Friday, July 25, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: Different Reactions

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 upset me a lot since I come from Holland, and 192 of the 298 dead were Dutch. I have been e-mailing with people who knew several of the victims. The Netherlands is a small country. Proportionally, this death toll exceeds the 3000 Americans who died on 9/11. What a tragedy! Holland deserves our tears and our support. It is one of the most wonderful, progressive, talented, cultured, generous, tolerant and peace-loving countries on earth. I have often said that if the world were more like the Netherlands, it would be a much better place.

On this side of the Atlantic, there seems to be agreement as to who the bad guys are. They are the Russian-supported rebels who want to separate from Ukraine, along with Russia itself and Vladimir Putin. It seems that way, from most of what one reads in the MSM (mainstream media). It’s not just the Fox News warmongers, always salivating at the prospect of renewing the Cold War. I tend to trust most of what is written in the New York Times, so when I read about the circumstantial but pretty convincing evidence that the plane was shot down by the rebels using a Russian SAM (a “Buk”), assisted by Russians, I tend to accept this.

Also, the pro-Russia arguments are shrill and often preposterous. They call the current Ukrainian regime “fascist,” and the product of a coup d’etat. One theory floating around the Russian state-controlled media is that it was actually the Ukrainian military which shot down the plane, as it was trying to kill Vladimir Putin flying back from overseas. This theory reminds me of the one pinning the 9/11 attack on the Mossad.

But what do I know? There are usually several sides to a story. Maybe I am brainwashed, too. After all, Russia has good cause for its generally defensive attitude. For example, NATO was expanded to its doorsteps, and it now includes a dozen countries which formerly belonged to Russia’s sphere of influence.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, the long-term solution is obvious: Finlandize it. Let it become a neutral country, just like Finland after World War Two. But don’t hold your breath. Reasonable solutions are the last ones government
s opt for.

A rare example of an American source that tries to see the situation from both sides is Robert Parry’s article “What did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?” Parry, at least, does not take the knee-jerk anti-Russian stance found in the overwhelming majority of American media and public opinion.

But as I said, I tend to accept that consensus. Sometimes, there is only one side to a story. Hitler, the Holocaust, AIDS, rape, etc.

You don’t have to agree with the Fox militarists and the likes of John McCain, always itching for a fight, always advocating American military intervention. Still, Putin apologists like Robert Parry go too far. There does seem to be pretty strong evidence of Russian and separatist culpability.

But my main point today is NOT to sort out who is to blame. Instead, I want to compare the REACTIONS to this tragedy, the ones in this country and those in Europe, especially in the most victimized country -  Holland. I have been in touch with several people over there. The main difference between their reactions and ours is that, unlike most Americans, they are reluctant to play the blame game. In the Netherlands, there is enormous sorrow. July 23 was a day of national mourning. But it was not a day of anger and finger-pointing.

A father who lost a daughter was interviewed. He said, tearfully, that mutual accusations were not helpful.

Some people blame KLM. They blame the Dutch national airline because it coshared the Malaysia Airlines flight. Some believe that the fault lies with the Ukrainian government, which may have been trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin.

But as I said, what is most striking is the ABSENCE of accusations, the absence of outrage and anger.

The Europeans are still reluctant to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia, as president Obama wants to. This is obviously explained by their dependence on Russian gas. To what extent different countries around the world support economic warfare against Russia is best explained by each country’s economic interests. As always, the bottom line is $$$$, not human lives. The same can be said about airlines’ decision to fly over combat airspace in order to save fuel dollars.

So the different reactions reflect (1) cultural differences and (2) the state of the world’s media:

(1) You could say that when tragedy strikes, Europeans are more into crying, whereas Americans are more into anger and fighting (often against the wrong guy, like Iraq after 9/11).

(2) The media do not report facts. Instead, they take sides. So you and I believe the things we read in American papers, and the Europeans believe what they read over there. Both sides are brainwashed... Meanwhile, almost two hundred innocent Dutchmen are dead. My personal reaction? Crying is good, but some anger might also help...

 © Tom Kando 2014

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