Ukraine Open Thread (and Links)

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.

Holier than Thou: Why Should Anyone Believe the US, Ukraine, or Russia? What is the US Attempting to Hide? Michael Shedlock

China’s Response to the MH17 Tragedy? Condemn the West Time

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.

The Dogs of Accounting Have to Hound Putin, Not the Average Oligarch With Dirty Money Streetwise Professor

* 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.

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    1. Stelios Theoharidis

      I was listening to radio times on NPR yesterday, they were talking to a couple of experts on the subject. Few of them doubted that it was the separatists that were responsible for the missle strike on the aircraft. They did however, all suggest that the most important thing at this moment was to stray away from the American habit of demonizing Putin, that if there was any path to de-escalation it would be through him and our rhetoric at this moment is very important.

      It was also very interesting that one of the top Donetsk rebel commanders, Igor Girkin, is from Moscow and by self admission is a former FSB agent as of March 2013 (FSB was formerly the KGB) and has been involved in previous conflicts in other regions of interest to Russia. His second in command also has the same affiliations. This information suggests active Russian involvement either via the Kremlin or some other back channel. I imagine that they could have a modicum of control over the situation if they were so inclined.

      The Eastern Ukraine situation is complex and the nuances of the issue have often been glossed over by western media. Many of the eastern Ukrainians are actually in support of separation. This is both economic since their side of the country has deep links to trade with Russia as well as ethnic due to historic Russification of these and other regions (sending large populations of former occupants to the Gulag). The Americans similarly have certainly have played a role in capacity building on the western Ukrainian side both in the Orange Revolution and more recently. This has been going on for quite a while now via the International Republican Institute and their Democratic counterparts.

      I am entirely against the drum beat of war that has been promoted by the right in our country and against demonizing the Russians at this point. After Iraq, we have little or no moral authority in the world, particularly as it relates to pre-emptive aggression. Honestly, I think that both the Russians and the US have been playing a dangerous game in Ukraine and both of them are unwilling to admit it. Unfortunately, I am inclined to believe that this tradegy will be utilized by both sides to escalate the tension rather than reduce the violence in the region.

      1. cwaltz

        I’m not sure why it matters that Russia is supporting rebels. It isn’t like we haven’t picked sides. The only thing that chafes the US is that Russia picked the opposite side that we backed(and spent billions of dollars to put in power.)

        *shrugs* I refuse to get mad at a country for doing EXACTLY what we do on a reguar basis(backing rebels for our own self interest.)

        1. Stelios Theoharidis

          Russia is still recovering from the bag of goods that was sold to them post communism by the west, the economic crisis, the washington consensus and sell-off of their major industries, incredibly inept management of privatization, the creation of the oligarchy, political corruption, etc. After that nasty period I wouldn’t trust us either. Putin managed to create a modicum of stability by either hobbling or joining up with the oligarchs. But, he also brought with him a resurgence of Russian power via influence or strong-arming their immediate neighbors. They have been able to flex their muscles due to the resources they control and the positive economic impacts that has had to certain segments of their economy.

          The Americans, well many of us are still tied up in the Reagan fervor, exceptionalism and imperial hubris. We certainly cannot keep that pace or our economic system will eventually collapse under the weight of our militaristic ambitions. Many are obviously against this. But, the rhetoric of a fatalistic conflict of good versus evil seems to resonate with many people, particularly those on the right, religious conservatives obviously eat it up since it fits into their dangerous narratives regarding the rapture. I think the modern center left still has to keep pace because many Americans regardless of political affiliation have also bought into the propaganda / PR of insecurity, terrorism, immigrants, criminals, freedom haters, etc. We would never have been able to justify our levels of security and military expenditure if it wasn’t for that campaign to imbue the public with an irrational fear of the unwashed masses of the world. While the Russians weren’t ordinarily part of that narrative of fear post communism, it was easily adapted to include them.

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      The other point they made is whomever allowed the Malaysian aircraft to fly through that region is going to need to come to account for that decision. How anyone could have believed that this was acceptable is beyond them.

      1. Paul

        I don’t think they expected the separatists to possess and be able to operate sophisticated missile launchers capable of reaching a civilian airliner at cruising altitude.

          1. Paul

            It’s not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but there is a preponderance of evidence. It’s enough for me.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Nothing resembling “evidence” has been presented. You, as Lambert warned, are relying on “web evidence” and we have evidence of that being faked as recently as the infamous videos of Syrian gassing.

              1. OIFVet

                If Western MSM media quoting western government sources says it then it must be true. Remember Iraqi WMDs? Curveball said they xisted. Now Poroshenko says the Novorussians done it. What could possibly go wrong?

                1. Ned Ludd

                  “There is evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council Andrey Lysenko told a news conference. “To disown this tragedy, [Russia] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps.”

                  Don’t believe all those pictures and maps and stuff. Just take our word for it!

              2. Stelios Theoharidis

                Ok our smorgasborg of options: 1) It was a Buk SAM from the Ukrainians; 2) It was a air to air missile from a Ukrainian fighter; 3) It was a Buk SAM missile from separatists (Ukrainian equipment captured in June /or/ Russian provided equipment); 4) it was a air to air missile from a Russian fighter. 5) Terrorist Attack

                One of the main contentions of the Russians is that rebels can’t operate the Buk systems. I think that this is pretty inane since as I mentioned above they obviously have Russian (either former or current) military / intelligence personnel amongst them who have expertise in multiple fronts.

                “With a background in the Russian military, including service in Chechnya, Serbia and Trans-Dniester, a self-proclaimed republic on the territory of Moldova, the Russian citizen commanded rebel forces in their symbolic stronghold of Sloviansk before retreating with his men to Donetsk. He says he was a reserve colonel in the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service, until 31 March last year.”

                Although the Ukranians have Buk SAMs in the area, how many aircraft have the Ukranians shot out of the sky thus far? Zero. How many aircraft have the separatists shot out of the sky thus far? Twelve. Now the suggestion is that they may have potentially used other equipment to drop the other aircraft other than Buk SAMs. But, we do know that one appears to be a bit more trigger happy between the two actors on this front. Assuming that this is not some sort of false flag event, I am much more inclined to believe that the separatists had a higher likelihood of mistaking the flight than the Ukranians, due to a lack of sophisticated radar systems at their disposal. Particularly with another hostile aircraft in the area and their current record of knocking aircraft out of the sky. Now it would be clever for the Ukranians to prompt a separatist Buk SAM strike, not sure if that falls into their calculus and it would still be the separatists doing.

                So if there was a Ukrainian aircraft operating in the area of the flight (which is the other main Russian contention), rapidly approaching a slow target, why would the Ukrainians use a Buk SAM to drop it out of the sky? How would they mistake it for a military aircraft if they had sophisticated radar tracking its movement as well as a flight plan? Again which direction was this flight moving? West. So assuming that the Ukranians mistakenly thought that there was a Russian fighter jet, despite radar information suggesting otherwise (speed and trajectory) they are going to risk trying to drop a Russian aircraft moving away from Ukraine for what reason exactly? To pull the Russians into the conflict? Because that really worked well for Georgia? Why, when they can can limit the scope of the conflict to the separatists?

                There is also the three intercepted phone calls, one discussing Indonesian passports, not authenticated. Separatists bragging on social media about downing a flight, not authenticated. Videos, pictures, and reports of Puk systems in rebel controlled territories, not authenticated. American intelligence, not authenticated.

                While the Russians have also provided intelligence, it has also not been authenticated. It also appears to have been hastily put together, the Ukrainian fighter jet apparently does not have air to air capabilities and it is displayed incorrectly with a different piece of equipment by the Russians.

                I don’t care for any of the parties in this conflict for sure, but it seems like either Ukranian separatists or the various Russian nationals that appear to be playing cowboys and indians in the region are likely to be responsible.

  1. jgordon

    I’ve reached the point now where if someone in the Obama regime or their apparatchiks in the corporate state media say something I simply believe its a lie until some ironclad proof comes along that it isn’t a lie. Rather than a cumbersome phrase like “known inveterate, compulsive liars” there should be a shorthand word for that in the English language. “Incredible” just doesn’t cut it. Anticredible maybe?

    1. Brindle

      Weasel words from US State Dept’s Marie Harf at press briefing yesterday (July 21).
      Harf sites “social media” and something “sort of out there in the public domain ” as evidence against Rebels and Russia. Would be funny if not so tragic.

      —QUESTION: Okay. And then you are perhaps familiar with the briefing that the Russian defense ministry gave this morning in which they laid out satellite images or radar tracking images talking about a Ukrainian fighter plane that was apparently near this – the Malaysian airlines plane. They also asked questions, a series of questions to you – meaning the U.S. Government – to produce the documentation, the evidence that Secretary Kerry, Ambassador Power talked about but didn’t offer any forensic evidence, or at least intel evidence. How do you respond to that?

      MS. HARF: Well, a couple points. You saw the Secretary yesterday speak very clearly about our assessment that this was an SA-11 fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory; that we know – we saw in social media afterwards, we saw videos, we saw photos of the pro-Russian separatists bragging about shooting down an aircraft that then they then – they then – they then – excuse me – took down once it became clear that it may have been a passenger airline.

      There is a preponderance of evidence at this point both sort of out there in the public domain and also from our information that points to the fact that there was a SA-11 launched from separatist-controlled territory. We assess, of course, that the Russian-backed separatists have this system, and one of the main reasons we have called for a full investigation is so we can get all the facts out there.—

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Harf is frightfully nonsensical. (In effect, “I saw photos of guys bragging about it Twitter so it must be true).

        Sheesh! Such incompetence might be quite comical in a different context, but in a real-world nuclear powers pissing contest it’s rather scary. You have to wonder if there are any adults in the Obama regime. Still, it could be even worse under McCain. At least the Putin administration appears sane and deliberative.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Bingo. At least with Bush/Cheney you knew you were dealing with hardened ideologues of the worst kind. In the case of Obomba, it’s all Vichy Left Berkeley-ites with no actual clue about how the world works. Susan Rice and her “humanitarian bombing” of Libya. The cluster in Egypt, where we supported Mubarak, then supported Morsi, then supported the generals, so now NO side trusts us. The wholesale fecklessness of Syria and Obomba’s red lines. And now the full commitment to the line “Putin did it” when in fact, there is no fact to be found that he was in fact anywhere near responsible. Their last straw is now to state “Putin should have controlled the crash site”, when you’d think the Ukrainians would have a thing or two to say about Putin exercising sovereignty or control over part of their country? I mean can we just stop it with the complete and utter screwups, lies, and foot-shooting already? It’s embarassing.

    2. MaroonBulldog

      jgordon, I believe Standard English lacks the word you want, but I Newspeak has it: “Mintru”–the compressed wreckage of “Minsitry of Truth” reads the pedigree pretty well.

  2. Ned Ludd

    The Russian Defense Ministry said that “there was indeed a US satellite flying over southeastern Ukraine on July 17 from 17:06 to 17:21 Moscow time. This satellite is part of an experimental system designed to track and monitor the launches of missiles of various ranges. If our US colleagues have imagery from this satellite, they should release it for the international community to examine it in detail.”

    Robert Parry’s source goes further and claims, “U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops…” I think that it is unwise to put too much stock in what Parry’s source says, considering that the only support for this source is that they “provided accurate information on similar matters in the past”. Also, focusing on “the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk” (my emphasis) could undermine the effort to pressure the U.S. government to release the satellite images.

    Remember how Dan Rather’s questionable evidence made it impossible to even discuss Bush’s National Guard service? I could foresee an exchange like this:

    Reporter: “Do you have any satellite images showing drunk Ukrainian soldiers shooting a missile at the Malaysia Airlines flight?”

    Government spokesperson: “No, none of our satellite images show drunk Ukrainian soldiers shooting a missile at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. This is another wild conspiracy theory being promoted by RT and on fringe Internet forums.”

    After that, anyone who asks about the satellite images is labeled a conspiracy nut.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s a drawing on top of a picture from 2010, not a picture of t he missile. Obama must be desperate.

          1. Fiver

            Brown Moses is going to lead whomever his people might be straight to ruin. You’d think having been decisively smacked down by the truth in Syria would’ve tempered his rhetoric and claims, but he apparently wants undisputed title as the world’s most famous “unemployed” (Ha!) self-made expert.

  3. fdr not that useful1

    Well I am curious: what do you think is in that black box that is going to clear this up?

    FDRs do not contain radar tracks; they just contain performance data of the planes operational systems. There is no data on external events. At best there might be a few seconds of noise or pilot alarm on the cockpit voice recorder, and the fact that this cockpit recorder now has a broken chain of evidence makes even this a dubious source. (It is true that forensic methods could probably distinguish faked added sounds, but they may not catch deleted sounds.)

    What it likely to be shown is the plane was working fine right up until a catastrophic moment when the missile hit, and then the FDR and Cockpit recorded just stop. All this proves is there was a catastrophic event, and that it was most likely an external one. The conclusion is then almost unavoidable that the plane was struck with a missile.. So we are thrown back on public aviation data (aviation radar, etc), and the sensor data of governments (military radar, sigint, etc.). It is quite likely that we will have to rely on the later, rather than the former.

    If in fact it was shot down by a missile, which seems highly likely, the only issues seems to be: did the Ukraine government set this up so that the “rebels” shot it down, or did either the “rebels” or the Russian military itself get out of hand and shoot it down unprovoked. In any of these cases, Russia has some culpability in that is supplied the weapons, and one supposes either the training or the technical operators.

    All of the chattering in the media about recovering the flight recorders is puzzling.

    1. Brindle

      The Kiev ATC (air traffic control) tapes would likely be of more value. Seeing how the Kiev govt has not released those so far…..

          1. Paul Niemi

            Then we know that information is now in the hands of the Malaysian authorities. We will have to wait to see if they will release the recording to the public. If so, we will have to trust they have not fiddled with it. I know some want to indict Kiev, but then I think of the horror if that were true. I would rather it be a mistake. If Kiev directed that airplane to alter its direction to where it was shot down, it becomes a possibility the people in that airplane were knowingly led to their slaughter. That is so horrible an idea as to be unthinkable to me right now.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                They probably intercepted any transmission even civilian transmissions. They dont want to shoot down a passenger plane violating their air space after 9/11*. The status of the plane isn’t worth checking the black boxes for internal conditions of the plane unless they thought the problem was internal but then they would be able to tell.

                There is a reason the air traffic control data hasn’t been released. Perhaps it’s a shoe string operation and so there is nothing. Perhaps it’s damning.

                *Even here fighters have to shadow planes who go off course or lost contact every few months. Everyone watches now.

              2. Paul Niemi

                Sorry no link, but I just heard the Malaysians are handing over the black boxes to the Brits, who will be expected to act as a neutral party in analyzing the contents.

                1. Doug Terpstra

                  In effect, then, contrary to proper procedure, the boxes go straight to the CIA … to fix the facts around a predetermined agenda. Not very promising.

                2. hunkerdown

                  Sounds like Malaysia is under duress. Let’s watch their posture on the TPP for the payoff.

    2. Gaianne

      You left out an option: That the Ukies themselves shot it down to blame the Russians. If this strikes you as unlikely–and it may–remember the options you assume are just as unlikely.

      Also. No one has yet ruled out onboard failure, with no attack and no missiles.

      Can you say “Rush to judgement?” Can you say “Drinking the Koolaid?”


    3. hunkerdown

      (It is true that forensic methods could probably distinguish faked added sounds, but they may not catch deleted sounds)

      Discontinuities or unexplained changes in the background noise are likely to reveal deletions. GCHQ records the power grid 24×7 to authenticate and locate ransom videos, for example, and one can safely presume the aircraft has plenty of long-period drifts about nominal operating points that would reveal such discontinuities. Each CVR channel corroborates the others and they would be rather difficult to edit in tandem without adding abnormal noise.

      Such an editing suite is a capability I seriously doubt the rebels have or could conjure quickly, but given a month or two, could probably come up with something. On the other hand, such a capability would fit right into GCHQ JTRIG’s bookshelf, complete with a cutesy cover term. Russia probably has the ability to do it too, or could build one comparatively quickly.

      Of course, the black boxes should be considered spoliated evidence as soon as Western allies touch them, on the basis of “cui bono”.

    4. Lexington

      All of the chattering in the media about recovering the flight recorders is puzzling.


      Plus the Russians presumably reviewed the flight recorder data before agreeing to release them and are satisfied there is nothing that could cast suspicion on themselves.

