MH17, again  

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Discussing the tragedy is inescapable. I had started doing this a few days ago, focusing mostly on Andrei Anghel, but didn’t have the time to say all that I wanted to say, which is why I’m continuing here.

oliver-stone-on-mhI do believe that the shootdown was a mistake but I think that whomever “pulled the trigger” the heavier moral responsibility rests with Czar Putin. Having already stated what I’m not interested in exploring conspiracy theories surrounding the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet, recently Oliver Stone, the director and producer of movies and documentaries such as Platoon, JFK (‘91), Natural Born Killers (mentioned in Nicoleta Munteanu, Femme Nikita and Google = DMV online), Nixon, Commandante, Alexander, Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, The Untold History of the United States (ep 10), made me waste a few minutes of my life. As an artist, he may be concerned with presenting an alternative viewpoint (who would want to watch government propaganda movies or documentaries?). As a Vietnam vet he may also be fully committed to preventing stupid wars and seeing opening other people’s eyes to government lies and conspiracies. I, however, herald from a different background and my hostility to Putin and what he stands for is far greater than my distrust of the American “way of life” marketing machine. I’m not going to bother discussing the “evidence” as Wikipedia, linked below, does a far better job at that.

While Deutsche Welle laments the penury of hard facts, we also learn that a Russian newspaper printed an article-apology with a title in Dutch, counterbalanced by Yekaterina Parkhomenko, who instagrammed herself wearing mascara found in the “field of death”. She has arrived, “you understand.” Much like DW, Bob Dreyfuss attempts a similar effort in The Nation, but again, that’s simply discarding the Russian rebels version and buying into the official US/Ukrainian version – I do believe the latter, but I’m not naive enough to ascribe any value to the “evidence” presented thus far.

Even the Economist joins this “opinions charlie-foxtrot” with several articles. But it does something to bridge the opinion rift between Eastern Europe (who have known Russian-imposed Stalinism for the better part of the previous century) and Western Europe (who have known Russian gas and propaganda and not much else).

The first article ends with a quasi-call to arms (ec-web).

Since the murders of the passengers of MH17 the responses have been almost as limp. The European Union is threatening far-reaching sanctions—but only if Mr Putin fails to co-operate with the investigation or he fails to stop the flow of arms to the separatists. France has said that it will withhold the delivery of a warship to Mr Putin if necessary, but is proceeding with the first of the two vessels on order. The Germans and Italians claim to want to keep diplomatic avenues open, partly because sanctions would undermine their commercial interests. Britain calls for sanctions, but it is reluctant to harm the City of London’s profitable Russian business. America is talking tough but has done nothing new.

Enough. The West should face the uncomfortable truth that Mr Putin’s Russia is fundamentally antagonistic. Bridge-building and resets will not persuade him to behave as a normal leader. The West should impose tough sanctions now, pursue his corrupt friends and throw him out of every international talking shop that relies on telling the truth. Anything else is appeasement—and an insult to the innocents on MH17.

The July 26th MH17 briefing attempts to bring more “evidence” to the fore (ec-briefieng).

Among the rebel rank and file, and in most places where news outlets are controlled by Russia, there is a widespread belief that MH17 was brought down by Ukrainian aircraft, perhaps as a way of eliciting further Western support by blaming Russia, perhaps because they mistook it for an aircraft carrying the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Local people in eastern Ukraine, used to seeing rebels with outdated weapons on the streets, don’t think them capable of bringing down an airliner. In the rest of the world, though, the evidence seems, if circumstantial, incontrovertible.

The Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens in the attack, including the eminent AIDS researcher Joep Lange, supported a toughened line; Italy, often an obstacle to tightening sanctions, made no attempt to block such moves. Several ministers spoke of a turning point in relations with Russia. The communiqué they issued said they would “accelerate the preparation of targeted measures” which had been agreed at an earlier summit, increasing the number of people and entities “materially or financially supporting” Russia’s policy of destabilising eastern Ukraine that will be subject to travel bans and the freezing of assets. The ministers said they would act by the end of the month.

Since late June small convoys of Russian heavy weapons had been flowing into the Luhansk region of Ukraine from a deployment and training site set up near Rostov by the separatists’ Russian military helpers, according to Western intelligence sources. On July 13th, at about the same time that Mr Putin was sitting down to watch the World Cup final with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, American sources say that a much bigger convoy of around 150 vehicles made the journey. It is said to have included tanks, artillery, Grad rocket launchers, armoured personnel carriers and Buk missile systems. Russia flatly denies having sent any such missiles.

That it was indeed a mistake is hard to doubt, not least because it clearly put Mr Putin on the defensive. In the days after the attack he threw himself into a frenzy of diplomatic and public activity, talking repeatedly to Mrs Merkel and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, as well as to the leaders of Australia, Britain and France. On July 21st he gave an address to the nation unremarkable in every way other than its timing; it was broadcast in the middle of the Moscow night, which means just before the previous evening’s prime time on America’s east coast. Having asked for concessions it did not receive, Russia still backed the Security Council’s resolution calling for a full investigation and for those responsible to be held to account, a resolution which accordingly passed unanimously. For all his anti-Westernism, Mr Putin cares about his international image enough to want to avoid defeat.

