In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can’t accept its geopolitical decadence – and that’s why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that’s where the whole “policy” that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground. In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia. - Pepe Escobar reporting
China blasts “one-sided Western rush to judge Russia” over MH17
Tyler Durden Zero Hedge USA July 21, 2014
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The West has successfully put itself in a position to dictate ‘political correctness’ in international discourse,” China exclaims via a Global Times editorial on MH17 on Monday, “those unwilling to work with Western interests will often find themselves in a tough position.” China’s first public statement that “The Western rush to judge Russia is not based on evidence or logic,” comes on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s address last night jabbing the West “no one should not have the right to use this tragedy to achieve selfish political objectives.” China appears to have crossed the line, siding very clearly with Russia as they conclude, “It is yet another example of the power of Western opinion as a political tool.”
China may soon have to reconcile this foreign-policy quandary. “It will bring about a severe challenge to China’s general strategy and diplomacy if America and Europe propose sanctions against Russia and demand China should join with them,” wrote Chinese security analyst Gao Feng in a widely disseminated blog post. “For China, the issue is which side it should choose. Without doubt, an ambiguous stance [by Beijing] will face criticism and moral pressure.”
Below: No credible version of events points to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine as intentional mass murder or terrorism, and with international experts now getting access to the black box, there seems to be little the Atlanticist Brigade can use to point the finger at Moscow. Still, expect sanctions on Russia to follow, and for the reverberations to reach east all the way to China. Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.
The charge of the Atlanticist Brigade
Peter Lee Asia Times Online Hong Kong July 22, 2014
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The bloody farce in the Ukraine took another ugly turn with the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
And to be ugly about it, if the rebels shot the plane down, it shouldn’t matter very much except as a horrible and unexpected catastrophe in a war zone and an overwhelming tragedy to the survivors of the victims on board. Call it an accident, collateral damage, manslaughter, there is no credible version of events in which it was intentional mass murder or terrorism, either by the rebels or Russian technicians that, according to the Ukrainian government, possessed the ability to operate the elderly but complex anti-aircraft systems fingered in the attack.
Recall the US shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 by the USS Vincennes. It was also an ugly business. The Iran Air jet was on a standard civilian flight path with its transponders on; the Vincennes through some bit of naval derring-do had actually intruded into Iranian territorial waters when it shot the plane down (something that was only admitted by the US three years later); 290 people died. The US never apologized, but eventually paid out some money to smooth things over, not in a particularly classy way, according to a 2002 account:
The US had compensated non-Iranian victims about US$2.9 million (not acknowledging any responsibility) but nothing to Iranian family members. In 1996, a $131.8 million settlement was reached that included the ignored families ($61.8 million). Seventy million was to be put into bank accounts and used to “pay off private US claims against Iran and Iran’s expenses for the Iran-US Claims Tribunal, which is handling the claims.” The US stated it was for claims “involving banking matters, not the airliner,” while Iran said that 30 million was for the plane.
The shootdown was accompanied by the usual quotient of dishonest denial and blame shifting. …
The Iran Air shootdown was classified as a goof – although the Iranians declared it rose to the level of criminal misconduct (and have been accused of engineering the Lockerbie bombing as retaliation) – and the captain of the Vincennes was condemned by his fellow officers as a reckless dingbat….
Captain Rogers was not officially censured for the shootdown; instead, two years later he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his services while captain of the Vincennes and soon after retired.
There you have it.
So, by the ordinary standards of murderous military ineptitude, the fallout from the MH17 tragedy would be disorganization and denial, an exhaustive and time-consuming investigation, a belated acknowledgment of responsibility, no legal consequences, and the application of some financial emollient eight or so years down the road.
This is obviously Putin’s goal, whether or not rebel forces were complicit (which I should say is not yet a slam dunk, despite the declarations of the US government), an objective which the US and many of its allies are determined to deny him.
There have been several attempts to frame the accidental shootdown as an episode of Putin barbarism that places him and his government beyond the civilized pale and in the fatal zone of illegitimate pariah state upon whom demands can be made, and whose calls for due process can be swept aside, and fair game for whatever principled skullduggery the democratic powers can concoct.
My sense of the situation, especially from the Asian perspective, is that the US is in danger of overplaying its hand, indeed that it has a bad case of tunnel vision in which it is fixated on the goal of sticking it to Putin at the expense of US global interests.
With its almost comical insistence that “the world” is uniting against Russia (which only counts if “the world” is defined as the Atlantic democracies and their close allies and China, India, et al are excluded) and, even more damagingly, the US insistence on peddling the Russia = the world’s greatest monster story even as the United States condones the catastrophic and much more bloody Israel incursion into Gaza, the US is accelerating the natural trend toward disintermediation of America in significant chunks of the global diplomatic and economic system.
The PRC occasionally comes in for mockery for its alleged hubris in wishing to elevate the yuan to the status of an international currency. However, I don’t think the PRC’s near term objective, or even desire, is to assume the glorious but extremely onerous burden of displacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency.