      Conceivably there could be something that would implicate the Ukrainian government but for the reasons you cite this too is unlikely.

      1. Fiver

        Lot’s of distracting noise about the black boxes – and nothing on msm about the Ukrainian ATC records.

    1. Carolinian

      This link seems to be broken for me. I get an error message on all “Strategic-culture.”

      1. tim s

        broken for me too in Firefox. Just go to the strategic-culture main page and scroll down until you find it. It worked for me that way.

    2. susan the other

      Thanks. That was very interesting. Been wondering why Malaysia. And today on ZH it was reported that another Malaysian passenger airline flew over Syria against all warnings. Too many coincidences. It is looking alot like 1938. What is it about Russia that the western world refuses to just let be? Oh, and Iraq has given the US an ultimatum – either help them against ISIS or they will seek another protector (that would be Russia). The whole world is following the war mongers’ handbook.

      1. dearieme

        Good grief, would the Russians be daft enough to send troops to Iraq? Surely they remember how their own Afghan war went? More likely Iran.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It depends on what they are doing. Afghanistan was a problem for the Soviets when we supplied the Mujahideen with shoulder mounted missiles and they could hide in the rugged terrain. If Iraq had an air force, they would cut ISIS down in the desert and roads where they can’t hide.

          Our casualties came from occupation and roadside bombs, but if you limit your activity, ISIS can be forced into siege-like conditions. Think about Libya or the actual kinetic war in 2003.

        2. cwaltz

          There appears to be “sides” forming. I imagine Iran would be ‘helping’ the Russians with the region. I wonder if China becomes Switzerland or ends up on the Russian side too.

          Afghanisthan also is different terrain. The Kurds have a somewhat mountainous region from what I understand but most of Iraq is flat making it easier on ISIS to take areas.

    3. Lambert Strether

      Thanks, fixed. (The link was “broken” in the sense that it went to the Consortium News article by Robert Parry.)

      Madsen normally gives off a high warbling sound, but with the Powers That Be having turned up the knobs to 11, I almost welcome anything that cuts through the noise.

      UPDATE I read it. I’m not seeing a lot of linky goodness. Not even to, say, the NATO exercise he talks about. In fact, the link count is zero (0). No, I’m not going to do the author’s work for him with teh Google. If I want evidence-free theorizing, I can read the Times or the Washington Post.

      1. Brindle

        Apt description: : “high warbling sound” and the Spinal Tap ref—have to be in the right mood to read Madsen.

  4. John

    We know a couple of things that are not in dispute, but one alone stands out big time. The plane was downed by a sophisticated weapon that was able to travel several miles up into the sky from the ground with precision. Only sophisticated nation states can build them, sell them, train personnel on them, like Russia, for instance. Someone (or groups of people) did this and within the sphere of influence of Russia. In other words, right next to Russia and not in some other place. The FBI and others are heading to the Ukraine to gather more evidence to make a more formative analysis.

    The American president has had a measured approach thus far with regards to the Ukraine. I have not seen a single shred of reporting stating he wants a war. A few hawks are on TV posturing for war, but Obama has demonstrated leadership on this one, someone who I think is the worst president in the last 6-years. He’s letting the EU leadership take the lead on resolving the disputes and of course, and naturally we are slow to act because we are on our summer vacations. Obama wants to ratchet things up minus war because he has right-wing hawks breathing down his neck who are irritable and have soiled their Depends. That is political reality.

    Clearly, and is well known, Russia invaded a part of the Ukraine, Crimea, and that should not stand. The Europeans realize they have a lot more to lose with any Russian entanglement. That is the quandary they are in. Appease someone who has invaded your border or lose big on the mercantilist side of the house. As an Italian parliamentarian said last week: Our hearts are in the USA, but our wallets are in Russia.

    History does repeat itself which is something we forget easily here in Europe. Neighboring invasions are part of our collective history. This is a fact. Some countries, like Poland and the Baltic states, remember this well and are much firmer in their collective response to Russia. The problem for them is the kleptocrats don’t want to rock the boat. Our soft-power to this conflict is a failure thus far, which abets the right-wingers in the Kremlin to get more ambitious.

    To act as if there are no right-wingers in Russia who want nothing better than to stir things up in the West, especially here in Europe, is not paying attention.

    1. steviefinn

      Read the links if you can stand the cognitive dissonance. For starters there is enough up there to cast serious doubts on your second sentence, not to mention the rest.

    2. b

      Slightly modified this is also true:

      “Only sophisticated nation states can build them, sell them, train personnel on them, like UKRAINE, for instance. Someone (or groups of people) did this and within the sphere of influence of UKRAINE. In other words, right IN UKRAINE and not in some other place. The FBI and others are heading to the Ukraine to gather more evidence to make a more formative analysis AND TO DECLARE THE US “Yats” COUP GOVERNMENT NOT GUILTY:”

    3. Russ

      Well done, bravo. The swivel-eyed loons are all over this story, so thank you for grounding us.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Because you could easily swap out “right wingers in Russia” with “right wingers in country X” and find a crank website to prove your point. Also, it appeals to prejudices from the Cold War and even before without anything solid worth researching.

          Do you have examples of these politicians or is it just a feeling? Who is Russia’s John McCain or Hillary Clinton? Certainly, we have the dapper dandy from SC calling for Israel to do anything in Gaza, but who are these Russians? Cranks under police surveillance? Or members of the foreign policy elite?

          Right now, there are elements in this country who think the South will rise again. There is a guy on Rte 460 near Blacksburg, Virginia who would like nothing better than to see Jeff Davis restored to his rightful place. I bet the Army of Northern Virginia just went underground to wait for its chance.

          Do you understand now? You were channeling Palin. I wonder when the Obots will apologize to her now that they largely agree with her position.

          1. timbers

            Been saying for years Obama is a lot like Sarah Palin on many issues, only he speaks with better grammar.

    4. Brindle

      “The American president has had a measured approach thus far….”
      Sounds like a narrator from a History Channel piece on WWII or maybe the Granada Invasion.

    5. Ned Ludd

      The plane was downed by a sophisticated weapon that was able to travel several miles up into the sky from the ground with precision.

      Does the Ukrainian military possess any of these sophisticated weapons?

      1. hunkerdown

        According to Russian MoD satellite photo releases, not just the missiles, but the whole tracking system. Without the radar trucks, a Buk hitting a 33000ft target is a long shot, quite literally, and stands very little chance of success. I would imagine an irregular force would be loath to waste that sort of ammo on an enterprise with no possible good to come out of it.

      2. JCC

        Yes, the Ukrainian Military does possess such weapons, in fact the exact same weapons and supplied to them by Russia, and a shitload more of them. Don’t forget, the Ukraine was a Russian Satellite and bought about 99% of their weaponry from Russia. And Russia trained them well on how to use them.

      1. jgordon

        Probably not. It’s boilerplate. Didn’t you see the story in the Guardian last week about how these shlubs go about trying to influence public opinion?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Two, they aren’t that bright or they would have given up after the Odessa massacre, so it’s reasonable to assume that this was the result of an all night error.

          1. hunkerdown

            “Brightness” and existential crises don’t play well together. The death of the Grand Project one’s whole identity and career depends on is a fine example of an existential crisis where, over evolutionary timescales, ferocity has played out better than calm.

    6. timbers

      “Clearly, and is well known, Russia invaded a part of the Ukraine, Crimea, and that should not stand.”

      Invaded Crimea? As in we liberated Iraq?

    7. Lambert Strether

      Life is short, so I’ll just pull out one paragraph from John’s semi-plausible but ludicrously inadequate commentary:

      The plane was downed by a sophisticated weapon that was able to travel several miles up into the sky from the ground with precision. Only sophisticated nation states can build them, sell them, train personnel on them

      Like, for example, the country that manufactures the one of the world’s most reliable rocket engines, the RD-170, or the largest aircraft ever built.

      This doesn’t speak to “whodunnit,” of course, but it does demonstrate the necessity of doing a little basic research before spouting off. Others on this topic, including people I disagree with, have done this. John should too.

    8. Yves Smith Post author

      This is typical for what happens if you don’t bother begin rigorous.

      All the military equipment in Ukraine (save anything sent recently by the US, which would be comparatively trivial) comes from Russia. That means the stuff used by the Ukrainian government and the separatists.

      Origin proves squat about who was responsible.

  5. trish

    I had just started perusing some of the above links, awaiting my coffee to begin seeping into my brain, and saw this: “In the US domestic propaganda is prohibited by law.” Seems always something somewhere on this site to provide a bit of a laugh about/in the face of the evil of our corporate state…thanks to Sic Semper Tyrannis.

      1. RUKidding

        Thanks for providing the link, so I didn’t have to look for it. Plus there was that fed court decision that Fox (and now all others) could tell lies & fabrications with impunity and call it “News.”

        Quite honestly, about all the M$M ever ever has done was publish propaganda of one sort or another, but lately it’s all USG propaganda all the time. That includes most especially NPR & PBS, which are both run by big corporations, just like all the other media outlets.

    1. hunkerdown

      Makes perfect sense if the “investigation” is being conducted with the prosecutor’s mindset.

  6. buffykicksass

    The first step in solving any crime is motive. Who has the most to gain? I think that the Russians and Ukranian rebels have the least to gain. It would turn world opinion against them. If not them, who gains the most? The Ukranian government has a heck of a lot to gain. So to does the US government. Who has history of these type of events? Both do. So far there has been no evidence presented that shows this was a surface to air attack. Therefore it is logical to think that the airliner could have been shot down by a military aircraft as well. Everything at this point is pure speculation, but I suspect that a heck of a lot of nations security appartus already know what has happened. If they don’t, I would suggest that they disband all their agencies, and spend their money on better equipment. I know making this comment means that I will be forever monitored by the NSA, but I don’t discount a US false flag attack happening here.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘So far there has been no evidence presented that shows this was a surface to air attack. Therefore it is logical to think that the airliner could have been shot down by a military aircraft as well.’

      If the notorious TWA 800 case is any guide, it’s logical to think it was an exploding center fuel tank.

      People still just don’t understand how very dangerous kerosene is, even after it took down three buildings in New York.

    2. vidimi

      asking cui bono is most useful for determining whodunnit in cases where we can rule out an accidental cock up, such as the syrian chemical attack crisis: one doesn’t gas a civilian suburb by accident. in this case, the most likely scenario is still that the rebels shot it down believing it to be a ukie transport plane.

      1. Gaianne

        Accident hypothesis is possible, but still needs evidence. Not waiting for evidence is propagandizing, which is also evidence, though pointing in a different direction.


      2. Ned Ludd

        Cui bono is not useful for determining whodunnit. Cui bono indicates a good place to start an investigation.

        “The most likely scenario” is simply a euphemism for “what the news said”.

    3. Lexington

      The first step in solving any crime is motive. Who has the most to gain? I think that the Russians and Ukranian rebels have the least to gain. It would turn world opinion against them. If not them, who gains the most? The Ukranian government has a heck of a lot to gain. So to does the US government.

      Funny thing about confirmation bias – it cuts both ways.

      The Russians and secessionists have as much or as little to gain from shooting down a civilian airliner as the US and Ukraine do. In either case, exposure of their involvement would turn world opinion against them. In either case, convincing the world the other side did it would be a propaganda coup. The symmetry is almost flawless.

      That so many people deny the clear logic of the situation in favor of the belief that this somehow only works one way is powerful testimony to the triumph of ideology over reason.

    4. tiebie66

      Who has motive? Gaza?
      Who stands to gain? Gaza?
      Given the super-effective manner in which this event has succeeded (look at the feverish degree of speculation this has unleashed) in drawing the world’s attention away from events in Gaza, I suspect Gaza to be behind it. But, I have no proof, and no links, just a feel in an aging gut. And, if Gaza is not behind it, there is no denying the fact that it would have been very clever, on the part of Gaza, to have orchestrated such an event. As cover. That is to say, if it were capable of having done so. No, what I mean is, if Gaza were capable of shelling children on a beach.
      Wish that I were not so cynical, and, that with the blink of an eye, I will notice a world brimming everywhere with persons of good will willing good.

  7. steviefinn

    Couldn’t help but notice the lynch mob newstand in the local supermarket on Sunday – ‘ Kremlin killers ‘ etc from the tabloids with the faux progressive Guardian shouting rather than screaming the same message, but of course in a politer tone. People seem to be falling for it whether it’s true or not, seeming not to care that if it was a murder inquiry that no evidence has yet been presented – Perhaps they need a new ‘ Dr. Evil ‘ to direct their fear & frustrations against. As for lying there are precedents & of course the Neo-cons are quite happy with the concept & use of Plato’s so called ‘ Noble Lie ‘ although I’m sure he would ( if he had been given the chance ), been much more intelligent in his use of it.

    A million marched in the UK against the war in Iraq to no avail & people are screaming from their armchairs to send other peoples children to war – What could possibly go wrong ?

    1. John

      We have a long history here in Europe of invasion. This was a direct result of the kind of appeasement you allude to — conflating the obvious. Americans, Commonwealth nations, China, etc…. have a lot of military graves scattered throughout Europe, uniting the Continent because of past aggressions. A heavy price was paid by many who sacrificed so much which continues to this day of constant vigilance. Some, such as the Americans, have never left. They have kept our nations at peace for close to 70-years, minus the Balkans war. We forget this sometimes but many of us are grateful. Sure, politics are ugly at times but being soft has gotten us into trouble time and time again for such a long, long time.

      You have forgotten Russia invaded Europe via Ukraine (hint: Crimea). However it started, US caused it or Europe caused it, is a moot point. Russia is in. They invaded. Creating a proxy army to confuse the world in the Ukraine is what Russia has done.

      1. FederalismForever

        @John. Well put! Whatever else one may say about American foreign policy, there is no other 70-plus year period in European history that has been as peaceful as the recent 70-plus year period when American troops have been stationed throughout. (Come to think of it, the same thing can be said about the Far East.) Hopefully those who so eagerly root for American decline have taken this into account!

        1. Christopher Dale Rogers


          As with the other commentator I’ve disposed of, I actually suggest you do some historical research and acquaint yourself with the facts, and not a Hollywood version of events in Europe during and after WWII, and actually in the Far East – first and for most, please instruct me if the timeline from 1870-1945 in the Far East had less or more conflict than the timeline 1945-2014, now lets see, the British were active in the region and the Japs only awoke from there slumber following a US incursion into Japan that shocked them, China was ramshackle shall we say and Russian and the UK were at each others throats until the turn of the century, particularly in India. Please remind me that the USA were liberators in the Philippines, which by your account they were during the US-Spanish War of 1898, even Japanese militarism after the 1920’s can be apportioned on the USA, and yet you say after WWII more peace has existed, hence, Malaysia, China Civil War, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, none of this happened in the past 70 years – well that’s bullshite, as is your knowledge of Europe. Please take it from someone who’s a Brit, European and has actually lived in Asia for 18 years and the Yanks are not exactly loved here you know – that’s Asia and much the same applies to Europe – indeed, nothing would give me greater pleasure than the Yanks taking their imperial structure home with them to the USA – after two world wars I can assure you most Europeans detest war, and the most dangerous power presently is not China, is not Russia, but certainly is the USA, or am I as usual missing something!!!!!!!!!

          1. FederalismForever

            @Christopher Dale Rogers. American troops have not been stationed throughout all of the places in the Far East that make it to your laundry list of post-WWII atrocities. I had in mind the American troops stationed throughout Europe since the formation of NATO and throughout Japan and South Korea post-WWII. During that time frame, there have been no major wars in Europe (other than in the Balkans) and no wars at all among the so-called “great powers”. Since you’re so keen on historical research, please point me to another 65-year period in Europe that can say the same. Similarly, I maintain that the presence of U.S. troops in Japan has helped to prevent any major conflicts arising between China and Japan. Both countries have benefitted economically as a result. Again, can you say the same about any other 60-plus year period in the history of these two rival powers? Do you honestly believe that if the U.S. were to entirely withdraw from this region that we would not see hostilities break out again rather quickly?

            But I’m not trying to hijack this thread away from Ukraine/Russia. I’m actually ashamed and appalled by American actions in this region ever since the Clinton era. Expanding NATO so recklessly was a mistake, and I simply cannot fathom why certain elements in the American foreign policy regime seem hell-bent on provoking Putin.

      2. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Sorry to rain on your parade “old bean” but you are either supremely naive, a propagandist for the US-sponsored war with Russia party or in want of a “tin foil hat” to protect you from the propaganda emanating from radio, print and TV media.

