Summary: Americans cheer as our leaders restart the cold war, for reasons known only to them (just like the Iraq War). They need a casus belli, and have the ability (abetted by our gullibility) to produce one. In our eagerness for conflict, a defining characteristic of us since 9-11), it’s easy to do. This post attempts to put the current crisis into a more useful context.
“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”
— Ray Bradbury, “All flesh is one: what matter scores?” (1975)
Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visible.
Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.
— Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching
- Another perspective
- Who are the sinners?
- Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
- What we know for certain
- For More Information
- Obama’s future entry in Guinness
(1) Another perspective
One cause of conflict, often leading to war, is people’s inability to see things from the other nation’s perspective — and so see things in terms of good guys and bad guys, with us of course as the angels.
Russia, during the last days of the USSR, left Eastern Europe with a tacit agreement that the West would not occupy it. Respecting Russia’s sphere of influence — its “near abroad“, their version of the Monroe Doctrine — might have led to a new era of global peace in the new millennium.
Instead we’ve aggressively moved into the geopolitical space left vacant by the collapse of the USSR. Russia let us run until we came up to their borders in Ukraine. Then came the 2014 Ukraine coup. We don’t know the degree of western involvement. We seldom do in such things, until years or decades later (only last year did the CIA admit its role in the 1953 Iran Coup). However, it fits the pattern of past coups run with assistance of the UK’s SIS and US CIA. Then the new friendly government is invited into NATO.
(2) Who are the sinners?
Who are the angels and devils in this? As usual in geopolitics, both sides are sinners (not every year is 1939).
The West’s leaders must have known that shifting the Ukraine into the West’s military and economic alliances would inevitably start a conflict with Russia. Perhaps like the US response to the USSR’s involvement in Cuba, which wrecked Cuba’s economy and brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (See the terrifying transcripts of the White House Executive Committee described in The Virtual JFK).
Let’s see these events in a wider context. Only if Russia works hard can they equal the total of nations invaded and occupied in this century by the US and UK. Enormously destructive occupations for the local people, especially minorities and women. The regimes we helped overthrew in Afghanistan (Operation Cyclone 1979-89) and Iraq (2003 Operation Iraq Freedom) were friendly to women, unlike the regimes we helped install. Both were allies of Russia. Apparently the former was less important to the West than the latter.
We have no right to cast ourselves as saints and judges in this play, or any other with Russia.
(3) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Loud voices in America immediately blamed Russia — even Putin personally — for the shooting of Flight 370. That’s quite mad. Each of three nations involved has shot down civilian airliners, with less excuse than MH17 (none in war zones, or through a proxy). Airlines flying through air defense systems easily become collateral damage.
More importantly, initial reports of such incidents have proven quite false.
(a) The US government lied in 1960 about Gary Powers’ U2 flight over the USSR, shot down by their military.
(c) The USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988. The US initially denied it. The next day we took responsibility, but made a wide range of claims in defense about the location of the ship and the behavior of the aircraft. Most of these were proven false during the next five years (people reading foreign news learned the truth at the time). Contrary to US claims the Vincennes was in Iranian waters, the plane was flying the correct course, it was ascending (not descending), etc. See this Newsweek – ABC News report for details, and this Proceedings article for deeper analysis. The US paid compensation in 1996 only after Iran sued in the ICJ; the US has never apologized.
(d) Ukraine’s military shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 on 4 October 2001. For 9 days they denied responsibility.
Four weeks later we still have almost no data proving who shot down MH17. Just bold statements by the governments of Ukraine and its allies (plus some admissions by US officials that we know little). Given the long history of lies under such circumstances, only the gullible consider the question closed.
As usual, wild reports circulate. Such as this by Robert Parry (Editor) at Consortium News: “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts“, 3 August 2014. (Parry broke Iran-Contra stories for the AP and Newsweek; bio here).
Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.
He also repeats rumors that the wreckage shows bullet holes (US experts disagree). Note that some reports attribute this story, incorrectly, to the Associated Press (e.g., New Straits Times). What’s true? All we know is that initial reports are often wrong — mistaken or outright lies. All we have are questions, such as:
- Was the airliner flying on its original route, or was it diverted over the war zone? See stories by CBS News and The Telegraph; the NYT provides more maps of airliner routes through the area. The Times of India cites witnesses to the re-routing order. Malaysia Airlines denied the rumor that MH17 was diverted from a storm.
- Who had operating surface-to-air missiles capable of reaching MH17? The Ukraine military or the rebels, or (more probably) both? The BUK missiles commonly cited as the culprit are 16 feet long, too long to easily hide from US reconnaissance.
(4) What we know for certain
We know that governments often lie to justify starting wars. The American government especially so.
- Spain did not sink the USS Maine, but the story served to start the war.
- The 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident was almost fictitious, but served to start our war in Vietnam.
- Iraq didn’t have WMDs, but we invaded, occupied, and trashed Iraq anyway.
- The 9-11 Commission’s report debunked the Bush Administration’s story about why they invaded Afghanistan (e.g., the Taliban played only a minor role in 9-11; Bush invaded without attempting to negotiate with them).
We do not know the answer to the great mystery: why do we continue to believe uncritically what US government officials say, despite their long history of lies about matters of the highest importance? The internet does not seem to have made us less gullible or better informed. When we seriously ask ourselves this question, America will have taken a large step to reform.
(5) For More Information
Posts about the crisis in Ukraine:
- A warning from Germany about our new cold war: “The West on the wrong path”, 9 August 2014
- Let’s stop the 2-minute hate on Putin & think before we reignite the Cold War, 11 August 2014
- We can learn much from the tragedy of Flight MH17 – about ourselves, 12 August 2014
- Look at past airliner shootings so we can learn about government lies, 13 August 2014
An assortment of relevant posts:
- We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today, 15 April 2014
- The Ukraine anti-semitic flyer: a case study in propaganda, 21 April 2014
- Choose to follow those who were right about our wars, or those who were wrong, 17 June 2014
- Finding insights in the seas of information & misinformation, 24 June 2014
(6) Obama’s entry in a future Guinness Book of World Records
Most violent conflicts fought by a leader who carries the Nobel Peace Prize.