Instead, I think there are tactical as well as strategic forces in play, inspired in part by Russia’s sanctions miseries as well as the PRC’s own experiences with covert as well as overt US financial sanctions relating to China’s Iran and North Korea transactions, which date back to the George W Bush years. The PRC approach reflects the difficulty of sustaining strict capital controls on a national currency when China’s economy is increasingly open to the world; and the risk that a more freely trading Chinese currency can bring to the PRC in its current competition and incipient clash with the United States.
So one consequence of the singleminded US campaign against Russia is that it is being driven into the arms of the PRC; another is that the PRC is making its ability to resist sanctions a national priority. The US Atlanticists may succeed in either subduing Russia to Western tutelage or simply expelling it from the European sphere; but what about the Pacific?
Below: The MH17 tragedy may have been a horrendous mistake, but it may also have been a desperate gambit by the Kiev minions of the Empire of Chaos. Washington has been quick off the blocks to ignite and in theory win the spin war to persuade the world that Russia’s hand was wittingly or otherwise behind the downing of the civilian aircraft. Moscow, more rationally, is seeking the facts first, before pointing fingers of blame.
A chessboard drenched in blood
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong July 23, 2014
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“The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Everyone remembers the Downing Street Memo, which unveiled the Bush/Blair “policy” in the run-up to the 2003 bombing/invasion/occupation of Iraq. The “policy” was to get rid of Saddam Hussein via a lightning war. The justification was “terrorism” and (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which had “disappeared”, mounted in trucks, deep into Syria. Forget about intelligence and facts.
The tragedy of MH17 – turned, incidentally, into a WMD – might be seen as a warped rerun of imperial policy in Iraq. No need for a memo this time. The “policy” of the Empire of Chaos is clear, and multi-pronged; diversify the “pivot to Asia” by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine to sabotage trade between Europe and Russia; expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine; break the Russia-China strategic partnership; prevent by all means the trade/economic integration of Eurasia, from the Russia-Germany partnership to the New Silk Roads converging from China to the Ruhr; keep Europe under US hegemony.
The key reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin did not “invade” Eastern Ukraine – as much as he’s been enticed to by Washington/NATO – to stop a US military adviser-facilitated running slaughter of civilians is that he does not want to antagonize the European Union, Russia’s top trading partner.
Crucially, Washington’s intervention in Kosovo invoking R2P – Responsibility to Protect – was justified at the time for exactly the same reasons a Russian intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk could be totally justified now. Except that Moscow won’t do it – because the Kremlin is playing a very long game.
The MH17 tragedy may have been a horrendous mistake. But it may also have been a desperate gambit by the Kiev minions of the Empire of Chaos. By now, Russian intel may have already mastered the key facts. Washington’s predictable modus operandi was to shoot from the hip, igniting and in theory winning the spin war, and doubling down by releasing the proverbial army of “top officials” brimming with social media evidence. Moscow will take time to build a meticulous case, and only then lay it out in detail.
As much as Bashar al-Assad in Syria had absolutely no motive to “gas his own people” – as the hysterical narrative went at the time – the Eastern Ukraine federalists have no motive to down a civilian airliner. And as much as Washington doesn’t give a damn about the current civilian slaughter in Gaza, it doesn’t give a damn about the MH17 civilian deaths; the one and only obsession is to force Europeans to sanction Russia to death. Translation: break up Europe-Russia commercial and geopolitical integration.
One week before the MH17 tragedy, the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies was already sounding the alarm concerning the Empire of Chaos’s “policy” and its refusal to “adhere to the principles and norms of international law and the rules and spirit of the existing system of international relations”.
Moscow, in building its case on the MH17 tragedy, will bide its time to debunk Kiev’s claims and maximize its own credibility. The game now moves to the black boxes and the cockpit voice recorder. Still Ukraine will remain the do or die battlefield – a chessboard drenched in blood.
Below: A tale of three aircraft tragedies. Author Brian Cloughley lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.
Russia bashing: Hatred, hysteria and humbug
Brian Cloughley CounterPunch USA July 25-27, 2014
“A civilian jet airliner shot down by US Navy surface to air missiles on 3 July 1988 as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz at the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, it was destroyed by the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished.”
The captain of the ship that killed 290 innocent people was given a high military decoration by the United States of America “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during his period in command.
The following report about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 sums up the attitude of the great majority of the west’s media and political administrations to the disaster in Ukraine. It is from a British newspaper that I used to respect, the Independent, which announced that “The 192 bodies found after the Flight MH17 plane crash have been bundled into black body bags and unceremoniously loaded into large refrigerated train cars, bound, it is understood, for the rebel heartland.” The paper didn’t have a reporter anywhere near the place, and shifted its shaky ground a bit when stating that “the bodies were reportedly moved by Ukraine’s emergency services who were working for the rebels under duress on Sunday.” It had to inject that “under duress” bit, but couldn’t avoid admitting that experts from official Ukrainian emergency services were involved.