        Just to remind you a little about US history from 1945-1947, first and foremost having beaten both the German Nazis and Japanese US forces occupied the losers and still occupy the losers – see foreign bases in Germany and Okinawa as prime examples of this, together with Italy, oh and the UK, something to do with lend-lease and terms associated with the loan taken from the USA by the UK Labour government just after the war – correspondingly, Russia stayed ensconced in MittelEurope, East Europe and a few Islands it allegedly liberated from Japan. A further interesting note is the fact that it was the UK, rather than the USA for 18 months after WWWII that was concerned with Soviet intent and expansionism, so please read up on the “Origins of the Cold War” and not from US primary sources please – the UK foreign Office and War Office papers from the timeline giving a better picture.

        Now, my timelines are important, because after the USSR undermined democracy in its occupied territories the Western European powers, funnily enough led by the UK, created NATO, which was from day one a defensive Pact aimed at the Communist USSR, as such, as with the Warsaw Pact, it should have be dismantled with the demise of Communism and the Soviet Union – the reverse has happened, its become a “anti-Russinan” front, which is not what it was established for – these are facts, and the same facts indicate clearly that the USA is still an occupying power in Germany and Japan, this more than 69 years after the end of WWII.

        Now, you may not know much about the Crimea, so please go and read some history about the 1850’s Crimea War between the UK, France and Russian Empire – you’ll see something called the “Black Sea Clauses”, but you’ll also see why the Crimea peninsular was important for the Russian Empire, the USSR and latterly, Russia – namely its a warm water port that gives access to the Med, and is thus a strategic asset, has been fought over by the Russian’s in the Crimea War, WWI and WWII – Crimea thus has had a large Russian military presence for two centuries and its difficult to invade a nation if your military might is already ensconced in that location – so please give it a rest with your invasion rhetoric as its complete bullshite.. I can obviously take your rather inept statements apart bit by bit, regrettably I don’t have time, but I do dislike ignorance of the facts, lies and out and out propaganda that you are espousing.

        Now please tell me, are US forces welcome in Okinawa, or, are they an occupying force as the locals believe, and whilst the German’s got quite happy with its own US military bases due to work they provided to locals, the fact remains that the USA remains in occupancy with nuclear weapons deposited on sovereign German soil – now, would you like to discuss hypocrisy with me please, and that’s before we get on to what’s happening in relation to the downed Malaysian plane in the Ukraine.

        1. tiger

          I want to say something, and I say this as someone who agrees with you and finds himself pretty much on the anti-U.S. side of this dispute with Russia.

          It is wrong to say things like “the other commentator I’ve disposed of”. you are not disposing of anyone. There is no room for ego here. It’s not a race where we squash a point of view completely. You can squash something if it presents a clear and present danger but you should allow posters the time to adjust their point of view and learn.

          Today, I find myself pretty anti-American, but back in 1999 when I saw Seattle on TV I thought “who are these losers who don’t shower? Why aren’t they sitting quietly in a classroom like I am? Why do they hate these incredibly successful companies like Exxon and Citigroup?”

          But eventually I learned. And I say all of this because when it comes to discussing Israel, I am often on the receiving end of the same treatment as John. It’s like you feel that other posters just want to dispose of you. This is bad for both sides. Don’t dispose of anyone. Just keep talking and learning.

          Now regarding Russia etc’ I agree with you like I said but I do want to point out one thing: when you go out and meet Japanese and German people about their country, the U.S. occupation is not exactly on the top of the “important subjects to discuss” list. Do you agree with me? I mean Japanese don’t live their lives with U.S. troops looking over their shoulder. Maybe the NSA but not troops. Or am I missing something?

          1. Lambert Strether

            True. One disposes of comments, not commenters. (Within reason. For example, one might say that “one disposes of cell phone calls, not cell phone callers.” That’s obviously not true for a persistent caller in a quiet car, for example.)

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            But many of these people are using strawmen and are only interested in Dear Leader. Even in your explanation about Seattle, you asked “why” even if there was prejudice involved instead of merely using a Palin-esque sensibility.

            John and Federalism Forever have made straw man arguments and demonstrated a limited scope of history.

            My favorite on this thread is the commenter who wants us to know how much he agrees with Yves but then accuses her of pro-Putin/fascist propaganda without providing any evidence. The goal is to deflect from U.S. behavior which is what this is about from my end. The only certainty is a plane once in the air had difficulty landing. Despite our vaunted intelligent services, t he US government and press seems to be c relying on the same kinds of stories used in previous misadventures. Perhaps, they are being honest, but as someone who believes the GOP is evil, I find any actor aligning with the ilk of John McCain ( remember how if we elected McCain we would be at war with Russia?) to have to pony up more than just “common sense” and emotional appeals.

            Everyone of these rally around the flag types no longer deserve respect. They have cast aside any semblance of reason or decency long ago.

            1. tiger

              So… obviously you’re right about “rally around the flag” but I think it’s important to differentiate between people who have fundamentally “rally around the flag” personalities vs. people who present “rally around the flag” arguments. There need to be a certain quantity, proportion, and I would even say tone, in someone’s “rally around the flag” arguments before justifying labeling them as “rally around the flag” people. Again, to use myself as an example, I know that I make many arguments about Israel that are identical to those the Israeli government but it’s just the convenience of choosing those arguments which I agree with. I find the idea of blindly following my government to be repulsive. They are a biased source with an agenda, it’s as simple as that. I think world politics over the past 30 years makes these things clear.

              And so I see John is simply a person who grew up with a very good notion of what is tyranny and what to watch out for. He is principled and he wants the best for humanity. That he lacks knowledge is fixable and tolerable. And even the lack of openness to other views is fixable. The only thing that is not fixable is a hidden agenda.

          3. Christopher Dale Rogers


            Whilst one could of utilised a better word than “disposed” in relation to John’s posts, the fact remains the posts were inaccurate to say the least, juvenile or outright propaganda, and I don’t like propaganda or selling mistruths to put it bluntly. So, had John augmented a sensible narrative, based upon facts, he’d have been treated differently, but if you post crud, you gets blown out of the water on these threads, which is acceptable given most posters seem well read and well educated – they just don’t uphold the establishment point of view, which on the whole is usually a tissue of lies.

            Now, I could have written a rather large essay to refute John, if not an actual book, but like others life is too short to give a blow by blow refutation of his summary and many points have been covered by others since the US/EU/Nato supported coup in the Ukraine earlier this year to undermine 100% his analysis or lack thereof.

              1. OIFVet

                Judging by your body of work in this thread, “substance” is to be defined as a one line “zinger.”

              2. Christopher Dale Rogers


                Sorry “old bean” but having studied European History for a full ten years of my life my memory serves me well, i.e., there are basic narratives and memes throughout history, but the deeper we look and examine, the more complex it becomes. Now having also studied at a postgrad level Federalism and International Relations, I usually don’t have to actually refer to actual sources, which by the way are extensive and supportive of anything I comment here upon. Now the plain fact is, the Crimea Peninsular is a strategic asset to Russia and has been for two centuries, essentially its a warm water port, which Russia actually lacks in most of its land mass, so think of Crimea as the USA Okinawa and also think of “blue water theory”, it will make sense. As for anything else, Putin has reined in Russian open support for the Ukrainian Federalists and the Russian legislative Body has voted on this matter twice this year, so to put it bluntly, the Russian handling of the Ukraine issue has been a damn sight more honest than the USA/EU/Nato. Oh, and I’m sorry for the lack of one liners, the issues are most complex and have a long timeline, but one things for sure, using this tragedy to sabre rattle at Russia is a crass move and hypocrisy at its worst, but the USA has always been good at hypocrisy and double standards – thank God the Germans are taking a more sombre approach, for if it were left to the elites in the USA and UK no doubt we’d be having a nuclear confrontation by now, such is the propaganda and desire for bogey men.

        2. Paul

          “Now please tell me, are US forces welcome in Okinawa, or, are they an occupying force as the locals believe, and whilst the German’s got quite happy with its own US military bases due to work they provided to locals, the fact remains that the USA remains in occupancy with nuclear weapons deposited on sovereign German soil – now, would you like to discuss hypocrisy with me please, and that’s before we get on to what’s happening in relation to the downed Malaysian plane in the Ukraine.”

          Total, complete rubbish. Local approval/disapproval has nothing to do with the fact that the governments of Germany and Japan routinely renew their security agreements with the U.S.

          1. OIFVet

            “Local approval/disapproval has nothing to do with the fact that the governments of Germany and Japan routinely renew their security agreements with the U.S.” Did you set out to debunk the notion of “democracy?”

            1. Paul

              There are plenty of issues in the U.S. which are popular nationally, but unpopular locally in some places.

              1. OIFVet

                Which is why regionalism is true democracy. In case you haven’t noticed, this is the issue driving the Novorussians.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    Over an election outcome with rules in use for over 60 years without interuption. In case, you didn’t notice Southern Congressmen weren’t removed by Northern Congressmen. James Buchanan ended his term by the proscribed Constitutional order.

                    Try again. If you aren’t an American, I would forgive your ignorance.

                  2. hunkerdown

                    So, Paul, hostage taking is okay as long as it’s the bourgeoisie doing it. Well, any question about your allegiances can be “disposed of” now.

          2. Christopher Dale Rogers


            So my analysis is a straw man without merit. Well it may disturb you, but both Nazis Germany and Japan were vanquished powers, both had to accept “unconditional” surrender in 1945 and both were occupied by the victors after WWII – in the case of Germany, France, the USSR, the USA and UK, in the case of Japan, only the USA, despite the fact that both the USA and UK Commonwealth were at war in the Far East with Japan.

            Now, do you really think that the USA and the US State Department would allow anti-American governments to actually run Germany or Japan – you have compliant governments, but this is changing. However, unlike in the Philippines, the USA is still ensconced in Japan and in Germany – now the UK’s Army on the Rhine has been disbanded, and have a US military presence may be agreeable to some in both Japan and Germany, and yes, both countries have treaties with the USA, treaties that favour the USA. Now, lets go look at the Ukraine, Russia’s hugs losses in the Ukraine during WWII and its military presence in the Crimea, which has been long and extensive. Now please answer, is this similar to the USA presence in Japan and Germany, or different – history suggests its different.

            I can also discuss at length the treaties signed by the UK with the USA with regards US bases on UK ground, these bases being effectively US territory, much like an Embassy is treated, accept a Embassy does not have nuclear weapons contained their in. Now, things changed after the end of the Cold War, what has not changed is the fact that the USA still perceives Russia under Putin as a threat, hence US bases in Germany – but, lets suppose for one instance what would happen if a German administration wanted the USA to remove its bases and its nuclear weapons – this has been explored in the UK by the playwright David Hare and it did not play out well for the demonised leftwing government in his play, for obvious reasons, namely, it would be against US interests, and sadly US interests are paramount as far s the USA is concerned – just a shame your government cares little about the average Joe in your country. Such is life!

      3. James Levy

        So, we should go to war with Russia? I mean, all in, H-bombs, megatons, overkill, the lot? If not, then what the fuck are you saying? And what if the Ukrainian government, given the 5 billion Nuland said the US spent to get it into power, is a proxy army of the US? Isn’t that as likely as the separatists being a proxy army of Russia? And do you imagine that Russia is somehow going to roll into Europe any time soon? With what forces? She would need about 2 million well armed and properly supplied troops with a logistics tail like you wouldn’t believe to move against Poland, Hungary, and Germany. And what about those Germans? Didn’t they attack Russia in 1914 and again in 1941? Might the Russians be a little wary of the German Chancellor dictating terms and conditions to Ukraine, given the history of Germany coveting Ukraine–or have you never heard of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?

        The anti-Russians can’t answer a single question. They just KNOW the Russians are EVIL and must be stopped (or preferably, destroyed). It’s insane bigotry, nothing less. Just like the bigotry one sees in the MSM directed against Arabs.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You really need to do your homework on this. Bush the Senior and Gorby agreed that in return for the USSR allowing the Warsaw pact nations to go free, the US would not move NATO into former Warsaw pact states. The US almost immediately started repudiating this deal under Clinton. George Kennan, a diehard cold warrior, said this was the biggest foreign policy mistake the US ever made.

          The US destabilized the democratically elected government. The US is supplying the Ukrainians. Look at a map. It was the US that started it and the US that escalated this. And there is absolutely no way that the Russia wants to possess eastern Ukraine (it’s an economic albatross) but it does not want it under the domination of a clearly hostile, puppet government.

          The Russians are not “fighting a dirty war”. Ukraine is in the midst of a civil war, in case you missed that. At most, and we don’t know precisely how much, Russia is providing material and intel to the separatists.

          1. susan the other

            George Kennan was clearheaded until the very end and he lived to be over 100, I think. I’m sorry there are so few like him. Paul Craig Roberts is one of the few. He’s disgusted by our stance against Russia and all our war mongering right now. Ukraine really isn’t worth all this mayhem. So there has got to be a hidden agenda, imo. Both the Ukrainian collection of fascists, both domestic and continent wide, and ISIS are so blood thirsty-brutal it is a sea change in international extortion. ‘Why’ is the big question. And Israel not pretending to care any longer about human rights is now even intimidating it’s own protestors.

            1. Fiver

              Good point re the nature of the violence – I think the US lifted the lid off Pandora’s Box when it adopted the neocon view that everything was a potential US vital interest, and no means too terrible to ensure that fact understood.

      4. Abe, NYC

        I don’t agree with everything in John’s post, but as Tom Engelhardt wrote the other day, it’s so easy to forget just how dangerous the USSR was. Some countries and regions which the US took under its wing – Europe, Japan, Korea, some others – did very well in large part thanks to the USA’s protection. Many others whom the US tried to “help” were not nearly as lucky. It’s no coincidence that the public opinion of Russia in Eastern Europe is in many ways similar to the feeling towards USA in Latin America.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You need to adjust your time frames. The US now is not the US of the 1940s and 1950s, nor is Russia the USSR. Russia, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points out, has an economy the size of California. And by sponsoring a neoliberal approach to it post the dissolution, we had a direct hand in the looting and the rise of oligarchs and strong men. Putin happens to be our creation, albeit a generation removed from the original impetus.

          As for the US “helping”, let’s turn to Japan. Japan is a military protectorate of the US. We told them to deregulate their banks radically in the early 1980s to make the world safer for US investment banks. I can tell you having worked with and then for Sumitomo Bank, which was widely considered the best managed and most sophisticated Japanese bank, that this was tantamount to telling the operators of a drayage company that they were really in the transportation business, and giving them a 747 to fly. Leverage had always been very high in the Japanese banking system, but they had gotten away with it because they did very tame banking. Deregulation led them to make far more riskier loans and the banks pretty quickly all drove themselves over a cliff.

          So much for US friendship, post 1980.

          1. Abe, NYC

            John’s comment referred to the past 70 years, so did mine (and I didn’t agree with everything). I totally agree in the last 20 years US intervention did far more harm than good.

            1. Fiver

              Please note that the first 50 of those years featured an almost entirely defensive power that could act as counter-weight to total US dominance. It is precisely the USSR to which the middle and working classes of the ‘West’ owed the far more fair apportioning of wealth and power than is the case today – after 20 years of US global dominance, the US social order has been more profoundly damaged than any since the Civil War. It stands in danger of becoming so top-heavy economically it simply falls over.

              You are so profoundly wrong.

        2. Banger

          Well, I have looked into it and the USSR was not as powerful as the Cold Warriors suggested. I claim that their power and pugnacity was mainly invented in order to further the interest of the MIC. Where there elements within the USSR that were hard-liners? Yes, in fact they ousted Khrushchev precisely because he and Kennedy were well underway to ending the Cold War when had-liners in the Washington establishment ended JFKs attempts. One has only to read the rather beautiful prose in the correspondence between the two leaders to get a feeling about their attitudes.

          There simply is too much money and power to be had by stoking fears. The Cold War could have ended very quickly but oligarchs on both sides benefitted. If you trust the official Narrative you are a bit foolish.

  8. Carolinian

    Perhaps this should be in regular Links but some interesting info on the air insurance angle.

    It says the underwriters have the power to forbid airlines from flying in areas where they might be shot down but didn’t do so in this case. There’s also this amazing tidbit:

    The crashes of Flight 370 and Flight 17 are not Malaysia Airlines’ first unusual insurance claims, however. The airline had an unusual claim in 2000 for the total loss of an Airbus A330 traveling in the opposite direction on the same route as Flight 370.

