that they had used their missiles to shoot down yet another Ukrainian C-130 military cargo plane. When reports began to circulate about the downing of a commercial jetliner, those rebels quickly backed down from their story–What? Us? Oh, no–we were just joking. We didn’t shoot any planes down. We were just kidding! Ha Ha. So sorry, but you know how we are, always trying to sound like we’re badasses; but really, we’re not. We’re gentle. Like kittens.
These jackasses shot down the wrong plane. Not that they should have been able to shoot down ANY plane. I mean: really. This whole Ukraine thing is like the USA decided to grab part of Ontario by dropping a bunch of weapons and military advisors into the hands of some whacked out Northern Michigan militiamen and giving them a shove towards Sault St. Marie. And about as transparent. Russian soldiers and Russian tanks have been running around the war zone, identifying numbers and insignia removed from equipment and uniforms, supporting these so-called rebels–who are nothing more than the descendents of cold war emigres. Their big issue? “We identify more with Russia so we want to be part of Russia.”
The Kremlin, and Tsar Vladimir Putin, quickly released their own, ludicrous ass-cover: there was a plane shot down, but the Ukrainian forces shot it down because they thought it was Putin’s plane. Yes, they’re actually claiming this was a horrible end to a nefarious, botched assassination attempt. Imagine that: Putin thinks it’s all about him.
Except that it is. The Ukrainian conflict has always been nothing more than a bold, blatant land grab under the illusion of a civil war, conducted on the same terms–and with the same subtlety–as a backyard birthday party magician. The guy with the wand says there’s nothing up his sleeve, so we don’t look at the bulge in his jacket where he’s clearly hiding something. We just nod and smile.
Which is what the other major nations of the world have been doing: nodded and smiling, wagging our fingers a little for the press, but otherwise: nothing. Why? Because Europe needs Russian oil, and Russian trade. This guy Putin makes George Bush and his “weapons of mass destruction” excuse for invading Iraq look like a diplomatic genius and his masterstroke.
The thing is: this was inevitable. Look around the world: in Syria, and all over the Middle East. How about the situation in Israel? Palestinians armed with the equivalent of pea-shooters have grown so desperate, and so self-deluded, that they hurl their tiny missiles at Fortress Israel, and Israel obliges by grinding them into dust. The Israel situation is a whole lot more complex on the surface–two nations, two religions, two peoples, and one piece of land–both want the other gone, and neither have anywhere else to go. What is the same is that Israel couldn’t press it’s campaign to drive the Palestinians into the sea, if it wasn’t armed to the teeth by western donor nations, particularly the USA. At the same time, Hamas and it’s sympathizers could not indulge its collective death wish by continually provoking Palestine’s oppressor without it’s own benefactors. It’s easy to condemn either side, depending upon what day it is, but if we stopped giving them weapons and money to buy more weapons, the shooting would stop quickly enough.
That won’t happen, of course. Governments find it too easy to promote their agendas by dropping guns in the hands of regional ne’er-do-wells and bullies, and the profits to be gained by the oft-mentioned military industrial complexes and their host economies as well as the political war chests (via lobbyists corporate campaign contributions) of decision makers are too great to resist.
This is what proxy warfare gets us: the deaths of innocents. I’d love to think that this might make the leaders of powerful nations (like mine) to think twice before showering regional despots, thuggish, penny-ante militiamen and self-styled revolutionaries and using them like pawns for their own political ends.This one should end up firmly in Putin’s lap, but he’s not the only one guilty. The US, UK, China, France, etc have all done it. My thoughts are with the bereaved, and with Malaysia, but this is a tragedy for all of us and a reminder of just how far from civilized we really are.
*I’ll be adding source links later today….