Almost 300 people have been killed in the most awful circumstances and though it is self-evident that a full and thorough investigation must follow to find out what happened its conclusions will be scant comfort to the families and loved ones of those who perished. That said, the mind boggles that a civilian passenger aircraft should be flying anywhere near a war zone, especially one in which fighter jets, military aircraft, and military transport aircraft are playing such a key role in hostilities.
The alacrity with which Washington and its allies have sought to exploit this tragedy to attack Russia has been as unedifying as it has been despicable. If it turns out that the aircraft was downed by a missile, and as yet no one knows for certain how this disaster occurred, it is highly likely to have been an accident and there is something to be said for understanding the conditions in which such a tragic event has taken place.
What we do know for certain at this point is that the conflict which has been raging in eastern Ukraine over the past few months, and which has intensified since the election of Petro Poroshenko as President of western Ukraine in May, was sparked by the toppling of the last legitimate democratically elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovich by an armed mob in Kiev in February, in which avowed neo-Nazis played a key role. Some of those neo-Nazis currently occupy ministerial offices in the regime led by Mr. Poroshenko and are prevalent in the violence that has been visited on the people in the east of the country, who have risen up in resistance to Kiev and its sponsors in the West.
The need for a political solution to this conflict is glaringly clear, and has been for some time. The Russian government has been calling for a de-escalation of hostilities since the ill-fated Geneva peace conference back in April, and if anything has shown remarkable restraint in holding back from mounting a military intervention in response to the Poroshenko regime’s brutal military assault on Ukrainian citizens across its western border with tanks, artillery, fighter jets, and attack helicopters.
Sadly, though, when it comes to the US and its allies, restraint in case of war and conflict is anathema. Indeed, the very word has been stricken from the dictionary where they are concerned. Consequently, Russia’s restraint has been taken for weakness, evidenced in a ramping up of the conflict by Poroshenko over the past few weeks.
The recent signing of the Association Agreement between the EU and the regime in Kiev has brought the EU into disrepute. Just think about this for a moment: the EU has just entered a state into its ranks bathed in the blood of its own citizens.
There is another very important aspect to the continuing fallout from the Malaysian airliner disaster that helps us understand the level of anti-Russian vitriol and propaganda it has sparked. Vladimir Putin has just enjoyed a successful trip to South America. There he played a key role in the establishment of a new development bank to rival the dominance of the US and European-led World Bank. With a capital base of $100bn this new institution will provide developing economies with alternative funding without the punishing conditions and exploitative strings attached to funding obtained from the World Bank and its affiliate the International Finance Corporation.
This is a massive step forward for the developing world, turning a new page in the continuing struggle to forge a multipolar alternative to the status quo of Washington’s and the West’s unipolarity, which has retarded the development of the Global South since the Second World War.
There is also the no small matter, as far as the West is concerned, of the Russian President’s visit to Cuba and the forging of closer relations with its former Cold War ally. Again, this will have undoubtedly resulted in the gnashing of teeth in Washington, further evidence of the challenge that is being mounted to its hegemony in what it considers its own backyard.
Furthermore, the stridency when it comes to the tragic deaths of the 298 people on the Malaysian airliner has been significantly absent when it comes to the comparable number of civilians slaughtered in Gaza as a result of Israel’s ongoing brutal military assault. The hypocrisy here is striking, if not surprising. For many years Washington and its European allies have provided political cover for Israel’s war crimes vis-à-vis the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors. They are in no position to lecture anyone on the sanctity of human life.
The pressure being brought to bear against Russia, exploiting this tragedy as a pretext, should not blind us to the role of the West in fomenting and prolonging military conflicts around the world for their own geopolitical interests. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine; their crimes would shame all the devils in hell.
Only when Washington and its allies understand that their days of uncontested hegemony and unipolarity are over will there be a chance for a new global framework in which respect for national sovereignty and international law is returned to prominence and upheld as the non-negotiable arbiter of international affairs and foreign policy. The alternative is more conflict and more of the chaos we are witnessing today.