    In that case, a canister of a mysterious Chinese shipment destined for Iran broke open near the end of a trip from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur and began leaking, producing a smell that prompted the captain to conduct an emergency evacuation upon landing of all 266 people aboard. A subsequent investigation found that the hold was contaminated beyond cleaning with mercury and other chemicals that may have been precursors for the manufacture of nerve gas.

    The Malaysian government ended up digging a large hole in the ground near the airport tarmac and burying the entire plane. Insurers paid a full settlement of $90 million.

      1. hunkerdown

        Have they got Al Franken on board yet? (Would it be irresponsible to mention Paul Wellstone in this context?)

    1. Brindle

      Interesting read—somethings are obviously lost in translation, but the situation of the Rebels is precarious and one wonders how long their mostly guerrilla style strategy can go on—maybe a lot longer than people think.

  9. Bunk McNulty

    “And to be ugly about it, if the rebels shot the plane down, it shouldn’t matter very much except as a horrible and unexpected catastrophe in a war zone and an overwhelming tragedy to the survivors of the victims on board. Call it an accident, collateral damage, manslaughter, there is no credible version of events in which it was intentional mass murder or terrorism, either by the rebels or Russian technicians…”

    While we’re busy ginning up WWIII (or is it IV? I’ve lost count), can we keep this in mind? (BTW, what is “ugly” about this? No matter which side did the shooting, it was unintentional fa chrissakes.

    1. OIFVet

      “BTW, what is “ugly” about this?” It is ugly because it was mostly Westerners who were killed. The killing of Westerners, intentional or unintentional, by non-Westerners is always ugly. Only Westerners can kill Westerners, by austerity for example. The killing of non-Westerners, for example the killing of Novorussian civilians by the Kiev junta’s indiscriminate artillery bombardment, is “measured response” (per Psaki). Slavic lives are cheap like that, as are Muslim lives, and brown and black people’s lives.

    2. Abe, NYC

      It is Russia that’s fanning the war and supplying the insurgents with materiel and personnel. No-one believes Putin’s assurances to the contrary – not Russians, not Americans, not Ukrainians.

      Not only that, as Russian historian and journalist Nikolai Svanidze put it, at this point if Putin cuts support to the insurgents that spells his political death at home while if he doesn’t that spells political death of Russia since it’s going to turn into a pariah state. He’s painted himself into a corner.

      1. OIFVet

        How dare they fan the flames of a proxy war that we instigated. ” Unable or unwilling to directly confront its main antagonists – Russia and Iran –Washington has turned to cold war era tactics (and rhetoric), using proxies to fight wars they don’t dare fight on their own. In Libya, and now Syria, the US used its supposedly tame jihadists to overturn secular Arab leaders who didn’t follow Washington’s orders willingly. The big problem with their efforts to recruit suitable proxies, however, is that quality control is lacking.” But its ok when we do it, because we are America. American exceptionalism is truly despicable, it flies in the face of reality to justify American aggression by dressing it in the respectable image of selfless do-gooder heroically struggling with the forces of evil and oppression everywhere in order to give the natives the gift of American-style “freedom and democracy,” terms straight out of Newspeak for all of us who can see the ugly reality under the attractive packaging. It is therefore to be confronted everywhere and anywhere its disseminators pop up.

      2. Christopher Dale Rogers

        @Abe NYC,

        You seem to have a bugbear with both Putin and Russia, so to undermine your thesis a little I utilise this little gem of an example. Between 1969-1998 the USA via means of its Irish-background citizens was actively funding the IRA/Provisional IRA and numerous other Irish Republican nationalist groups, this despite the UK be a close ally of the USA. Now, do I blame the USA for funding Irish Nationalist terrorism by stint of the fact they did little to stem the flow of money – money laundering only becoming an international concern in 1985, do I blame the actual fund givers themselves, or do i apportion blame to the IRA for the killings they themselves carried out?

        Just asking, but its horses for courses and smell quite a bit of hypocrisy in your comment – if the USA upheld its supposed “virtues”, you know the virtues so many average American’s believe in, fair enough, that the USA is probably worse than Russia under Putin seems beyond doubt. In the UK we had a word for this, namely “gunboat diplomacy”, whereby if a UK citizen at the height of our Imperial prowess was harmed overseas, retribution was swift, and this also was applied to UK business interests as witnessed by two “opium wars” in the nineteenth century, both of which in my humble opinion were rather shocking, but greedy buggers are different from me and see no shame.

        1. Abe, NYC

          Please note that I was talking about Russia and did not say anything at all about the USA or UK.

          I have translated Svanidze’s article, which I think is highly pertinent, and will post it shortly.

        2. Paul

          You sure are wordy.

          Basically, your response is “But but but but… the U.S. did something bad before!!!!”

          Not a valid argument. Both situations may be wrong. We’re talking about Ukraine. Stay on topic.

          1. OIFVet

            Indeed, in the age of the sound bite complex issues must be addressed in 10 seconds or less.

            1. Paul

              Too many words obscures his argument, and I do not consider his argument to be a valid one.

              1. OIFVet

                Then you must truly hate the Federalist Papers and Plato’s Republic, among others. You exemplify the model citizen of this day and age: anything over 160 characters is just too hard to process, and the governments like that. Lord forbid the citizenry begins to look for answers outside the simple narrative put out in the corporate MSM.

                1. Paul

                  I was trying not to insult the poster, but you’re determined to hear me out. Fine. I regard his comment as mostly strutting around like an infernal peacock.

                  1. OIFVet

                    That’s fine, but I fail to see the part where you address the content of his comment. Hint: it usually takes more than 160 characters. This ain’t Twitter.

              2. Christopher Dale Rogers


                It seems to me you have issues with comparative analysis, and we can only come to a given conclusion via comparing and analysing matters – now, if I was an economist, I could just make it up, but historians have to extrapolate from known facts and said facts can be interpreted in different ways, but one things for sure, the facts themselves do not change.

          2. Banger

            Every one has done something “bad” before. What we are looking for here is not just who benefits but also pattern and context. If you lack that understanding you will happily agree with the mainstream narrative which I suggest to you is only right by accident since these outlets are political not informational outlets.

          3. hunkerdown

            Actually, this isn’t a salon debate, but a criminal investigation of sorts. MO is absolutely informative to such investigations.

            Who are you protecting?

        3. Vatch

          Well, we’re veering a bit off topic, but I think that the IRA donors, the U.S. government officials who failed to try to stop the money laundering, and the actual IRA bombers all deserve to share the blame.

          The opium wars were most definitely shocking. They were an early example of drug lordism.

        4. FederalismForever

          @Christopher Dale Rogers. The answer to the question at the end of your first paragraph is: Yes, you should apportion blame to all three, with the largest portion, by far, going to the persons who did the actual killings, and only a tiny, minuscule portion to the U.S. itself. Happy to help!

          Also, per your reference to the dastardly opium wars, let me ask: if you think China was within its rights to take actions against Britain for launching these opium wars against Chinese citizens, isn’t the U.S. within its rights to take actions against all of the Latin American countries that have made so much by selling so many illegal and highly addictive drugs to U.S. citizens?

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers

            In a nutshell to your question, NO. the British were infringing on Chinese sovereign territory and profiting hugely from the sale of Indian produced opium – the Chinese had a right to protect their citizens from the British on their sovereign territory. I was not aware that Mexican drug lords were actually the government of Mexico, although I’m aware that many US banks like laundering money associated with the drugs trade and that your security services are also involved in the drugs trade, But here’s a thought, why no just legalise the drugs and sell them from a Chemist shop, this is what they do in Portugal and the results have been very good in numerous ways. Perhaps we should turn our attention to Alcohol, which I believe kills more in the USA than illegal drugs from your southern flank.

          2. James Levy

            By that logic then Putin can only be held to a miniscule extent responsible if this turns out to have been done by the separatists. You do realize that’s what you said, don’t you?

            1. FederalismForever

              Not necessarily. CDR’s example involved the U.S. funding IRA activities “via means of its Irish-background citizens.” This is consistent with no U.S. government official or agency even having any direct knowledge of it occurring. Hence, we apportion only a tiny portion of the blame to the U.S. government. The jury is still out on the degree of Putin’s knowledge/culpability w/r/t the separatists. Hence, the amount of blame we apportion to Putin is still unknown.

              1. Christopher Dale Rogers

                May I ask what you are smoking, the reason for this enquiry, when I gave the example of USA citizens providing both funds and arms to the IRA, this actually equates to Russian citizens in Russian giving aid to there Slav peers in the Ukraine. With regards the USA and the IRA, you seem to forget that your authorities, including your security services were fully aware what was going on and they did “fuck all” about it. and one of the reasons for doing nothing is the fact that the Irish vote is a big electoral bloc in the USA, further, as with the USA itself, it was deemed correct for the Irish to want to get rid of their colonial overlord – look at your own history man.

                The fact remains that the bulk of the IRA’s funding came from the USA – if this was not the case, then prey tell inform me why during the peace process Clinton had a role and that Blair called on Clinton on many occasions to assist with communicating with the IRA and reining in the USA. To put it blunt during most of my life living in the UK the IRA was active in bombing the UK mainland, not only this, but I was less than one mile away from one bomb that exploded in the early 90’s. Now, do I blame the USA for carrying out that bomb attack, or those that planted said bomb?

      3. Doug Terpstra

        It sounds like you’ve been reading the wildly wishful speculation in the Stratfor link by George Friedman. He seems to think Putin is teetering on the brink, when his approval at home has never been higher. In fact no US president’s numbers have ever been higher here. Putin is surging while Obama is sinking. He’s playing a very strong hand to Obama’s empty bluff.

      4. Fiver

        “…put it, at this point if Putin cuts support to the insurgents that spells his political death at home while if he doesn’t that spells political death of Russia since it’s going to turn into a pariah state.”

        The fact that Russia was not turning into a pariah state, or anything close, is possibly the reason the Ukraine ATC directed the plane into a very hot war zone. That the logs were confiscated by Ukrainian security, with no subsequent comment or handover to international authorities is one of the central questions in this event.

        In any event, it has surely been a miracle for the regime in Kiev and Obama and the entire war industry. Mission accomplished on that front. No matter what the evidence is, the verdict is already in so far as the official US stance and media history is concerned. And if not this time, next time. The US is determined to push Russia and China until they pop. US leadership has gone out of its way to create enormous instability in order to achieve its goals. There are other candidates for ‘pariah’ State far more worthy than Russia. A continued, explicit, insane US policy, or rather, Imperial Dictum to destabilize or incorporate any potential competitor dooms us all to nightmare and collapse fighting each other rather than for our future as a species and living planet. No more stupid games when the real stakes are very, very high.

    3. DiogenesTheC

      Are you sure it was unintentional?

      Yes, the scenario implicating the Donetsians is that the shootdown was accidental “collateral damage”, resulting from over-enthusiastic attempts to bring down Kievian air transports and/or fighter-bombers. There are a number of proposed ways this might have happened. One explanation is that MH17’s escort by SU25 jets was a ploy for the Kievian SU25 to hide near a civilian plane to prevent a Donetsian missile attack, which occurred anyway and went wrong.

      However, the scenario implicating the Kievians is a false flag operation to discredit the Donetsians, which would necessarily be intentional. If the Kievians were operating anti-aircraft missiles, it sure wasn’t to hobble Donetsian air power.
      First, there really isn’t a benign explanation for why the Kievians would have a use for activating the Buk system that the Russians claimed to have observed. (It is possible that Kievians were trying bring down a cross-border Russian jet, but there weren’t many, if any, of those). What was the planned target?
      Second, we encounter anomalies like the supposedly intercepted conversation between Russian advisors and Donetsian missile operators, which was not only discredited, but found to have been created with foreknowledge a day ahead of the crash. There’s also the curious case of Carlos the Deleted, the Spanish air traffic controller whose twitter account disappeared after he reported that orders were given to bring MH17 into a hazard zone (along with other strange events at the Kievian air traffic center).
      Third, explanations of Kievian behavior are sparse. Why and how MH17 was brought into an unusual path isn’t discussed. Search General Antonov’s 10 questions, so far answered by silence. But mainly, we have the case of thedog that didn’t bark: US intelligence, from either the Black Sea drills, nor satellite photos from the National Reconnaissance Office (the US’ huge heavily funded spy organization) are being kept under wraps.

      Opacity and blatant propaganda only reinforces the likelihood of the second scenario.

      BTW, I use “Kievians” and “Donetsians” since Ukraine currently has no legitimate government on its soil.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Good point on the dog that doesn’t bark, but there are two dogs (at least) who haven’t barked. Both the US and Russia surely have the whole airspace wired. So who barks first? Maybe neither? There’s probably something in Machiavelli or High Stakes Poker: Maybe neither side knows what the other side really has?

  10. Gantal

    We do know that only two governments have ever used SAMs to shoot down commercial planes, that both governments lied about it until the evidence overwhelmed them, and that they both paid compensation to the 400+ victims. In 1988, the US Navy deliberately shot down Iranian Airlines Flight 655 over the Strait of Hormuz. In 2001, the Ukrainian Army downed Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 during live fire exercises. (In 1996 the Navy also apparently brought down TWA Flight 800 off the East Coast).
    Just saying’…

    1. Paul

      I wasn’t aware that the U.S. lied about the downing of the Iranian airline. Are you sure about that? It was a long time ago, so I could be misremembering.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry, the members of the crew. Typing while talking on the phone and discussing pilots. I once put “Argentina” every place in a client report instead of “Venezuela” because I was playing Evita while writing up the document. Fortunately, I sent a draft to some folks at the client and they caught the error. That was the end of playing anything with lyrics while drafting.

      1. JCC

        They lied about it for years until dragged into an international court and only then, after being found guilty, they finally admitted that it happened and then, and only then, agreed to reparations (the USS Vincennes was the ship and the Captain and crew members were given medals for bravery). The command claimed they mistook it for a diving Iranian F-4 attack even though the sister US ship, the USS Sides, and an Italian Navy ship nearby both said it looked to them like a climbing passenger plane. The Captain of the Sides called it a horrifying climax to the other Captain’s aggressiveness.

        When asked about an apology once we admitted it, Bush flat out refused saying in so many words that no US President owes an apology to anybody for anything. Meanwhile, back here at the ranch, we are demanding apologies from Putin, even though there is no definitive proof (yet?) that Russia had anything to do with it.

        My momma used to always say to me when I whined about something, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” But here in America we do not EVER follow the rules our mothers taught us because, I suppose, that might make us unexceptional.

    2. fresno dan

      from the Mish (Michael Shedlock) link

      Contrary to the accounts of various USS Vincennes crewmembers, the Vincennes’ shipboard Aegis Combat System recorded that the Iranian airliner was climbing at the time and its radio transmitter was “squawking” on the Mode III civilian code only, rather than on military Mode II. The Vincennes tried unsuccessfully to contact the approaching aircraft, seven times on the military emergency frequency and three times on the civilian emergency frequency, but never on air traffic control frequencies. This civilian aircraft was not equipped to pick up military frequencies and the messages on the civilian emergency channel could have been directed at any aircraft.

      When questioned in a 2000 BBC documentary, the U.S. government stated in a written answer that they believed the incident may have been caused by a simultaneous psychological condition amongst the 18 bridge crew of the Vincennes called ‘scenario fulfillment’, which is said to occur when persons are under pressure. In such a situation, the men will carry out a training scenario, believing it to be reality while ignoring sensory information that contradicts the scenario. In the case of this incident, the scenario was an attack by a lone military aircraft.

      George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time commented on the incident during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988): “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

      Even more than the “contrary” accounts (purposeful lying – I would say yes, but I would acknowledge that people lie to themselves often – it would be very hard to live with being responsible for killing near 400 innocent people.

      More interesting to me is the elder Bush statement about not apologizing in spite of the facts – which just shows how low people can go in search of votes (OH, and campaign contributions).

      But the hypocrisy is hard to bear – we KNOW America killed innocent civilians….some money is paid….and nothing happens. You listen to the war mongers and its pretty apparent that innocent civilians from a country we don’t like are of little value, especially when we blew them out of the sky, but if innocent civilians are killed somewhere near a country we don’t like, with uncertain evidence, that can be ginned into justification for sanctions, and endless proclamations of our virtue and Russia’s evil – well,…..USA! USA! USA!!!!!

    3. Lexington

      We do know that only two governments have ever used SAMs to shoot down commercial planes

      On September 1 1983 a Soviet fighter shot down Korean Airlines flight 007 over the Sea of Japan.

