Posted tagged ‘malaysian airlines’

Slow Boil Over A Surrogate War

July 20, 2014

The downing of Malaysian Air flight 17 was a shock. As time as progressed, the justification of the senseless murders of almost 300 people is no less murky.  Our madness slow boil seems centered upon a surrogate war.

Was this simply an accident of war or was the missile attack part of a premeditated message? The 300 unlucky passengers had nothing to do with either side in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Malaysian Airlines is based in Kuala Lumpur, in an entirely different continent.

What message could be contained in this tragedy?

Reports that insurgents or possibly just local residents were scouring the debris fields picking up valuables including credit cards has added disgust. Instead of treating the death scene with respect, it appears to have turned into an opportunity for quick gain, at least for some.

Is that the message, human condition is abominable?

According to a New York Times report, the air route which the plane was using was open… open that is until the plane would have reached the Russian border. Unbelievably, the Russian airway authorities had closed the airspace beginning with its Ukrainian border eastward.

Flight 17 was downed about 50 miles short of the border. The question of the day is what would have happened had the plane not been short down?

The second question of the day, why would Malaysian Air have flown a route it could not have completed?

There are many conspiracy theories possible. A more straight forward explanation is human error. Sophisticated surface to air missiles in the hands of irregular military types makes no sense on all accounts. Command and control is lacking with irregulars.

Non-combatants should be expected to assume they are not a target, so flying the same route they have always flown ought to be expected. A responsible airline, however, would have been expected to have checked for any alerts.

The Ukraine conflict is a surrogate war. The West (Europe plus the US) versus the Russian Federation. The West is trying to extend its influence east and the Russians are trying to block these efforts. For the West, bluffing and then looking the other way is a preferred strategy. For Russia, bluffs normally do not exist. This contrast of style was for sure a contributing factor.

The top people on both sides know this, yet were willing to play the surrogate game.

The surrogate game is being played in other lands too. Syria, Iraq, Gaza, and to an extent, in Afghanistan to name a few. The mess called central Africa is another place to observe non-combatants dying from outside influence.

The problem with these wars is that the sides are not clear. Who are the good guys and who are the bad ones. The US has a role to play but it is not around the use of US military force.

More likely the US role is to reiterate where our influence will be placed, where we will be neutral, and where we will not exert any influence. Once these positions are made clear, then we must ensure our actions support them. The current world confusion has arisen because the US has gone silent (while still exerting force) and allowed itself to believe it could expand its influence unrestrictedly.

Expanding the European Union was risky, expanding NATO was bordering on foolish and trying to convince the Russians that “star wars” was good for them was a joke.

Most of the world is poverty stricken. Most of those region’s would be leaders are simply people in pursuit of personal wealth. Democratic rule (as we know it) is just not going to happen. Some form of benevolent authoritarian government is the best those populations can hope for.

Telling the American people that open elections, capitalism, and human rights will bring much of the world into the 21st century is a disservice to everyone and for countries such as Russia and China, represents a threat to their established governments. It times for the rhetoric which President Obama and members of Congress select to get real.

Real in the sense of the facts, real in the sense of what is truly possible.  Real in the sense of McDonalds or Subway or Nike or Facebook or Twitter.  These social forces will do more than bullets and bombs.

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Non-Combatants

July 18, 2014

On a certain level, the Ukrainian insurgency is understandable. The West wants to draw the Ukraine away from Russian Federation’s influence in an attempt to weaken Russia.   The Russian Federation wants to do the opposite.

Russian strategy involves weakening the Ukrainian government (minimizing nationalism forces) and as a result, allowing century old natural ties between the Russians and Ukrainian people to show through. Just as drawing boarders around certain middle east territory and calling it “Iraq” or “Syria” does not make a natural nation, claiming the lands known as the Ukraine are separate and distinct from Russian ties is just as hollow.

On another level, however, special interests in both countries are mainly interested in their personal wealth.  Surprise, surprise. These special interests are closely linked to the national leaders (who also seek wealth enhancement).   From this alliance, foreign policy is drawn.

A weakened Ukraine will serve the needs of corrupt leaders best allowing them to divert money to themselves. In this regard, the Russian Federation’s self interest plays into the time honored practice of political leaders fleecing their people. The West’s strategy assumes a “zero sum game” and what Russia loses, the West gains.  

The Ukrainian insurgency has pitted Russian supplied “insurgents” against the formal Ukrainian military (surrogates for the West). Innocent Ukrainians as well as combatants from both sides have died in sporadic skirmishes. The loss if life on both sides has been senseless especially given the stated goals of the common people.

I wonder whether the political leaders think about these deaths?

Yesterday, however, there was an event that made these deaths look small. A Malaysian Airline Boing 777 jet plane, carrying close to 300 non-combatant passengers, was shot down while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The already senseless insurgency can boast of even greater collateral damage.

It might be understandable were the downing of the 777 an isolated non-combatant event. When boys play with guns, bad things happen.   Just look to Gaza, Iraq, or Syria to see the impact of proxy wars upon the local non-combatant population.

I wonder whether they teach this (non-combatant collateral damage) in the schools where young men and women go to get their Statecraft degrees?