In theory, I should post about Ukraine, but in practice, the news is thick on speculation and thin on evidence. And the rush to assign blame before all the facts are in*, particularly now that the black boxes from the downed Malaysian Airlines are in the hands of the Malaysian government, is particularly troubling. It’s well documented in research on cognitive biases that once most people have formed a point of view about something, they remain committed to it even in the face of new information. This is why people who recall all too well the full-bore propagandizing before the war in Iraq are so suspicious of the aggressive effort by US officials to pin the destruction of the passenger jet on Putin. This episode feels way too familiar, in a very bad way.
I’m also personally very depressed by the US effort to escalate the tensions in Ukraine. The point appears to be to the Europeans to join the US in tougher sanctions against Russia. We are in no position to fight a hot war on Russia’s borders. And Russia still holds an important card, in terms of its role in supplying energy to Europe. Note that Ambrose Evans-Pritchard disagrees. One thing he misses, however, is the French in the BNP Paribas case didn’t try routing dollar payments outside the US to escape US jurisdiction; they cleared them all in the New York branch. Barry Eichengreen pointed out in the Financial Times that executing dollar transactions entirely outside the US is possible, abeit clearly more costly.
And Evans-Pritchard also notes that the French and Germans have yet to join the US in the latest round of sanctions (but see FT story, the French are being muscled heavily on the Mistral and are wavering). If they were to stand, this may prove what critics of BNP Paribas fine argued: the US overplayed its hand, and that makes its putative allies less rather than more willing to cooperate. And Hollande’s objections center on the cost to the French economy being too high.
Or is this simply a bad intersection of a mid-term election strategy (distract attention from domestic issues) feeding into neocon derangement? I feel like I could use Craazyman’s remedy of red wine and Xanax right now.
So instead, I’ve pulled out what would normally be the Ukraine section of Links and am posting it separately here to encourage reader discussion. I strongly suggest that the commentariat stay vigilant as to what is really known, meaning it appears to have a sound basis in fact, versus is more speculative (as Lambert pointed out, “web evidence” is close to an oxymoron). I’d also very much appreciate input as to what the reporting on Ukraine is like in the non-English language press, most importantly in Europe.
MH17: July 21 as it happened Telegraph
The Best To Hope For Ilargi
The charge of the Atlanticist Brigade Asia Times
MH-17 = Ghouta Redux? by Confused Ponderer Sic Semper Tyrannis
MH17 crash: FT photo shows signs of damage from missile strike Financial Times. As Lambert pointed out, with some frustration, why are “experts” rendering judgment on photos (without caveats being added) when those sections of the aircraft can and presumably will be examined? Another FT article points out:
…international best practice would be for the investigators to retrieve as many pieces of the aircraft and then lay it out – “a big aeroplane takes up the size of two football pitches”. The investigators should then be able to deduce what had happened to the aircraft.
The Russian military finally speaks! Vineyard of the Saker (YY). Important.
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine? Robert Parry, Consortium News
Supplier of MH17 rocket sits on the Amsterdam Zuidas Reuters (in Dutch, see Google Translate version)
Row erupts over French warship ahead of European summit Financial Times
Caught in global storm over MH17, Russia battens down the hatches Christian Science Monitor
Russia’s Message on Jet: Conciliation and Bluster New York Times
Netherlands to lead MH17 investigation Financial Times. Notice heavy reliance on official Ukrainian sources.
Of Planes and Proxies New Yorker. Brace yourself.
Can Putin Survive? Stratfor. This is presumably how the neocons believe events will play out.
MH-17: Beware of the «Chameleon» Wayne Madsen. Makes Graham Greene look like child’s play, if this is even half right.
* Cynics point out that the US has evidence, in terms of satellite surveillance, and perilously little has been presented. It does take time to analyze that sort of information, but given the perceived urgency, one would assume this task is well underway…and if there was a good faith effort, the officialdom would be making cautionary noises rather than declarations.