      So they used a manned interceptor instead of SAM. The only difference is the pilot of the interceptor knew he was shooting down a civilian aircraft while the SAMs didn’t.

      1. JCC

        I was in the Army stationed in Seoul at the time. The entire city shut down for a week, no lights at night, ready for the balloon to go up. And let me tell you it is really weird living in a city much larger than NYC in every way, and totally absolutely dark at night. We slept, in BDUs, with our rifles that entire week. Scary stuff. It was a close one.

        To the best of my knowledge there have been 7 downed passenger planes in the last 30 or 40 years. We got one, The Russians got one, but the Ukrainians, rebels or otherwise, are the clear winners. The have two notches in their guns so far.

      2. OIFVet

        Are you absolutely sure that the pilot knew better? “Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the U.S. presentation were false.

        The Soviet fighter pilot apparently did believe he was pursuing a U.S. spy plane, according to the intercepts, and he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. At the instructions of Soviet ground controllers, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to force the aircraft down. The pilot said he fired warning shots, too. “This comment was also not on the tape we were provided,” Snyder wrote.

        It was clear to Snyder that in the pursuit of its Cold War aims, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. To these Republicans, the ends of smearing the Soviets had justified the means of falsifying the historical record.”

        1. Lexington

          Are you absolutely sure that the pilot knew better?

          Absolutely sure? No. There aren’t many things I’m absolutely sure of.

          However in 1996 the pilot who shot down KAL 007 told the New York Times he knew the aircraft was a civilian 747, though he also said that didn’t prove it wasn’t on a spying mission.

  11. DakotabornKansan

    “Government remains the paramount area of folly because it is there that men seek power over others – only to lose it over themselves.” – Barbara W. Tuchman – The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

    The role of folly, foolish leadership producing disaster, is an unlearned lesson for many today.

    Very smart people in power – the best and the brightest – by disregarding the lessons from history can do very stupid things:

    “For the ruler it is easier, once he has entered a policy box, to stay inside. For the lesser official it is better, for the sake of his position, not to make waves, not to press evidence that the chief will find painful to accept. Psychologists call the process of screening out discordant information ‘cognitive dissonance,’ an academic disguise for ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts.’ Along the way, cognitive dissonance causes alternatives to be deselected since even thinking about them entails conflicts.”

    “In its first stage, mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem. In the second stage, when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify. This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and re-thinking and a change of course are possible, but they are rare as rubies in a backyard. Rigidifying leads to increase of investment and the need to protect egos; policy founded upon error multiplies, never retreats. The greater the investment and the more involved in it the sponsor’s ego, the more unacceptable is disengagement.”
    – Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

    Hubris gets many of our so-called leaders into trouble. And we the people, in our customary position at the bottom of the many hills, bear the brunt of all the shit that rolls downhill.

  12. James Levy

    The baleful illogic of blaming this on Putin is astounding. There is no way that this serves his interests, and as his enemies endlessly point out (correctly), he is an amoral Machiavellian operator out for his and his nation’s interest. It is also illogical to think that he had anything to do with the decision-making process involved here. Even if, as is most likely, some separatist battery commander saw a target of opportunity (presumably a Ukrainian government transport bringing supplies to their at that time beleaguered front) and shot it down, that has almost nothing to do with Putin, unless the US wants to take direct responsibility for the use of every weapon it has handed over or sold to about 100 different countries over the last few decades. And why was it that when our “greatest military every” shot down an Iranian Airbus and killed 290 people, that was an understandable accident, but when a far less sophisticated bunch of rebels do it, it’s deliberate, premeditated murder?

    This is all an exercise in anti-Russian propaganda and an attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Europe. American foreign policy since 1945 has been to keep Russia isolated and Europe subordinate. As Ambassador Nuland said, the US pumped 5 billion dollars into Ukraine to make sure that the “right” government wound up in power there. Now, US policy is to prop up Ukraine and demonize the Russian-backed separatists. Which, of course, leads to the most obvious answer to the question “cui bono”–if the Ukrainian government shot down the plane and could blame it on the rebels, then that would be a huge bonus for them. The rebels and the Russians, on the other hand, get nothing from this disaster but headaches and a black eye. So where is the US spy satellite data confirming who is responsible? Or are we to believe that military operations over there are not under US government scrutiny? They collect every website that anyone anywhere visits, but don’t watch the Ukrainian borderland to monitor the fighting and see what the Russians are up to? Spare me. The whole narrative being fed the media by the Obama Administration (and being lapped up like warm milk) is sour and stinks to high heaven. The reality (if American and Russian propaganda will ever allows us to discern it) will prove more prosaic, and sad. Because those airline passengers should be alive today, but aren’t. Their deaths are now a geostrategic football, which is just nauseating and depressing. But such is how the Great Game is played.

    1. fresno dan

      I think your logic is pretty sound. But what I have come to learn, maybe because I am too enamored of facts and logic, is that a good portion of people will believe the government, or country, or president – call it what you will – with no critical examination of the situation.
      And in the “exceptional” country, that vary designator inhibits thinking….

  13. Petey

    “in practice, the news is thick on speculation and thin on evidence. And the rush to assign blame before all the facts are in”


    Y’know, you could just read Brown Moses for open-source info clearly implicating Russia. There really isn’t any question here. (Unless you think he’s part of some conspiracy too, and faking his evidence.)

    On the broader point, I’ve been religiously reading this site since 2008 on a daily basis. I’ve adored your appearances on Harry Shearer. I agree with you on 95+% of the economic viewpoints you espouse and promote.

    On non-economics, I opposed the Iraq war, support Snowden, and oppose a substantial amount of the Obama administration foreign policy.

    But the psychotic and evidence-free pro-Putin viewpoint of the site, led by Lambert, who whatever other value he provides to the site, is absolutely loony-tunes on the topic, make me wonder about your judgment, Yves.

    Again, long-term fan of your work and the site, but finding it harder and harder to click here in the mornings due to Lambert’s execrable pro-Putin stance. I’m not a fan of fascist propaganda with my coffee.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      There is no need to read “Brown Moses,” whatever or whoever that is, so don’t worry about not having provided a link.

      The US Government has done it for us and is providing the Cliff’s Notes via the NYT, WaPo, et al.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Here is a link since Petey did not provide one:

        Brown Moses and “new media”; same as the old media

        A glaring example of one of the major pitfalls emerging in supposed “new media” has arisen during the conflict in Syria. Most notably in the form of YouTube blogger, and self-proclaimed weapons expert Eliot Higgins, aka “Brown Moses”. […]

        Following award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s groundbreaking essay in the London Review of Books, which exposes the Obama administrations intelligence surrounding the alleged chemical attacks in Ghouta as reminiscent of the Bush administrations outright lies and fabrications leading to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Higgins took it upon himself to rush through a rebuttal, published by the establishment media outlet Foreign Policy magazine – a predictable response as Higgins represents the principal source for the “Assad did it” media crowd.

        1. fresno dan

          thanks for that.
          until you know where someone has sat, you won’t know where they stand….

    2. peteybee

      Hey, another Petey, sweet.

      Just for contrast, I’d say in recent years the US government, has actually made up basically unfounded stories to whip up public support for various wars and whatnot. Syria and Iraq (both times actually) come to mind, just to name the obvious examples, but it goes deeper. The NeoConservatives are still running our foreign policy by the way.

      Also in the current crisis, consider that the USG is directly relaying Ukranian claims. What makes you think the Ukranian government is more credible than the Russian one? Who is more fascist, the Ukranians or the Russians? It’s an interesting question.

        1. fresno dan

          “I’d say in recent years the US government, has actually made up basically unfounded stories to whip up public support for various wars and whatnot.”

          Gulf of Tonkin……
          I have also read about made stuff with regard to the Philippines, WWI, Korea, and so on.
          The more you know about government, the less you trust it…

          1. Ned Ludd

            Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!

            Headlines from William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal:

            Assistant Secretary Roosevelt Convinced the Explosion of the War Ship Was Not an Accident.

            Naval Officers Unanimous That the Ship Was Destroyed on Purpose.


            Remember the Maine

            On February 15, 1898, a mysterious explosion destroyed the American battleship Maine in Havana Harbor and helped propel the United States into a war with Spain. The USS Maine was in Cuba, officially, on a mission of friendly courtesy and, incidentally, to protect American lives and property in the event that Cuba’s struggle for independence from Spain might escalate into full-blown warfare. “Yet,” writes author Tom Miller, “the visit was neither spontaneous nor altruistic; the United States had been eyeing Cuba for almost a century.” […]

            The American press was quick to point to an external explosion–a mine or torpedo–as the cause of the tragedy. An official U.S. investigation agreed. On April 25, 1898, Congress formally declared war on Spain. By summer’s end, Spain had ceded Cuba, along with the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam, to the United States.

            In 1976, Adm. Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy mounted yet another investigation into the cause of the Maine disaster. His team of experts found that the ship’s demise was self- inflicted–likely the result of a coal bunker fire.

            1. fresno dan

              Ned Ludd
              July 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

              Thank you for the details….
              I forgot the Maine!….but I have a good excuse, I have gotten old and my brain is like Swiss cheese….

        2. peteybee


          I actually don’t think that’s true at the moment. But we are moving in that direction, unmistakably. And the movement is getting faster. A country like this has a lot of momentum when changes happen. The time to stop it is now. In another 10 years it might be too late.

    3. Banger

      Evidence free? You mean some of us stray from the mainstream Narrative which, in my view, is largely evidence free. I think this all depends on your view of history and the structure of political arrangements in the world. Let’s look at the treatment of Russia since the fall of the USSR. Take a look at what happened when U.S. consultants went to Moscow soon thereafter–what did they do? Did they seek to restructure the economy there to benefit the society? No, they encouraged oligarchs and organized crime to take over and came back to Washington DC and built mansions all over the DC metro area. Putin came on board and tried to retake the country from domination of the oligarchs and organized crime (and I’m sure made all kinds of dirty deals and who knows what) and, rightfully, displayed displeasure at the U.S. and its NATO satellites or expanding NATO missile sites as close as possible to Russia thereby breaking the agreement made by Bush the Elder with Gorbachev. Can you blame Putin for being a little worried about the whole “full-spectrum dominance” idea that motivates U.S. policy today?

      You, probably, still believe like most leftists in American Exceptionalism–that “mistakes were made” and “incompetence” are at the heart of U.S. military adventures when the real evidence points to the further engorgement of the Military Industrial Complex. BTW, for a stunningly clear picture of the power of the MIC just look at the history of the F-35. The MIC doesn’t care if the damn thing works, just like they didn’t care if U.S. stated goals in Iraq worked or whether or not the subject of this discussion goes one way or the other–their goal is chaos and war everywhere. The fact is that the Ukraine situation, like the Iraq situation was always ready to be resolved through negotiations. The Maidan coup was a coup and it was clearly engineered by the U.S. intel assets in the region just as the CIA has done countless times over its history which, I guess, you are afraid to look into.

    4. Brindle

      Your use of ad hominems is a giveaway that you can’t argue your case on the merits.
      A weak, embarrassing effort.

    5. OIFVet

      ” I’m not a fan of fascist propaganda with my coffee.” One can infer that you consume MSM fascist propaganda after you’ve had your morning coffee.

    6. Carolinian

      The issue isn’t pro-Putin but hypocrisy. Many of the people attacking him have much less to say about the dubious character of the Ukrainian oligarchs or the bloody minded Netanyahu. What they are peddling is not information but advocacy. On that level those of us on the sidelines can only ask who is being more reasonable here: the United States with its meddling in a faraway region of the world or Putin who does, after all, have legitimate concerns when it comes to NATO intentions and who leads a country in that part of the world. The answer seems obvious to me. If you don’t agree, fine. I’m not sure what NC has to do with that. Your complaint seems to be that most of the people here don’t agree with you.

      1. Paul

        Your argument is like saying, if you are for the Palestinians, why are you not for the Ukrainians, which are the underdog vs. Russia. They are two different situations. People arrive to different conclusions about different situations.

        Talk of hypocrisy is a redirection from the topic.

        1. OIFVet

          Oh please, enough with the strawman. The US sponsors Ukraine, using it as a proxy against Russia.

        2. James Levy

          If Russia invades and starts bombing the shit out of Ukraine, I will back an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. I have the same opinion of Israel and the occupied territories. If the Palestinians cross the border and invade Israel, I will continue to hold the same opinion. But the government in Kiev is an instrument of a hostile United States on the border of Russia, and pro-Russian federalist/separatists and fighting a war (with Russia’s backing) against that government. The ultimate underdogs are the separatists, who are outnumbered, outgunned, and don’t have Uncle Sam and the IMF bankrolling them. This does not make them “good guys”, but if you want to play the underdog card, the separatists are at the bottom of the pack.

        3. C

          I think my comment is clear whereas yours is anything but. Who said anything about “the Ukrainians, which are the underdog vs. Russia”? I thought we were talking about the billionaire oligarchs (backed up by the world’s most powerful nation) versus Russia.

          At any rate I’m not making any kind of moral case for Putin, just saying that he, not those oligarchs or the US, is the one who is acting more reasonably.This particular situation is one where rationality needs to be at a high premium. Russia is not some banana republic that we can just kick around. Acting foolishly here will have many bad consequences.

      2. tiger

        the bloody minded Netanyahu

        If I suggest to you to replace Netanyahu with Assad, would it be ok with you, or do you think Assad is less bloody minded than Netanyahu? Just wanna make sure I understand here…

        1. Carolinian

          I’m saying that people who use morality to argue these questions are often masking other motives and are therefore hypocrites. Doubtless Assad is a tyrant but our intervention to overthrow him–on the basis of morality or “responsibility to protect”–seems to have made things much worse and in any case probably had nothing to do with morality at all. So for sure…Assad and Bibi….both “bloody minded.”

          Clear enough?

    7. tim s

      Petey, I’d point out that if this site, or any other (PCR comes to mind), may be making Putin look good can hardly avoid doing so. Putin is very fortunate in that his status on the world stage is increasing dramatically, not because he is a good guy, which is doubtful, but because those who are attacking him are are consistently shooting themselves in the foot and at best looking like idiots (the bumbling politician charade )and at worst proving to be the face of evil itself (coup d’etat, neo-nazi backers, slaughter, etc,etc). All he has to do is restrain himself from impulse reactions and point a finger at obvious cracks in the facade and he can be seen as a god. He’s done a pretty good job at this, given the intense pressure.

      But seriously, how much more ham-fisted could these western imperialists be? Of all of the signs of the decline of the west, one that is overlooked is just how bad those in power are at maintaining illusions, which they had great success with for the entire 2nd half of the past century. Their PR is just awful, and their false flags laughably obvious. Rank amateurs on the world stage, and now they are just becoming shrill in their desperation. Pathetic.

    8. Jackrabbit


      If you are indeed a long time reader then one would think that you have accumulated sufficient understanding to be deeply skeptical of TPTB. jgordon’s comment (above) reflects such an understanding, though he may be more skeptical than most.

      I find that those sites that question the official narrative generally have a few comments that declare the site to be ‘pro-Putin’. This is reminiscent of other pejorative labels used to impugn those who would question TPTB on other issues (e.g. “socialist!” = anyone that questions capitalist excess).

      H O P

    9. zzpig

      LMAO! You realize that Eliot Higgins AKA Brown Moses has ZERO military training, ZERO real world experience on weapons, and was unemployed and on the dole when he all of a sudden became a weapons expert? Here is a letter from Richard Lloyd and Ted Postol, both of whom are actual weapons experts, to the London Review of Books and what they have to say about Brown Moses:

      Jamie Allinson makes some false technical claims in his critique of Seymour Hersh (Letters, 8 May). What Hersh reports is entirely plausible, and consistent with facts that emerged from our more limited but irrefutable technical studies of the circumstances surrounding the nerve agent attack in Damascus on 21 August 2013. Our findings, which have become the basis for the ‘new’ arguments being made against Hersh by people like Allinson, and supposedly knowledgeable non-government organisations like Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, raise the most serious questions about whether the White House lied about technical intelligence associated with the attack.

      Allinson is correct that the improvised rockets he calls Volcanoes each contained about fifty litres of sarin, but wrong in his claim that they were fired from a regime-held area ‘to the north’. These claims are not original, but repeat those of Eliot Higgins, a blogger who, although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.