If the bodies had been dealt with in the way the Independent claimed then of course there would be reason for disgust and condemnation. But it didn’t happen that way. The bodies were not “bundled” into body bags, nor were they “unceremoniously” loaded into the refrigerated wagons. But lots of media outlets followed the same propaganda line. The UK Daily Mail, which is admittedly a joke of a newspaper, screamed that “pro-Russian rebels left the victims’ bodies to decay for several days in body bags dumped around the crash site before eventually allowing them to be taken by train to Kharkiv airport.” Absolute rubbish.
According to Euronews, to which (with Al Jazeera, AFP, AP, Reuters and the BBC) I increasingly have recourse in order to obtain unbiased accounts of world affairs, it wasn’t like that at all. It reported that “the Ukrainian government announced that it had reached an agreement on the removal of bodies with representatives of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, the pro-Russian rebels who control the territory around the crash site” and that “International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) inspected the train before it departed. The train was made up of refrigerated wagons to preserve the remains of the victims.” The BBC recorded that “the remains . . . have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons,” and that “Dutch experts examined some of the 196 bodies kept in refrigerator wagons in Torez, some 15 km away from the crash site. ‘I think the storage of the bodies is of good quality,’ team leader Peter van Leit said after the inspection.” There was no drama about these reports — because there was no drama.
But it’s essential for the US-dominated west to manufacture anti-Russian fantasies, and the Independent (and other hate-Putin fraternities) recounted that there were “reports from the crash site of the rebels blocking investigations and even allowing the bodies to be looted.” There were no verified first-hand reports of any such thing, of course, but then there was a bit of embarrassment when a western reporter at the crash site, a particularly nauseating little fragment of filth called Colin Brazier, of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, was shown on camera removing personal items from the luggage of a dead passenger. (Why does Murdoch come in to almost everything that is slimy and disgusting?)
The ghoulish manufactured reportage about the aircraft’s flight recorders was another example of western media hysteria. The headlines fairly shrieked propaganda nonsense such as “Flight’s Black Box ‘Found and En Route’ to Moscow for Investigation.” But of course the two recorders were not on the way to Russia. They were found and handed over to officials of Malaysia Airlines, as was right and proper. No western reporter checked out the original story in spite of its being denied by the Russian government. Why should they? — They had got the headlines, and people believed their lies. The rebels handed over the recorders to Malaysia Airlines simply because they didn’t trust the Ukrainians not to interfere with them. But this wasn’t the sort of news that is acceptable to Russia-bashers.
There was even more hysteria whipped up by the media which shrieked that it had taken far too long to collect the bodies — four days — and that this was absolutely scandalous. Does anyone remember the bombing of Pan American Airways flight 103 in 1988? The plane exploded and fell out of the sky onto Lockerbie in southern Scotland, killing 259 people. As the Guardian newspaper later reported “Search teams would comb through much of the 2,190 square kilometres of the county with the help of helicopters, airplanes and even spy satellites. But they would be unable to locate the bodies of seven of the passengers, as well as about 10 per cent of the plane. And in some cases they may have arrived too late: 10 years after the catastrophe, the chief pathologist reported that two of the passengers had suffered serious but not fatal wounds. Possibly they froze to death on the ground before the search teams found them in a forest four days later.” Four days later. There was no media frenzy about that four day gap. Why was there media mania about the four days taken to find the MH17 bodies? — Because there is a well-orchestrated campaign of vindictive anti-Russian propaganda.
Why should we believe John Kerry’s rabble-rousing proclamations about anything to do with the stricken MH17? Where is his proof?
Sure, many of the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine are vicious horrible people. Their cause might be reasonable but some of their actions are barbaric. Many are former members of the Ukraine army. They are the Taliban of Ukraine’s tribal areas. But their political leader Alexander Borodai said they had moved the bodies “out of respect for the families” because “we couldn’t wait any longer because of the heat and also because there are many dogs and wild animals in the zone.” That is an entirely practical reason, and would any of the ignorant and spiteful western critics have acted differently in such circumstances?
Borodai denies that the rebels shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight, but of course he would, wouldn’t he? Just as the government of Ukraine denies having done it.
There was no attempt to find bodies after Iran Air 655 smashed into the waters of the Persian Gulf. There were no toothbrushes to be brandished by the squalid morbid media — and nor was there an independent inquiry. The captain of the ship that killed 290 innocent people was given a high military decoration by the United States of America “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” during his period in command.
It’s OK for the US to shoot down an Iranian airliner and kill 290 people — there’s never been an apology to the Iranian people for that war crime — but when there’s an opportunity to claim, to shriek, to propagandise at cyclone-level, that a disaster has occurred in which there just might be the tiniest chance to blame Russia, then there is clamour for investigation.
Of course there must be an investigation. And let it take into account exactly where Washington stood in regard to the first rebellion in Ukraine, against the elected government, and precisely what it did to foment it. Let the whole gutter-gobbing sleazy tale be told. Let the culprits who killed the 298 innocent people on board MH17 be brought to justice. But without anti-Russian hysteria. Or western humbug. The hatred, of course, will remain.