Malaysian Plane Downing
Heightens War Danger
by Jeffrey Steinberg
July 22—While it may take days or even weeks to reach a competent forensic determination of the cause of the crash of the Malaysian commercial airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine July 17, the cries for a confrontation with Russia are growing louder, led by President Obama and his top aides, including American UN Ambassador Samantha Power. As far as Obama and the U.S. establishment media are concerned, the byword is: “Don’t confuse me with facts—my mind is made up.” In this case, the determination is that Russian President Vladimir Putin was either directly or indirectly responsible for the incident, and Russia is to pay a heavy price.
Washington’s snap judgment was matched July 21 by British Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in the London Times, who declared Putin guilty of shooting down the airliner, and demanded that Europe break decisively with Russia.
While the war cry from London, Washington, and the Netherlands, in particular, continues, the United Nations Security Council on July 21 was able to agree on a resolution mandating an international, independent investigation of the jet crash. Among other points, the text demands that “the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities.”
In fact, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) monitors declared on July 20 that they had been given full access to the main crash site. On July 21, before the UN resolution, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that he had reached an agreement with the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, whereby Malaysia would receive the remains of 282 people, which had been recovered and refrigerated by the militias, and would be given the two “black boxes” which the militias had taken custody of, in fear that they would be tampered with, if handed over to the Kiev authorities.
An official Pentagon statement—issued the same day as a phone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov which appeared to agree on an impartial investigation—identified a Russian-made Buk/SA-11 missile as the weapon used in the downing, but offered no evidence as to who carried out the attack.
In contrast, the Russian Ministry of Defense on July 19 issued a statement, spelling out ten crucial unanswered questions, directed at Ukrainian authorities, over whose territory MH17 was flying at the time of the attack (see below).
On Sunday, July 20, Secretary of State Kerry appeared on a number of TV programs to bolster Obama’s own “blame Putin” rhetoric. Kerry’s appearance, reminiscent of Dr. Susan Rice’s now infamous TV appearances days after the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, claiming they were the result of spontaneous demonstrations against an anti-Islam video, repeated the claims that the Russians had delivered SA-11 anti-aircraft batteries to rebels in eastern Ukraine and had trained them on the use of the sophisticated weapons. News leaks also claimed that CIA agents in Kiev had authenticated an alleged intercepted phone call between Ukrainian rebels and Russian military personnel right after the plane crash, taking credit for the incident.
‘A Doctor Strangelove Situation’
Some sane voices in the U.S. and around the world have warned that the escalating rhetoric threatens to trigger a great powers war. Col. Patrick Lang (ret.), former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence division, posted a blunt warning on his widely read website on July 19: “The Yellow Media are creating a Doctor Strangelove situation. They do not seem to grasp the idea that the war between Russia and the U.S.A. toward which they are groping will destroy both countries altogether. Once more, a war between the U.S.A. and Russia will destroy both countries and much of the rest of the world.”
The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders have all called for an “objective probe” of the Malaysian Airlines disaster in Ukraine that, if carried out, would help to avoid the war that Lang is warning against. “I was shocked,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at a joint press conference with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
“I hope that a fair and objective probe will be carried out to establish the truth as early as possible.”
In a separate statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hopes “the circumstances of the disaster are established quickly.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has also urged a speedy investigation into the terrible tragedy. “First, it should be established what really happened. The Brazilian government will give no assessments until the circumstances are clear,” she said. Rousseff was echoed by South African President Jacob Zuma, who also called for a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation to determine the cause of the incident.
Greatly adding to the danger, is that the Malaysian plane tragedy does not take place in a vacuum. President Obama, just days before the crash, announced harsh new sanctions against Russia—despite the fact that the European Union did not go along with Washington and London’s demands. NATO has announced an expansion of manuevers in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe on the Russian borders.
What is completely missing from the Washington and London rhetoric is any effort to determine cui bono—who would benefit from such a brutal act of terrorism. From that standpoint, Russia stands to lose the most as the result of the tragedy.
Furthermore, the downing of the MH17 came at the conclusion of the world-changing BRICS Summit in Brazil, where the five nations agreed to establish a New Development Bank and a fund to protect against currency warfare (see this week’s Feature). These new institutions, while not formally replacing the IMF and World Bank, offer a clear alternative to the brutal conditionalities and debt blackmail of the “Washington consensus” system. They come at a time when even the Bank for International Settlements has been warning about an imminent debt blowout of the major trans-Atlantic banks as the result of their out-of-control gambling activities. In the second quarter of the year, derivatives contracts expanded by an annual rate of 19%, with total global derivatives estimated at over $1.7 quadrillion.
Mervyn King, the former head of the Bank of England, recently noted that the biggest financial crash of the 20th Century took place in the Spring-Summer of 1914, and led directly into the Guns of August start of World War I. The parallels between then and now, exactly 100 years later, are stark. The major difference is that the great powers of 1914 did not have overkill arsenals of thermonuclear weapons, as the United States, Russia, and China have today.