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The Gadarene rush to war

21 July 2014

As we approach the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, and the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second, politicians are using the same sabre-rattling rhetoric as was used by politicians back then. I Googled for “MH17” five minutes ago, and what did I get?

  1. MH17 plane crash: Kerry points finger at Russia

  2. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: What we know today

  3. Cameron tells Putin shooting down of MH17 was

Two of the first three hits focus on the utterances of belligerent war-mongering politicians.

As for Putin, he points a finger at Poroshenko, and says if he sought a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict, the downing of the flight MH17 would not have happened.  If one compares the recent rhetoric, Putin’s is actually the least belligerent and most peaceful. He calls for peace in Ukraine, and for an independent investigation of the airliner crash. His accusation of Poroshenko is indirect, for allowing the conflict to develop and spread.

A different, and, in my view more sensible comment on this comes from Peter Hitchens: Mourn the victims… but don’t turn one tragedy into a global catastrophe | Mail Online:

One thing we should have learned in the past 100 years is that war is hell. We might also have noticed that, once begun, war is hard to stop and often takes shocking turns.

So those who began the current war in Ukraine – the direct cause of the frightful murder of so many innocents on Flight MH17 on Thursday – really have no excuse.

There is no doubt about who they were. In any war, the aggressor is the one who makes the first move into neutral or disputed territory.

And that aggressor was the European Union, which rivals China as the world’s most expansionist power, swallowing countries the way performing seals swallow fish (16 gulped down since 1995).

Ignoring repeated and increasingly urgent warnings from Moscow, the EU – backed by the USA – sought to bring Ukraine into its orbit. It did so through violence and illegality, an armed mob and the overthrow of an elected president.

I warned then that this would lead to terrible conflict. I wrote in March: ‘Having raised hopes that we cannot fulfil, we have awakened the ancient passions of this cruel part of the world – and who knows where our vainglorious folly will now lead?’

Now we see. Largely unreported over the past few months, a filthy little war has been under way in Eastern Ukraine.

Many innocents have died, unnoticed in the West. Neither side has anything to boast of – last Tuesday 11 innocent civilians died in an airstrike on a block of flats in the town of Snizhne, which Ukraine is unconvincingly trying to blame on Russia. So PLEASE do not be propagandised by Thursday’s horrible slaughter into forgetting what is really going on.

Powerful weapons make it all too easy for people to do stupid, frightful things. Wars make such things hugely more likely to happen.

In September 1983, the Soviet air force, inflamed by Cold War passions and fears, inexcusably massacred 269 people aboard a Korean Airlines 747.

In July 1988, highly trained US Navy experts aboard the cruiser Vincennes, using ultra-modern equipment, moronically mistook an Iranian Airbus, Iran Air Flight 655, for an F-14 Tomcat warplane. They shot the airliner out of the sky, killing 290 innocent people, including 66 children.

All kinds of official untruths were told at the time to excuse this. In October 2001, bungling Ukrainian servicemen on exercise were the main suspects for the destruction of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea. Whoever did it, they killed 78 passengers and crew en route from Israel to Novosibirsk – though Ukraine has never officially admitted guilt.

Complex quarrels about blame for such horrors are often never resolved. I am among many who do not believe that Libya had anything to do with the mass murder of those aboard Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, very likely an Iranian-backed retaliation for the Airbus tragedy. All the evidence points to a terror group operating from Syrian-controlled territory, and none points to Libya.

But at the time of the prosecution, we were trying to make friends with Syria, which has since gone back near the top of our enemies list but may soon be our ally again, against the fanatics of Isis. Confused? You should be.

So, let us just mourn the dead and comfort the bereaved, and regret human folly and the wickedness of war. Let us not allow this miserable event to be fanned into a new war. That is what we did almost 100 years ago, and it is about time we learned something from that.

I don’t usually regard the UK Daily Mail as a reliable source, and in this case Peter Hitchens follows this article with a lot of twaddle that undermines his own credibility, but in this affair nobody has much credibility. In the remainder of his article, Hitchens is clearly looking for any excuse to bash the EU, just as Kerry, Cameron & Co are looking for any excuse to bash Putin.

What we see is what Orwell predicted in his novel 1984, where the propaganda of politicians about perceived enemies is echoed by the media, and everyone is expected to believe it.

MH17aBarely three years ago the UN Security Council, at the urging of Western governments, imposed a “no-fly zone” over Libya, to stop Gaddafi from “bombing his own people”. If this was their honest concern, honestly expressed, should they not be imposing a similar “no-fly” zone over Ukraine, to stop Poroshenko from bombing “is own people”? And should the UN Security Council not be imposing a no-fly zone over Gaza?

But, we are told by the Western media, “separatists” are good when Western leaders approve of them (as in the case of Croatia and Slovenia in 1990, and Kosovo in 1999), but bad when Western leaders do not approve of them (as in the case of South Ossetia a few years ago, and of the eastern Ukraine now). Whether they support separatists or don’t support them, however, they always blame someone else for the resulting violence, and in doing so they make people like Putin, with his calls for peaceful solutions and independent investigations,  look good.

RonPaulThere was, however, at least one Western politician who attributed the disaster to the same causes that Putin did. Ron Paul is a bit of a maverick, rather on the periphery of his own party, but I believe his analysis of the situation comes a lot closer to the truth than the disingenuous bluster of Cameron and Kerry.

The time to point a finger at Putin, and to blame him, will be if it is ever discovered who actually shot down the Malaysian airliner, and who was responsible for giving the order that shot it down. If Putin then gives a medal to those responsible, as the US Goverrnment gave a medal to Captain Harris of the Vincennes for shooting down an airliner, then will be the time to point a finger at Putin, and tell him that it is “unacceptable”. As it is, Cameron and Kerry are as much to blame as Putin, is not more so, because they have consistently fanned the flames of the conflict and have done nothing to try to extinguish them.

Until such time as that happens, let everyone involved see the conflict as “unacceptable” and do their best to reduce and mitigate it, rather than fanning the flames, as the belligerent rhetoric of many politicians is doing at the moment.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    21 July 2014 7:41 am

    reasonable comments. I especially like the concept of no fly zones – it makes airline safety sense and may help protect ‘innocents’ on the ground in both locations (Gaza and eastern Ukraine). How would you propose controlling rocket launches out of Gaza?

    • 21 July 2014 8:41 am

      I suspect that Hamas rockets fired at Gaza, like Ukrainian rockets fired at Russian territory, are aimed at provoking a disproportionate military response, for which they can then appeal for sympathy. Israel can do so with impunity, because no one influential will critise them. Russia can’t do it with impunity, because everyone is criticising them in advance, so they will be punished for doing it whether they do it or not. Hamas can use pictures of Israeli atrocities to elicit sympathy, and for anti-Israel propaganda. I suspect that Ukraine is hoping to provoke a military response so they can get more economic and military aid from the EU and “the West” generally, but so far Russia hasn’t taken the bait. But Israel has taken the bait, calculating that the trap is too weak to do them much harm.

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