Along with being an tireless campaigner against official corruption and fraud in the United States up to the highest levels of government, bureaucratic and corporate life, amongst folks for whom things like this still matter, former WWII US Navy pilot Rod Stich is one of America's most highly respected commentators and researchers. He is also a former civil aviation accident investigator, and a prolific author on the subject of aviation disasters and the corruption, incompetence and criminal conspiracy that attends many of them.
Mr Stich is moreover someone with whom your correspondent has the privilege of being in contact with from time to time; this week I asked him for his thoughts on the MH17 disaster, and the following was his qualified response:
My thinking on that tragedy, based on information available to me is that the Russian dissidents in Ukraine accidentally shot down the airliner. [But] that Russia is complicit in having provided the missiles; launcher; training, etc., and is improperly subverting Ukraine. Of course, the United States politicians have been doing that constantly since the end of World War II. [My underlining].
We will come back to Mr Stich later regarding his comments above, but at this point, when it comes to reflecting on the MH17 disaster, what actually happened and who was responsible, many could be forgiven for thinking the tragedy is a one of a kind event. Of course in its own unique way it is, not the least for those most affected by this disaster, the victims and their families.
Yet despite the glibly aroused umbrage of many world leaders, politicians and assorted Russo-phobes over the human tragedy, they are likely to become soon-forgotten in what is shaping up to be one of the most significant geo-strategic dramas not purportedly involving Islamic jihadi terrorists since the Fall of the Wall. One might opine their tragedy is someone else's opportunity, not unlike those people killed on 9/11. Collateral damage one suspects. Or that America does not have enough terrorists on its dance card anymore and is looking to tout new business for the ideological 'centurions' of the Project for the New American Century and insatiable profiteers of the National Security State.
To be sure there have been many commercial aircraft brought down by military misadventure over the years. America itself was directly responsible for a not dissimilar incident when in 1988 the missile cruiser USS Vincennes accidentally shot down an Iranian passenger airliner killing all 290 people on board including 66 children. According to Crispin Black, in his recent column in the UK's The Week Magazine, America has never officially apologised for this incident. In fact the captain was never held to account, and remained in command of the ship until 1989, after which he was-wait for it-honourably discharged and decorated by George HW Bush with the Legion of Merit "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service". Go figure!
One thing that does make the MH17 event so 'unique' is the breathtaking hypocrisy exemplified by the degree of righteous hand wringing, opportunistic finger pointing and gasping, moral indignation levelled at Russia by the international community and the Western media. In fact Black himself made mention of this in his column with the following, "when these awful incidents happen from time to time what we do not need is for the political temperature to be increased by the likes of David Cameron -one of those rare politicians who seems to have immatured [sic] in office". Given our own PM Tony Abbott's response (of whom more later), we could say much the same about him as well, both of whom of course are towing the Washington line, so no news there then.
What was most striking about this event was the preparedness from the off of numerous world leaders and their media apparatchiks to immediately assume Russia's hands-on complicity in the downing of the plane and the death of 298 innocent people. It seems as if the West stopped only a tad short of accusing Russia of actually planning the attack, or at the very least would've been happy for that perception to prevail.
Not surprisingly, most of this response has come from the United States with back up as indicated from other countries such as Australia and Britain. Interestingly, the Netherlands-having lost the most people-was arguably the most dignified and reserved of all countries in their response. Methinks that says something about the Dutch that we, the British or the Americans, cannot say about ourselves. In these kinds of situations, the US in particular does a fine line in umbrage.
Even if we accept at this point that indeed the Russian separatists in the Ukraine were responsible for accidentally shooting down this plane-another point to which we will return shortly-and they had done it using Russian supplied materiel and weapons, the more sober amongst us might contemplate how a similar scenario would have played out had it involved a bunch of 'separatists' or 'freedom fighters' in another time and place who had been supported, armed and trained by the Americans. As Mr Stich's earlier comments indicate, this could well have been the case. The fact that it hasn't happened could hardly be attributed to good risk management upon the part of the US, this being the country that 'invented' the Law of Unintended Consequences (aka 'blowback').
Which is to say, given the official versus the unofficial history of US foreign policy, not excluding its well documented-if not well publicised or recorded in the history books-bloody, cynical saga of arming, funding, training and even protecting so-called 'freedom fighters', 'rebels', and 'separatists' of all sorts, shapes and colours in all corners of the Big Blue Ball, an MH17-type outcome was always an eminently plausible possibility not just throughout the Cold War period but beyond.
Before gaining an insight into this tragedy, and the response from the West to Russia and its 'proxy' war with the Ukraine, it is crucial for open-minded news consumers to understand the geopolitical backdrop driving the US's antagonism towards Russia. To say the emotive response is fuelled less by altruism and genuine sympathy for the victims and their families than by geopolitical expediency and maintaining hegemonic dominion in Europe is an understatement of heroic proportions.