He cares even more about his power at home. The Russian people are keen on both the war in Ukraine and Mr Putin: his approval rating is a remarkable 83%. Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin consultant, wrote recently that Russians see the war as a “bloody, tense and emotionally engaging” television drama that has little to do with reality but which they want to see continue. Mr Putin prospers as the drama’s producer and leading man; he cannot rewind the narrative in such a way as to extricate himself.

One explanation for the lack of change could be that Mr Putin does not believe that Europe will act decisively. The evidence of history seems to be on his side. Though on July 22nd the council of ministers sent a stronger message than it had before, Europe retains a deep ambivalence about inflicting real economic pain on Russia. In a newspaper article on July 20th David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, told fellow European leaders: “It is time to make our power, influence and resources count. Our economies are strong and growing in strength. And yet we sometimes behave as if we need Russia more than Russia needs us…” They—including Britain, fearful of damage to the City of London—could well continue so to behave.

The most obvious evidence of this is France’s determination to go through with the sale of the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia. Other nations have demanded the contract be halted, but President François Hollande fears that reneging would endanger shipbuilding jobs at the Saint-Nazaire dockyard, incur stiff financial penalties, leave France with expensive ships it has no use for and damage its reputation for dependability among other countries thinking about entering into arms contracts with it.

Mr Hollande this week tried to deflect the pressure by saying that while the Vladivostokwould be delivered this autumn as agreed, delivery of the second such ship—theSevastopol, ironically—it is building for Russia would depend on Mr Putin’s good behaviour. Meanwhile the head of his Socialist party, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, hit back at British criticism of the deal, noting that many Russian oligarchs had “sought refuge in London”, and added: “this is a false debate led by hypocrites.” France is demanding that, in any phase-three sanctions, Britain act on Russian financial transfers through the City. Germany for its part would be expected to contribute by restricting Russia’s access to high technology, especially in the energy sector.

The third article, ec-dutch, deals with the Dutch reaction.

JULY 23rd was a day of national mourning in the Netherlands, the first since the death of Queen Wilhelmina more than 50 years ago.

The Dutch lost 193 of their fellow citizens on MH17. As a share of the Netherlands’ population that is greater than America’s loss in the attacks of September 11th. All the bodies, Dutch and otherwise, that have so far been taken by train from the crash site to Kharkiv will have been transferred to a medical facility in Hilversum by July 25th. It will take weeks, if not months to identify them. An unknown number, perhaps as many as 100, remain unrecovered.

The fourth and final article considered here has to do with the American hawkishness and Dutch pragmatism (ec-wakeup).

BACK in March, when Barack Obama visited The Hague and called on Europe to treat Russian intervention in Ukraine as a threat to the international order, he got a pretty sceptical response. Like most of Europe, the Netherlands went along half-heartedly with efforts to impose retaliatory sanctions on Moscow, and among the Dutch public there was a tendency to treat the Ukrainian conflict as an ethnolinguistic clash or a Russian-American power contest.

The "international order" is a hard thing to visualise, and there was little support in the Dutch political sphere for dramatic steps to punish Russia for violating Ukrainian sovereignty—not if such steps might cost Dutch companies a lot of money. It was an uphill struggle to persuade the citizens of a rich, safe country in the heart of western Europe that their security was threatened by trouble at Europe’s periphery, and that it was up to them to resist the advance of Vladimir Putin’s weird hybrid of authoritarian nationalism and mafia rule.

These different responses in part reflect Dutch commercial interests in Russia, such as Shell's huge investments in Siberian oil fields, as Thomas Erdbrink reports in the New York Times. The Netherlands is also one of the world's premiere hubs for shell companies created for tax avoidance, which Russians have made liberal use of. As the Dutch investigative website Follow The Money reports, these Dutch-registered Russian holding companies have made the Netherlands, on paper, the world's second-largest investor in Russia. (Another Dutch website noted that the Russian defence conglomerate Rostec, which most likely built the missile that shot down flight MH17, operates several shell companies headquartered in Amsterdam.) Dutch political attitudes are often described as a seesaw between de dominee en de koopman, or "the preacher and the merchant": at times the Netherlands adopts a moralistic tone towards the rest of the world, other times its interests are purely businesslike. For at least the past decade the merchant has had the upper hand.

But the different responses also reflect the two countries' different instinctive attitudes to international aggression. The Netherlands, a small country caught between larger European powers, has learned to be conciliatory and diplomatic. America, a superpower with no unfriendly borders, sees itself as the global champion of liberal democracy and the guarantor of the international order. America is quick to turn international conflicts into moral crusades, and to exploit those crusades for political advantage and greater geopolitical power. And, for all its flaws, the fact remains that America still is the global champion of liberal democracy and the guarantor of the international order. No one else is available to do the job.