      Before we began reporting findings from our analyses, there were published reports estimating that the sarin load carried by the rockets was about five litres. We showed, from detailed engineering analyses of rocket debris, that the rockets contained as much as fifty litres. This finding was hailed by members of the US government and non-government organisations, such as Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, as proof that the Syrian government had executed the atrocity of 21 August. In a follow-up analysis, we found that it could not possibly have been the case that the deadly rockets were fired from Syrian government-controlled areas as far as ten kilometres away, as claimed by the US government and non-government organisations. We showed that the shape of the rockets resulted in extreme aerodynamic drag, limiting their range to about 2 to 2.5 kilometres. This finding was met with great resistance in the media.

      We also analysed the impact debris from the single rocket for which data was available (there is no data for multiple rocket impacts despite Allinson’s claim). We showed that those who argued that the Syrian government had fired the rockets had incorrectly determined the direction of arrival as being from the northwest. We showed that the actual direction was from the north. This new technical insight quickly prompted a new ‘discovery’. There was a checkpoint to the north, close to the area controlled by Syrian government forces, from which the deadly short-range rockets could have been launched. However, if they had been fired from this location, the impact pattern of the rockets used in the attack would have required them to have a range well in excess of five kilometres – which we have shown cannot be the case.

      We do not claim to know who was actually behind the attack of 21 August in Damascus. But we can say for sure that neither do the people who claim to have clear evidence that it was the Syrian government. The mainstream American media have done a disservice to the public by allowing politically motivated individuals, governments, and non-government organisations to misrepresent facts that clearly point to serious breaches of the truth by the White House.

      Richard Lloyd; Ted Postol
      Spokane, Washington; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

      1. fresno dan

        thanks for that additional information – very enlightening

        By the way everybody, it might be good idea to start putting down the poster’s name that you are responding to (I’ve just started NOW) – the indentation feature when there gets to be so many people involved in the string can make following the arguments and comments difficult to follow…

    10. Henry

      It does sound a bit harsh the way you put it, Petey, but I can’t help but to agree. I’ve been a semi-regular follower from around the same time (2008) when a Finnish political writer I admire, Tommi Uschanov, recommended this site in his footnotes to his pamphlet/book on the sorry state of the Left in Finland (Mikä vasemmistoa vaivaa, “What’s Wrong with the Left”). Since then I have pretty regularly browsed through the Links section if not at all times the rest of the stuff.

      Now, it’s just gotten too wacky regarding Ukraine especially, and I have a hard time trusting the other stuff, as well. I notice I have slowly started to drift away from following NC, so I guess this is a kind of a goodbye from me. Not that I expect you to really care about *me*, a anonymous reader, specifically. Maybe I hope this has some effect, though, and maybe NC will not devolve into one of those sad nutcase internet echo chambers, after all.

      1. Hobbes

        I’m of much the same mind, Henry. All the noise in comments regarding Ameria’s 70-year record as the globes’s most evil and successfully evil schemer: isn’t belief in this anti-imperialist narrative itself a form of American exceptionalism? Viz., no one is a better and bigger baddie than the US?

  14. Ned Ludd

    From “Of Planes and Proxies”:

    In Ukraine, where ethnic-Russian separatists have been waging a violent insurgency against the pro-Western government…

    Did the rebels attack Kiev? Which side is firing Grad rockets into civilian areas? Whose bombs “detonated in the courtyards of an apartment complex and a school, killing two men and one woman”?

    1. Carolinian

      That article shows how cowed the press is. You can remember bad things that the US did in the past but must toe the party line for the here and now.

        1. Carolinian

          The Putin hate is most curious. There was that spat about the anti-gay laws before the Olympics and that still seems to motivate some nominal leftie sites against him.

          I suspect it may have more to do with money. Reports say he is opposing some of the “Atlanticists” who want Russia to be more open to foreign investment (and exploitation).

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Putin has opposed Obama. It’s no different than “freedom fries.” Fox news was leading French boycotts. The U.S. is a fascist country. It’s an American style fascism, but between the propaganda elements and the mob/victim mentality so many citizens suffer, they will get worked up by anyone challenging American divine right.

            Two, Versailles is very unpopular, so they need a scapegoat. Since they aren’t that bright, the power elite are responding to the prejudices they developed as young people. In this case, much of the actual decision makers (45-55) were too young to see Vietnam and remember the propaganda from the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. As younger people don’t care because they have experience with the Iraq War, they will become more shrill.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            The worst part is Putin’s opposition in Syria probably saved American lives and prevented a renewed extremist interest against American targets. For pursuing policy in the interests of the U.S. if not directly, Putin must be punished for reminding everyone how terrible the U.S. government is and has been.

            Could you imagine the reaction to U.S. pilots being paraded through the streets of Damascus? Unlike Libya, the Allawites and Shiites have an interest in fighting. They wouldn’t give up after t he Iraq and Libya examples.

          3. hunkerdown

            Yes, and that’s where identity power-brokers like Dan Savage kick in. The Stranger is too coordinated with the MSM to be in the least “alt”.

        2. OIFVet

          From a comment under the Huffpo piece: ” There’s no evidence to throw the Ukrainian government into his murder accusation, but since he’s grieving it can be excused…” Can be excused? What a magnanimous douche.

          1. Ned Ludd

            “Thank you very much, Mr. Putin, separatist leaders and Ukrainian government! For murdering my sweet and only child,” Hans de Borst starts his letter, published on his Facebook page and in the Hart Van Nederland newspaper on Monday.

            Even though the letter is also addressed to the Ukrainian government, the Huffington Post headline targets Putin, and on the front page puts the headline under his picture.

              1. Brindle

                Arianna H. is a regular and promoter of the Aspen Institute—that haven for war criminals and Wall St con-men.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                Not really, Ariana was always a conservative thug. She just looked for an economic niche when the media went full right wing in 2000, and she couldn’t get on TV after her divorce made her the topic of gossip.

                And now it’s owned by Comcast.

              3. fresno dan

                Ned Ludd
                July 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

                It seems to me Huff Post was always just and ONLY a profit making venture – they follow the FOX plan of nominally identifying with an ideology, but not in any principled or coherent way. Likewise Huff Post used the “liberal” marketing demographic, but it will take whatever position it thinks gets it the most clicks and revenue. Truth, and any expenditures to determine and investigate what actually happened are not part of the plan….and are detrimental to the bottom line.
                Arianna didn’t get rich because God blessed her.

                1. Ned Ludd

                  Did you see Charles Pierce’s article about this year’s Netroots Nation?

                  There was more apparent interest in Building Your Brand than there was even in our old pal, the Keystone XL pipeline, which is coming down to the wire on its possible approval, and which has served — symbolically and every way else — to energize the environmental movement like nothing has since the first Earth Day. […]

                  CPAC was loud and noisy and fun. Netroots was simply dead-assed. One convention felt like a movement. The other felt like a trade show.

                  I do not think liberals stand for much of anything, anymore, except for their own image, status, and personal wealth. Obama issued an anti-abortion executive order enshrining the Hyde Amendment as part of the Democrats’ health insurance legislation, yet liberals and feminists applaud Obamacare. When Obama was opposed to gay marriage, liberals made excuses for him. Now that Obama is personally in favor of gay marriage but “believes states should decide the issue”, liberals are okay with this idea that states’ rights trump the right of gays to marry.

                  And liberals gin up enthusiasm for war whenever Obama wants one.

                  1. fresno dan

                    Ned Ludd
                    July 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

                    No, I haven’t read that article, but I will – thanks for the link. I think I know what I will find. I read a lot of conservative/libertarian sites as well, and they complain bitterly as well they the republican party really has no interest in adhering to any coherent ideology, other than saying whatever is necessary to win. And you can disagree with the “conservative” policy proposals, but its really just reduces our political system to all entertainment, and the real decisions come from the bankers.

                    As far as I can tell, the parties want to be in power ONLY as a source of ever more campaign contributions. After your political career you make millions as a speaker or consultant….

            1. OIFVet

              They excuses the mention of Ukraine due to the father’s grief and fixed the narrative for him. Plus it makes for such lovely inflaming sensationalism, perfect for propaganda purposes.

            2. ExtraT

              I removed HuffPorn bookmak from my browser long time ago. It is not reliable information source anylonger. In the best case, it is infotainment outlet, mixed with good amount of propaganda. Just like the rest of the MSM.

      1. hunkerdown

        Murdoch properties are strongly committed to the US-Israel-KSA axis. Thta’s not cowed, that’s bullish (and bull ish, too, to use the euphemisms of the kids)

  15. Maju

    These ten questions posed by Russia to Kiev and Washington pretty much explain what happened:

    1. Why did the MH17 plane leave the international corridor?
    2. Was MH17 leaving the route a navigation mistake or was the crew following instructions by Ukrainian air traffic controllers in Dnepropetrovsk?
    3. Why was a large group of air defense systems deployed to the militia-held area if the self-defense forces have no planes?
    4. Why did Kiev deploy BUK missile systems on the edge of militia-controlled zones directly before the tragedy?
    5. On the day of the crash Kiev intensified Kupol-M1 9S18 radar activity, key BUK system components. Why?
    6. What was a military plane doing on the route intended for civilian flights?
    7. Why was the military jet flying at so close to a passenger plane?
    8. Where did the launcher – from the video circulated by Western media and showing a Buk system being moved allegedly from Ukraine to Russia – come from? As the video was made on the territory controlled by Kiev, where was the launcher being transported?
    9. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?
    10. Why haven’t US officials revealed the evidence supporting claims that the MH17 was shot down by a missile launched by the militia?

    (Please read the original RT article, because it extends a bit more into the nature of these questions and includes some further evidence like videos and maps).

    1. juliania

      Thank you, Maju. What has interested me in the Russian military format, and I don’t think it has been discussed here, is how far back into the coup government structure this information stretches. If we believe this presentation, this was not some isolated incident of a wacky right wing bunch of nazi oldies going off the reservation, this was a coordinated positioning of weaponry on the ground, with intensified radar application and monitoring from the air. That goes back further than the units themselves to the organizers of the attack, and if one factors in the refusal to release air traffic information, it points to involvement higher up in the chain. Somebody gave those orders to assemble that equipment and surround that designated area for the plane’s demise.

      It is totally sickening to contemplate. But we must.

        1. fresno dan

          July 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

          Those are pertinent and critically important questions……that will not be asked by even one major western new organization.

  16. Banger

    Madsen’s article is hard to read, in part, because it presents a view of real politics that is unfamiliar to us who always seek a simple story, i.e., Urkaine did it or Russia did it. If we look really carefully at the power arrangements in the world we find, like Madsen does, that discrete countries are often divided into factions by private entitites including organized crime, oligarchs with private armies and so on. The mainstream media does not cover this in any way but most of us have, by now, come to the understanding that to read the New York Times or listen to NPR does not and cannot offer you a realistic view of the world and shouldn’t be expected to–these institutions are political in nature and serve political constituencies.

    A place to start, for those who don’t want to stray too far from the mainstream is with Misha Glenny’s book McMafia: Crime without Frontiers which gives you an idea of the size and scope of international crime. I believe the problem is much deeper than even Glenny reported though he did touch on the conjunction of the intelligence communities in several countries with organized crime–I believe there is a conjunction between all major corporations and all intelligence services, particularly the CIA, with organized crime. I would go even farther that the mentality of most major economic and political actors is criminal in nature if we define criminality as activity that deliberately breaks or skirts the letter and spirit of the law to meet utterly selfish ends that harms the larger community of honest people.

    Madsen’s piece therefore is credible in that he at least maps out what is most likely to be the case (from everything I know about the region) though he could be wrong about particulars.

    As we look at all this we can at least see that the situation is very murky.

    1. fresno dan

      July 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

      I would just note that even the term “organized crime” brings up a vision of Marlon Brando in the Godfather.
      Is LIBOR (interest rate manipulation on the London exchange) a criminal enterprise? Well, its hard to say it really is a free, transparent market – and legal – to the extent the definition of “legal” actually means ANYTHING. But if no one from the government investigates you, prosecutes you, or convicts you…..and legal mean nothing and/or anything, has a crime occurred?
      There is no crime because there is no law…

  17. OIFVet

    I must have missed the part where Lambert declared his undying love for Putin. Got a link? Look, many here who are opposed to this boondoggle which is in fact the result of the US neocon scheming couldn’t care less about Putin, and have said so. I know that for the simple minds the anti-US meddling=pro-Putin. Simple narrative for simple minds. But let me ask you: did your opposition to the Iraq war make you pro-Saddam? Petey the Saddam Lover? You surely remember that, but if you don’t then shame on you. It is the short memories of the populace that allows these execrable war mongers to get us into one imperial war after another, and to ally us with unsavory islamists in Syria and neo-nazis in Ukraine.

          1. OIFVet

            It’s an observation drawn from your body of work here. To wit, your admitted inability to follow “wordy” arguments and your simplistic, black-and-white views. If you take it as an insult than that’s your problem.

    1. Maju

      You don’t need to “love Putin” (who does?) to question the Western propaganda narrative of the attack. You just need to distrust our Imperial Government and realize that the Donbass Militia has not the capability to down a plane flying at 13,000 feet.

      Personally I strongly dislike Putin, among many other reasons because he has betrayed the misplaced hopes of the People’s Republics of Eastern Ukraine, who are, like in Spain 78 years ago, fighting single-handedly against Fascism. That does not mean that I don’t look to Russian and other information sources in order to overcome the Wall of Lies that our Western Imperial Goebbelses have so masterfully raised on Ukraine, as well as on West Asia, etc. One has the right and the duty to seek the truth wherever it may be found.

  18. ScottW

    We live in a Country in which a U.S. warplane killed 30 plus Yemeni civilians in 2002, and conspired with the Yemeni government to take responsibility. Only after a journalist photographed the U.S. bomb was the plot revealed. We have drones targeting civilians with absolutely no follow up investigation. We have a former defense secretary Rumsfield stating we don’t count civilian deaths in Iraq. We even lied about how one of our own, Pat Tillman, was killed in Afghanistan. The list goes on and on and on. We even shot down an Iranian civilian aircraft–and drum roll–the sanctions against us for doing that–chirp, chirp.

    The manufactured moral outrage by government officials complicit in killing civilians out numbering those tragically lost last week is hypocrisy beyond human consumption. The truth is a farce and for those who don’t understand the world we live in.

    Maybe the Rebels blew the plane out of the sky, maybe they did not. Whether they did, or did not, is unimportant to this government since all that matters is the political and economic hay that can be made with the current narrative.

    If we only cared a 1/1000 as much about the civilians we have killed after the past four decades as we feign caring about with those tragically killed last week.

    1. Banger

      Current U.S. foreign policy is based on two occasionally opposing goals: 1) full-spectrum dominance, i.e., world domination; and 2) war and chaos in as many places as possible. The latter goal exists because, in giving the MIC so much power we have created a monster that is only interested in profits–more wars more profits. They have no particular incentive to even produce good weapons and we witness with the F-35 and many other weapon systems. Since there are few real threats (no other country or entity wants world domination not even the radical extremists who are mainly in the pay and control of either the U.S. and/or the Saudis/Turks) no real harm is done by producing bad weapons. The whole story of Russia wanting to expand its power into Europe is crap. The only Russian power expanding into Europe is Russian and former USSR mafia influence.

      1. Vatch

        “The whole story of Russia wanting to expand its power into Europe is crap.”

        Some statements about Russian expansionism are certainly wrong, but not all. There are Russian troops in Moldova’s Transnistria region. There have been tensions over the status of ethnic Russians in Latvia and Estonia. Perhaps more significantly, Russia made efforts to fully incorporate Belarus into the Russian Federation. See:

        “After Vladimir Putin took office he expressed his deep dissatisfaction with the status of the relations with Belarus and criticized the 1999 treaty, the policy he had set was to put real content into this treaty. His proposal was to continue in the unification either in a federation model which meant that Belarus would join the Russian Federation or build a union which is similar to the European Union. However, Belarus refused and status quo was maintained.”

        1. Abe, NYC

          Belarus was Putin’s fiasco. He wanted to achieve a political union but couldn’t find a solution that satisfied Lukashenko. He apparently could only see Lukashenko as a kind of governor while the latter wanted an equal partnership. So a lot of noise was made but when the dust settled Lukashenko stayed where he was, continued receiving huge subsidies from Russia, and the most noticeable change is that Belarus citizens arriving in Russia now walk through domestic lane at passport control.

          Lukashenko, for one, outsmarted Putin.