These different attitudes towards international crises are striking in part because, in other ways, America and the Netherlands share a tremendous store of values. Both countries are dedicated to religious freedom, liberal democracy, the rule of law, free enterprise, a strong participatory civil society, economic fairness, multiethnic equality and a rule-bound international order. This is the sort of flattering blather one expects to hear in an ambassador's speech, but in the case of the Netherlands it happens to be true. Holland, like America, is a nation constituted by a set of liberal Enlightenment ideals.

As Olaf Koens, a Russia correspondent for the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, puts it:

[W]e pretended nothing serious was happening in Russia—a masterpiece of ostrich policy toward the outside world. As long as we keep appearances, do business as usual, watch sales rise, let ships dock in the harbor of Rotterdam, and allow criminal regimes to use our nifty tax-constructions, all would be fine.

When Ukrainians went out into the streets last year and overthrew their corrupt president, this is what they were demanding: to live in a "normal country", a law-governed democracy that belongs to that international order. At the time, many Dutch and Americans didn't understand why they needed to make sacrifices to help them. Now, perhaps, they do.

As it should be obvious from the previous article on the MH17 tragedy as well as the above, other nations have much greater losses to mourn w.r.t. this unfortunate incident, but this blog focuses on Romanian issues through Toronto lenses. We will be forgiven thus if we continue to quote from the material linked in the previous article but which did not make it the actual body of the article.

After seeing how the victims are treated in the international press, it is rather strange reading how “Stiri de Cluj”, a news source from the city where Andrei Anghel, his girlfriend, as well as Jay Abdo and many other foreign students go to med school, chose to criticize his surviving family in a backhanded manner ("the family requested discretion only in Romania but has been talking to the Canadian mass-media").

discretie-numai-in-romaniaFamilia studentului Andrei Anghel a cerut MAE discreție în privința datelor după accidentul aviatic din Ucraina, dar a vorbit pe larg cu presa din Canada.

Anunțul privind discreția a fost făcut de MAE, care a precizat că aceasta este cererea familiei.

S-a ajuns atât de departe încât, la comemorarea care a avut loc vineri seara, în curtea UMF Cluj, de pe strada Marinescu, de lângă campusul Hașdeu, colegii victimelor au strâns fotografiile cu cei doi pe care le-au adus în semn de omagiu pentru ca ”presa să nu cumva să le vadă”.

umf-dezinformatFamilia lui Andrei Anghel nu s-a ferit, însă, să ofere interviuri în presa din Canada.

Tatăl tânărului, Sorin Anghel, a declarat că acesta și iubita lui și-au planificat excursia în Bali de câteva luni. Andrei Anghel și Olga Ioppa erau iubiți și s-au cunoscut la Cluj. ”Am locuit acolo 30 de ani și când am revenit acasă mi-a arătat locuri pe care nu știam că există. Ne-am simțit foarte bine împreună. Bunica lui l-a inspirat să devină medic, care este pediatru”, a spus Sorin Anghel, tatăl tânărului.

The reticence of the family is justified by comments to this very article (i.e., “soy salami” mentality).

19-7-2014, 13:07  - 4289 vizualizări - 3 comentarii

fatarnici-si-tradatorifatarnici 19-7-2014, 13:36

Toti pleaca din Romania i-si iau diferite cetatenii si dupa aceea le este rusine de Romania cu toate ca se folosesc la greu de ea vin sa faca facultati si tot felul de afaceri pe spatele poporului dar se rusineaza vazi doamne ca ei nu mai sunt romani dar pastreaza cetatenia romana.Tradatorii acestia pana cand ai mai suportam fac toate pe spatele poporului roman greu in cercat daca iti ESTE RUSINE CA ESTI ROMAN DE CE MAI VU IN ROMANIA.

iarta-i Doamne si pe acei ce scriu prostii 19-7-2014, 18:32

sunt sigura ca nu a facut carte pe gratis. asa ca poti sa stai linistit/a, nu te-a calarit nimeni

@fatarnici19-7-2014, 21:17

sa s*** p_la cu ma-ta gunoiule .... ti-au furat vreun leu din buzunar cei doi ? sa te f** in gura de roman sadea!

I guess Latin is tough for some “journalists” as well as “green” Romanians: de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

And this is perhaps the best illustration of my bias (and probably not only mine): there’s a ceasefire in the Central African Republic and another one in Gaza, but I care more about the one Romanian’s death in a plane full of mostly Dutch and Aussie people, at least on this blog.

Sources / More info: Wikipedia, imdb-stone, dw-sofar, tlg-parkhomenko, nation-what, ec-web, ec-briefing, ec-wakeup, ec-dutch

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Sunday, July 27, 2014 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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