      2. susan the other

        I wonder if we have two opposing goals intentionally because once the chaos and terror end the subtle terrorism of capitalism and financialism seem inconsequential.

      3. fresno dan

        July 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

        I still say Woody Allen got it right in the movie “Bananas” where he inadvertently becomes a paratrooper, and in the transport plane, asks the grizzled Sargent next to him”
        Woody: I forget, are we fighting for or against the government?
        Sargent: Because we’ve lost so often in the past, half of us will be fighting for the government, and half will be fighting against.

        I certainly agree with the vast majority of your analysis Banger (yeah, dominance and corruption). But I would add, what is a minor point, and that is simply Leviathan (does Leviathan spawn dominace and corruption – that is beyond my knowledge, but I would argue it certainly helps). When you have a giant military, a giant intelligence complex, a giant diplomatic bureaucracy…..well, birds gotta fly, bees gotta buzz, and government apparatchiks gotta do something (I know the US Army advertises itself on the TV as being a relief organization after natural disasters…..but that’s not their primary mission)

  19. Henry

    OK, some hot topics in recent European coverage, here’s one for starters.

    Foreign fighters in Azov battalion, now hot in Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, at least):

    In its media counter-offensive Russia demands that Sweden, Finland, the Baltic countries and France (funny they forgot Italy…) investigate the claims brought up in a report by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale of about a dozen foreign volunteers having taken oath in the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, a group undeniably containing some actual fascist elements.

    It looks pretty clear that at least a couple of (actual) Swedish neo-nazis/fascists have signed up, one of whom (Mikael Skillt, a self-claimed “sniper”) is now rumored to have been caught by the separatists in Luhansk. The Azov Battalion itself denies having any Finns there, though (they do not deny the existence of foreign fighters from several countries as such), and the Finnish Security Intelligence Service states they have no knowledge of such persons. The Il Giornale report is based on interviews of French and Italian volunteers, and it looks likely they are indeed involved. A lot of the fighters seem to be ex-military and veterans of other conflict zones, which is probably just the kind of people you’d expect to be drawn into these zones (on any side). The Azov Battalion is often claimed to be funded by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. (Russian Foreign Ministry communication, in Russian) (The Il Giornale story, in Italian) (Earlier Il Giornale story on the same topic) (Irish Times article on the same foreign fighters, in English) (BBC article on the Swedish neo-nazi ex-military guy who is now rumored to have been captured)

    Some interesting bits from the Irish Times article as to the motivation of the couple of joiners:

    “There are also growing fears in Ukraine that Azov and other far-right militias could ultimately turn on its new rulers, whom they see not as representatives of the revolution but of a venal oligarchy that has dominated the country for decades.

    “Russia’s annexation of Crimea and covert support for rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions has fuelled radicalism in a Ukraine already reeling from the revolution, and stoked national passions in a country that feels attacked by its huge neighbour and largely abandoned by its supposed allies in the West.”

    “Lemko, who hails from Canada’s large Ukrainian diaspora, said he believed in a ‘Ukraine for the Ukrainian people’ and saw the western social model as just as great a threat to the country’s future as the antipathy of the Kremlin. ‘I lived in western Europe for 11 years, so I know,’ said Lemko, who is in his 30s. ‘Ukraine has two enemies – Russia and the EU.’

    “Disillusioned by a western world that they regard as feckless, decadent and enslaved by high finance, the men saw an inspiring sense of purpose, patriotism and self-sacrifice in the tent camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, where the revolution played out last winter.”

    1. Vatch

      This is a very perceptive quote:

      “Russia’s annexation of Crimea and covert support for rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions has fuelled radicalism in a Ukraine already reeling from the revolution, and stoked national passions in a country that feels attacked by its huge neighbour and largely abandoned by its supposed allies in the West.”

      There is a strong argument that Crimea more properly belongs with Russia, since the people and the language are primarily Russian. However, the secession election was almost certainly fraudulent, since the vote totals for secession far exceeded the proportion of Russians and Tatars in Crimea. It really would have been nice if this had been handled more carefully. For starters, there should have been U.N. election observers, and the Russian troops should have stayed on their military bases. So now the people in eastern Ukraine (and Malaysian airline passengers) are reaping the dubious fruits of the badly botched events in Crimea.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If I apply American standards: After the cessation of constitutional government, the “separatists” ceased to be separatists and have conducted their own constitutional conventions. They were not invited to the greater Kiev area’s own convention process and are subsequently separate.

        I should point out the 13 colonies did not secede from the United Kingdom. The Parliament is not mentioned in the colonial charters, merely the king, and the colonies had no representatives at the Glorious Revolution or the Act of Union in 1707. You would notice in the Declaration George I I I is tried and executed in absence for his failure to abide by a list of promises on the part of the monarchy taken from the Colonial Charters. The Hessian had not yet arrived, so the foreign troops and pirates were the troops dispatched and funded by the Parliament of the UK. This is the 1861 Southern secession was not legal. They lost a vote and chose not to abide by that compromise the U.S. Constitution. The inferred relationship between the Parliament and the colonial legislatures is of separate but equal united under loyalty to the same king. By executing George III, bear in mind his statue in Philadelphia was toppled and melted for musket balls on the night of the 4th in absence of an actual execution, the 13 colonies dissolved the political bands between countries, no one is listed as a mother country, and announced a new union and single country from 13.

        Using our own standards, we can’t call the separatists, separatists. They were united under the old constitution which was replaced when constitutional norms were replaced.

        1. Vatch

          What cessation of constitutional government? The Ukrainian legislature was in the process of impeaching the president when he fled the country. Since President Yanukovych effectively resigned, the parliament did not complete the impeachment process.

          Anyhow, none of that changes the obvious fact of electoral fraud in the Crimean election, and people in Ukraine resent that fraud and Russian interference.

          1. Banger

            Very misleading–there were armed gangs taking over the Kiev–the dude had to leave or he would have been killed. At any rate the impetus for the whole series of events that have been repeated in many countries on many continents over the decades is clear. If you don’t know that history then you need to look into it.

            Besides, the U.S. has openly stated that it seeks full-spectrum dominance–did you not catch that? The U.S. has done everything it could to spread war and chaos where governments and civil society were weak or in crisis, at least in recent years–are you ignoring that too?

              1. Vatch

                There’s no mention of Yanukovych in the article.

                I agree that the events described in the article are horrible. Most of those events occurred after Russia annexed Crimea. That’s the point of the quote — Russia escalated the crisis, and things keep getting worse.

            1. Vatch

              I’m skeptical that Yanukovych was in such peril back in February. This has come up before — where were the Berkut special forces that had served as his enforcers? Surely they could have protected him.

              By seizing Crimea, Russia did as much as the U.S. to spread war and chaos in Ukraine. Actually, Russia’s actions probably did more.

              1. OIFVet

                Russia opportunistically used the US-created chaos to secure its warm water port on the strategically located peninsula. In essence, Putin played chess while Obama played checkers. Must really chap the “progressives'” collective behind after all the check vs. checkers rhetoric they came up with to avoid the painful cognitive dissonance that their grandmaster-in-chief has no clothes. And we are not even talking about history here, as it would expose the uncomfortable for the US propaganda fact that Crimea was Russian before there ever was Ukraine, and that it was illegally gifted to Ukraine SSR by Khrushchev. Why the hell do we have to keep rehashing this stuff, why are you so obstinate in refusing to acknowledge objective historical truths? The US gambit failed, get over it. Without it Crimea would still be “Ukrainian”, its that simple.

                1. Vatch

                  You must have missed my sentence: “There is a strong argument that Crimea more properly belongs with Russia, since the people and the language are primarily Russian.” The transfer to Russia could and should have been handled far better than it was. Instead, Putin got greedy, and he gave the leaders of Ukraine a foreign enemy for their supporters to hate. Things were already bad, and now they’re much worse, in part because of what happened in Crimea.

                  As for Obama, I guess he plays 11 dimensional checkers! And not very well…

                  1. OIFVet

                    You are right Vatch, I did miss it. I still stand by what I wrote though. I fail to see how Putin could have handled it “far better,” and how that would have made any difference at all given the level of demonization in the run up to Sochi even. The propaganda was so noxious that it turned me from a complete indifference toward Russia to concern about where this propaganda might lead us to. So Putin did the cold, hard realist thing: he secure his nation’s interests and a vital defensive position. We forced his hand by overthrowing his puppets in order to install our puppets, yet he is to blame for all this? Good lord, there is nothing he could have done and not be blamed for it. Might as well make the most of the hand we dealt him, and this is exactly what he did.

                    As for the Ukraine, they only have themselves to blame. When you climb in bed with the US you can hardly expect not to feel like a cheap whore afterwards. Yet in typical Eastern European fashion, it is always someone else’s fault. Being an Eastern European I can not possibly convey just how much I despise our refusal to ever look at ourselves in the mirror and take responsibility for our crappy decisions. There is still this naivete amongst some segments in the populations where the US is viewed as some kind of knight on a white horse. Well, it ain’t, it will use you to benefit itself and ten throw you to the wolves when you have outlived your usefulness. The leaders may know better but either think it will be different this time around, or simply care about their own interests, the nation be damned. So the Ukrainian people had better look in the mirror, accept responsibility for their own part in allowing the clown show of a junta to put them between the rock and the hard place, and do the traditional Eastern Slav thing: line them up against the wall.

              2. Banger

                That’s why he left–that force got out of Dodge sometime before–he had nothing left–everyone, for one reason or another, had abandoned ship–very much like how the Iraqi high-command abandoned ship once ISIS came into Iraq. I believe they were bribed by the endless pot of money from secret U.S. funds and that of Ukrainian gansters–that’s totally a guess, btw. Someone made somebody an offer they could not refuse.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          So you are out protesting Israeli occupations? Or is that different because the Palestinians are too dark?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “The Azov Battalion is often claimed to be funded by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.”

      Kolomoisky is the “Chameleon” in the Wayne Madsen article linked above. The presence of Swedish neo-nazis among his private armed force which is fighting for Kiev is also mentioned by Madsen.

      Sounds like the beginnings of some corroboration……

      “There are also growing fears in Ukraine that Azov and other far-right militias could ultimately turn on its new rulers, whom they see not as representatives of the revolution but of a venal oligarchy that has dominated the country for decades.”

      This would seem like a real, logical possibility, which has always made the Washington/neocon embrace of Ukranian neo-nazis very surprising, to say the least. Hubris, arrogance and a sense of god-given omnipotence may possibly have replaced good old-fashioned common sense.

      1. Henry

        I hardly see Washington embracing these groups. The organization of Ukrainian forces via oligarch-sponsored forces and the National Guard has been perhaps inevitable to some extent, given that the Ukrainian army as an institution looks like an incompetent mess after years of neglect and corruption (they go hand in hand). Actually, you could argue the situation might be alleviated by more outside support for the army proper. If anything, Washington has been quite cautious with that, as they do not want to escalate the support given by both the West and Russia. However, the longer this continues, they are potentially going to have problems with some of these groups. So, basically, both scenarios contain huge risks and the outlook right now is definitely either very grim (more irregular forces) or very dangerous (escalation of support).

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Beg to differ.

          I would consider Victoria Nuland’s “$5 Billion,” at the very least, an “embrace.” My always evident sense of decorum prevents further explicit characterization. I’m thinking BJ here, but, of course, I’d never SAY such a thing. /sarc

          As to the alleviation of the “situation” by “more ‘outside’ support for the army proper,” are you effin’ NUTS? /unsarc

          1. Henry

            I was talking strictly about alleviating the situation vis-a-vis the problems expected from out-of-control militias. Obviously not your silver bullet for the situation as a whole.

            What does “Nuland’s $5 billion” (i.e. the total money channeled by USA to various NGOs in Ukraine *since 1991*) have to do with militias in Southern and Eastern Ukraine, exactly? Help me out here.

            1. FederalismForever

              Nuland’s statement is a rare quote from a U.S. government official that the commentariat here at NC will treat as gospel truth. Almost any other quote from a U.S. official will be viewed with deep suspicion, or condemned outright as a lie or fabrication.

              1. OIFVet

                Surely you understand the difference between an insider conversation not expected to be made public and statements made for public consumption. Gentlemen’c C for the try, I am feeling generous today.

    3. Paul Niemi

      I can’t rule out that scenario, where pro-Russian separatists accidentally shot down the jet. Except that scenario requires me to think about the motivations of pro-Russian separatists, and the Peoples Republic of Donetsk and so on. I find it hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would want to volunteer to be a “pro-Russian separatist.” I can’t see what they have to gain. Unless there is monetary compensation from Russia for the pro-Russian separatists, I can’t see them leaving their farms and families to organize this way. And if they are working for Russia for money, then they are by extension agents of Russia, who would have accidentally fired the missile, and that changes the complexion of the scenario somewhat.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There is a history of neo-nazi support in the East hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Churchill didn’t casually give away Europe. The electoral strength of Hitler was in Prussia. Much of the sane were liquidated in the East during the Holocaust. We didn’t deal with it except for the Nazis we brought over. It was a good move for us. We didn’t have to rebuild or deal with the problems ourselves. Unlike the Russians who the nazis saw as inhuman, they thought Americans were soft. They might have tried to pull operation Werewolf based on their prejudices.

        The difference is those people still know this history. It’s in living history. There are reasons why the Kiev junta would frighten Russian orthodox types. They remember a history different than the one presented on the history channel.

        1. Paul Niemi

          I see what you mean. I’m wondering if the grievance felt by Ukrainians makes a distinction between Soviet and Russian. Or it may not make a difference, as it was as the Soviets that the Russians starved them, in living memory. Ethnic Russians would have reason to beware of digging up the old grievances.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            No, the USSR was a perversion with a Russian first sensibility. The people in Kiev remember rule from Moscow too, but it wasn’t as obvious as black/white relations so it’s not as on the nose. It was still a Russian first club even with the Georgian in charge. Jews, gays, Catholics, oles, etc. have always had an element of anonymity in this country, so many of the problems faced can be forgotten. An African-American is always an African-American.

            It’s important not to put other peoples in our shoes but to remember they have they their own shoes and experiences that may b e very different from our own, alien even, which is why saber-rattling without cause and evidence is always wrong. As Mr. Franklin pointed out there has never been a good war or a bad peace even while he was in Philadelphia in 1775/6.

        2. JWG

          Yes, and the rhetoric coming from the Neo-Nazis in Kiev terrified many in the East as well as the Tatars in Crimea. That, and the economic outlook after the IMF gets its hooks into the East is enough motivation to want to separate. Note that it is not Russia with more than 1000 military bases in over 100 countries around the world, it is the US that terrifies the East.

          1. juliania

            Odessa was plenty terrifying.

            Not to mention Mariupol, oh yes and most recently Donyesk.

            But we in the West are protected from such news. You have to go out and look for it.

            Tell me, which towns have the separatists bombed?

    4. Maju

      It is interesting that you mention the Azov Battalion because the Militias reported to have literally smashed it early this month (I echoed this news on July 8th). According to them the Battalion lost 238 (injured or dead) out of 320 men in a battle defending the Saur-Mogila Heights near Donetsk. The Nazi Battalion is financed by PrivatBank’s owner, some Kolomoisky guy, allegedly a well known Zionist.

  20. Jack Gregson

    I have had cats in my life for well over 50 years, and they have taught me that respect is critical to them as individuals. Human beings on the other hand are more like dogs and will willing and negligently follow the alpha members of their group into disaster.
    To my cat-like brain every time I have been lied to by my government has been like an injury inflicted on me, with no regard for my intelligence. Time has taught me that wounds never completely heal, and reminds me on a regular basis that the past never really goes away as long as we live. So things like light at the end of the tunnel, incubator babies, April Glaspie, weapons of mass destruction, Muammar Gaddafi a dictator, and sarin gas, have become wounds I won’t forget.
    The depression you are suffering at this time is something I completely understand as an American who has a very long memory.

    1. OIFVet

      Interesting. As a cat person myself I respect their absolute refusal to do anything unless they want to. I wonder if indeed cat ownership correlates with more skepticism toward “authority”.

      1. Jack Gregson

        I have had a deep seated cynicism for government authority since the December, 1964 “Free Speech Movement” was crushed by the FBI and police when I was eleven years old. I saw J. Edgar Hoover as a monster who aided Ronald Wilson Reagan’s rise to power on the broken back of Mario Savio, and others like him who thought we should put our bodies on the gears of the state.

  21. Vatch

    It is useful to to analyze who has the most to gain from an event (cui bono?), but it can be tricky. Who benefits if:

    1. The plane that is shot down is a Ukrainian military plane? The rebels benefit of course.
    2. The plan that is shot down is a foreign civilian plane, and rebels are perceived to have shot it down? The Ukrainian government benefits.
    3. The plan that is shot down is a foreign civilian plane, and the Ukrainian government forces are perceived to have shot it down? The rebels benefit.

    There are more possibilities, of course, that directly involve Russia or the U.S., but I think these three are probably the most important. Note that motivation depends on whether the people who launch the missile believe the plane is a Ukrainian military plane or something else. It turns out to have been something else. So a big question is: what did the missile launchers believe the plane to be? It’s not enough to analyze who benefits. We also need to know what the people who caused the act believed was happening.

    Another question is: why the heck did the authorities allow civilian flights over a war zone!? So even if the plane was shot down by the rebels, the Ukrainian government would share the blame.

    1. vidimi

      they didn’t just allow it; they diverted it there and denied the pilots’ request to fly at a higher altitude

          1. Vatch

            From the article:

            The UK Civil Aviation Authority recently urged UK-based airlines not to fly over a wide area near the Crimea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and several airlines, including British Airways, have followed that advice.

            Others, however, had been continuing to use the route, which is one of the “aerial motorways” between northern Europe and south Asia. Malaysia Airlines was one of more than a dozen that flew the route on Thursday. Its flight MH17 was only a few miles from an Air India Boeing 787 and a Singapore Airlines 777 when it was shot down. The only restriction placed on the route by the Ukrainian government was that aircraft must remain above 32,000ft.

            I hope more airlines will now follow the advice of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

    2. Henry

      Negligence and incompetence rather than intent explain the actions of all parties much better. And as for Russia, in a way, they wage a very clever kind of semi-covert war with info-ops and all, but it’s a high-risk strategy and they can never be sure they’ll be able to keep it under control. They definitely do not have the motive to down a passenger airplane, and had the BUK missile system been operated in full control of Russia, this would’ve never happened.

      Apart from securing Crimea, my guess is that internal tensions in Russia go a long way in explaining their approach. Putin has essentially lost the support of the liberal bourgeoisie since the Putin-Medvedev switcharoo, and he wants to make sure nothing like the Maidan in Kiev takes place in Moscow. To that effect, it would be rational to: 1) escalate the Ukrainian crisis in the direction of an ethnic-sectarian strife instead of an anti-oligarch/securocrat and anti-corruption protest, 2) raise and communicate the expected cost and misery of a popular uprising by making an example of Ukraine.

      1. Vatch

        Hi Henry,

        Good point:

        Putin has essentially lost the support of the liberal bourgeoisie since the Putin-Medvedev switcharoo, and he wants to make sure nothing like the Maidan in Kiev takes place in Moscow.

        A couple of months ago, NC linked to an interesting article that pointed out how Putin is rallying his country’s “silent majority” against the urban liberals, just as Nixon did during 1969 and the early 1970s. It’s a cynical but effective political strategy.

        1. Henry

          Yeah, it’s a good piece and a plausible argument. I had it in mind, too, writing the above.

        2. OIFVet

          One of the American liberals’ more obnoxious conceits is that liberalism actually stands for the little people, that it is some sort of leftist ideology that fights for the common good. And it is a total BS. True, for a brief moment in history it did those things in a limited way in the context of FDR saving capitalism from its excesses and preventing the rise of socialism and communism in America. But when we look at the origins of liberalism and its definition, we find it to mean something completely different then it does here in the US. There, liberalism is laissez-fair capitalism, an ideology of elite oppression of the common person. American liberals did undertake their journey back to their European ideological roots beginning with Carter, and are now firmly back in the liberal fold, the historical abberation of American liberalism’s leftward drift having been resolutely corrected. Still, it is helpful for American liberals to maintain the illusion that they are the friends of the common person, as it allows them to pass decidedly elite-friendly policies that screw that same common person. Most Americans’ definition of liberalism still lags behind and has not caught up with the reality of today’s American liberalism, but the Russians harbor no such illusions. All they have to do is to remember the 1990’s to know what liberalism really is: the ruthless rule of the elites, aided and abetted by a small class of white collar professionals in their merciless exploitation of the common person. So when you mention the Russian liberal bourgeoisie you are, wittingly or not, evoking the warm and cuddly image of yesterday’s American liberalism that disappeared with Carter’s election. It is rather useful way to get nominal “liberals” and “progressives” to get on the “Evil Putin” and “Evil Russia” bandwagon, thinking that they are actually supporting some embattled Russian fighting for the common person’s “freedom”. In reality Russian liberals are the classic liberals as Europeans defined them: elitist bastards who hate the common Russian as much as any neocon does, and have proved it by almost destroying it in the 1990’s at the behest of their liberal buddy William Jefferson Clinton and his neocon handlers. This is the liberal bourgeois American “lefties” are so in love with.

          And that is hardly surprising given the “lefties” love for Obama, the man who was selected by our elites save our capitalism from its excesses yet again by hijacking popular discontent with vacuous hopey-changey rhetoric. You speak about Putin rallying the “silent” Russian majority against the “urban liberals” as a way to cling to and consolidate his power. Well, its not true. If American “liberals” were able to muster one moment of self-honesty, they would see that Obama and Putin are basically the same: they both work for their respective liberal (European sense) elites. Russian oligarchs know damn well that it is Putin who protects them from popular discontent, that his coming to power and the rise in Russians’ living standards since the catastrophe that were the 1990’s saved them from something very, very ugly and violent. When Russians go violent they go violent all the way and with ferocity the average American will find hard to comprehend. Similarly, for all of Obama’s rhetoric about inequality and Wall Street “fat cats” he has done absolutely nothing to improve the lot of the unwashed masses, but has done an admirable job of protecting the elites from the consequences of their excesses. As Obama has said himself, he is what stands between the elites and the pitchforks. So in the end, both Putin and Obama are in the protection racket, with the difference being that Obama will get paid once he leaves office. See Clinton, William Jefferson. It is a protection racket to protect the respective elite criminals.

          So why all the fuss about Russia, then? It is in the end nothing more than an intramural squabble, one set of elites fighting for a larger share of the criminal pie. Both systems are utterly corrupt and criminal, both systems are meat grinders to exploit the common person. The difference is, the West has taken its criminality to an incredibly sophisticated heights, whereas the Russians are playing catch-up, using the BRICs to form a collective effort to capture a larger share of the pie from the American-led Western cartel. The Western cartel also has a better PR, both domestic and international: the domestic PR to manufacture consent amongst its victims at home to being exploited, and international PR to manufacture international consent when it sets out to mug the people of some faraway crappy but geopolitically important or resource-rich country. We are currently witnessing that international PR machine at its highest setting, seeking to paint the “poor” Ukrainians as victims of Russian aggression when the truth of the matter is that the US simply wanted to replace the Russia-friendly oligarchs in charge with a set of US-friendly ones. That way the struggle for control of energy resources and their transit to the western markets and the profits associated with them could be more easily won by the US and the West. Putin and his elites want to keep and increase their share. It is a struggle of elites, one instigate by the American Empire, and as usual it is the common person who pays the blood price for the elite squabble.

          But sure, let’s pin all the blame on Putin. Lord forbid American “lefties” notice that Saint Obama and his merry band of “liberals” emit a neolibercon stink when they crap. The Maidanites will find out soon enough though, and it will not be pretty.

          1. Vatch

            I agree about Obama. He serves the oligarchs, and he will be well paid after he leaves office. I’m a little mystified by the sarcasm in your final paragraph. Very few NC commenters have a high opinion of Obama. I certainly don’t.

            As for Putin, he really does deserve plenty of blame. But there are several NC commenters who appear to have elevated him to undeserved sainthood. You’re not one of those Putin admirers — your second paragraph proves that.

            1. OIFVet

              Here is the thing Vatch: we live in the US so we should be concerned with our own criminal elites and their political flunkies. So I don’t give a crap about Putin, he is Russia’s problem (and really has actually done more for the Russians than Obama has for Americans, if only to save the Russian elites’ hides). I give a crap about our leaders instigating yet another conflagration where the only winners can be the elites and where the common people are certain to lose, be they Ukrainian, Russian, or American. I don’t vote in Russia so I have no power and no interest in worrying about their domestic affairs. I vote in the US and therefore I supposedly have some power, and certainly interest in our domestic affairs. Having been sent off to war on false pretenses once before I now find myself allergic to elite BS, “liberal” or “conservative”. So I strenuously oppose the US having stuck its nose in the Ukrainian outhouse, and I will criticize it and oppose it to my dying breath. All it does is provide justification for more division, more military spending, more hypocrisy and propaganda, and it therefore distracts the gullible “liberal” fools from the big stinking pile in our own front yard. Putin this, Putin that, “freedom” and “democracy”. I have an idea, let’s get our own freedom and democracy back before we worry about anybody else’s.

              1. Vatch

                Putin’s behavior is important for Americans because our oligarchs can use him as an external threat to inhibit opposition to the American oligarchy. And Putin can use bad behavior by American oligarchs to rally the Russian “silent majority” behind him. We should oppose all oligarchs.

                Putin helped create the eastern Ukrainian insurgency, and with the downing of the Malaysian plane, it’s getting out of his control. A bit reminiscent of how al Qaeda was created by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and rapidly spun out of control.

                1. OIFVet

                  Sorry Vatch, but this is the perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We say Putin is evil, provoke him into a response, and then say “We tolda ya he’s evil”. If we as people have been so freaking dumbed down that we can’t see through that game then we deserve what we get. When you have a problem with your house do you blame some guy three states away for it, or do you fix it?

          2. fresno dan

            July 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm
            Nice analysis.
            It reinforces to me though, that a lot of labels are so ill defined and ill used, that they really obfuscate rather than enlighten…..(purposeful I suspect). When you know very little of the issue, and you have no principals (and the people you have to choose from have no principals), and you really don’t demand clarity from you leaders (“I am not against all wars” – – you can say that again, apparently the only War Obama would ever be against was the Iraqi war. That is, Obama was not a peace candidate, or even much of an advocate of Bush’s INITIAL “humble” foreign policy) everything becomes a matter of red good, blue bad! (or vice versa)

            example of a microcosm of American thinking – LeBron James
            LeBron plays for Cleveland
            Cleveland people – LeBron is better than God!!!! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him….
            LeBron goes to Miami
            Cleveland people – LeBron is the Devil!!!! We HATE, HATE, HATE him…..
            LeBron comes back to Cleveland
            Cleveland people – LeBron is better than God!!!! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him….

            Same man, playing the same game. The overwhelming number of people in Cleveland don’t know any Cleveland basketball player, most of the players were not born in Cleveland, most players have and will play on other teams. Fans pay outrageous amounts of money to see a game – yet have no ownership interest in the business, which pays less in taxes and is subsidized (if it is the typical American sports conglomerate) and therefore they are harmed with higher taxes and less services….
            Yet humans will devote real income and real emotional involvement, merely because….that’s their team. It will never occur to them to question their own thoughts on the subject – why do they follow this person, why is this person a hero to them, why does he actually do …..hmmmmmm
            LeBron – throws a ball threw a hoop and gets millions. No one is hurt
            Obama – does more that Bush as far as advancing the security state. The constitution ends de facto.

            At least the Clevelanders were angry with LeBron on an issue for a time.

            1. OIFVet

              ” reinforces to me though, that a lot of labels are so ill defined and ill used, that they really obfuscate rather than enlighten…..(purposeful I suspect)” I suspect so too, or rather have become convinced. But wait, it gets worse: “We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents united in the belief that we do not have to give up our labels, merely put them aside to do what’s best for the country.” What a bunch of bastards!

    3. juliania

      On your third suggestion that ‘the rebels benefit’ I would suggest that would have been extremely difficult to predict when the overwhelming onslaught of media attention is always anti-Putin and anti any public awareness of possible Ukrainian involvement. The tide may be turning now, and I think it is, but it is turning as people examine the facts. Fighters in the separatist cause had no reason to believe this would be the case.

      Also, from the information being published at Vineyard of the Saker, the separatists felt they had been winning an important battle and sounded frustrated that their momentum would be crushed, still very much happening as the coup forces continue their bombardment of Eastern regions.

      But again, we in the West would not be aware of this.

      Unless we looked. Sarah Palin claimed she could see Russia out her kitchen window. Maybe we should try seeing Ukraine.

    4. Joe Robinson

      To close down the area to civilian flights would be to acknowledge that the situation on the ground is not under Kiev´s control, which would go against the official narrative. That is probably enough explanation right there, but the fact that overflights generate revenue adds a financial incentive to keep the skies open. If we want to add a Machiavellian dimension to it, we could imagine a conversation with the responsible minister: “Minister, maybe we should close the airspace, the rebels are shooting down planes” – “Don´t worry, the civilian flights are too high, and besides, if they did manage to shoot one down, that would be very good for us.” All that is required is malign inaction.

  22. timotheus

    I concur that we should not rush to form opinions a priori. However, it seems that the great majority of the commentators here have done so.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What are those judgments?

      All we know is the U.S. is making claims without evidence with a history of claims without evidence. Can it with the false equivalency crap. Saying the U.S. elite have a less than storied with the truth is about as controversial as saying the sky is blue.

    2. Ned Ludd

      “The rebels shot down the plane.” – a careful, considered conclusion based upon a thorough review of the U.S. State Department’s talking points.

      “There are other possibilities, contrary evidence to inspect, and a lot of evidence left to review.” – rushing to judgment.

  23. Henry

    As elsewhere, the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight and the related Russian spin are discussed in European papers. Of course, on a political level, the leaders avoid making any definite conclusions, but statements both from diplomats and ministers and (in more clearer terms) from the media certainly take the (in my opinion the most sensible) stance of treating the separatists as the prime suspects, assuming they have probably downed the plane in an apparent accident, quite possibly with a (perhaps poorly operated or incomplete) BUK missile system originating from Russia.

    For a balanced summary and German foreign policy stances, see this Spiegel article (in English):

    “The official investigations will continue for a long time, and it seems unlikely that all parties will recognize the conclusions reached by the experts. But it is already clear who the main suspects are in the downing of the airliner: the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine who had received substantial weaponry from Russia in recent weeks, and may have unintentionally struck a commercial airliner with a surface-to-air missile. They apparently believed it was a Ukrainian military aircraft.”

    “In Germany, so far, an atmosphere of reserve has prevailed. Neither Chancellor Merkel nor Foreign Minister Steinmeier has publicly blamed Putin for the incident. Speaking on Friday, the chancellor stated, ‘These events have once again shown us that what is required is a political solution and above all that it is also Russia that is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine at the moment.'”

    The desperate Russian media spin and conspiracy theories seem to be quite generally discussed in a tone of nervous disbelief, much in line with this New Republic piece:

    The looming EU sanctions are a huge topic, as well, but I don’t really have the time now to recap any of that. Personally, I’m a bit skeptical, as the existing sanctions are a joke, really, and EU countries are pretty divided on the issue with a lot of big players (France, Germany, Italy) possibly wanting to water down the measures. Cameron has been huffing and puffing a lot lately, but it remains to be seen whether UK wants to take the chance of endangering their financial ties with Russian money (which is practically is everywhere).

    1. Henry

      Another quote from the Spiegel piece:

      “Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov characterized the downing of the Malaysian airliner near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk as being the equivalent of an Eastern European 9/11.”

      If you don’t mind me tr@lling a bit, I guess this makes Lambert an Eastern European 9/11 truther!

    2. Paul

      The Russian propaganda is pretty scary. Basically, the Russian people will have no understanding of why additional sanctions are being imposed. This has the potential to create a huge rift with Russia for years to come, and not just the government, but the general public.

      1. Henry

        Yeah, it’s scary, although I wouldn’t generalize it to concern all Russians. The city middle class is probably completely aware of the huge amount of spin involved. But they are not Putin’s core support group anymore, anyway, and Putin’s message to them is something like “No way you are going to have a Maidan here”. The scary part, in my opinion, is that with all the out-of-control propaganda (it’s probably not as centrally mandated as you’d think) and tough guy posturing, Putin may find it very hard to back off when needed, and explain this to his “Russian neocon” constituency.

        1. Henry

          Actually, meant to say “Red State” constituency and “Russian neocon” close circle.

          1. juliania

            Are you calling the presentation of the Russian Federation military people, complete with aerial photographs ‘propaganda’ and ‘spin’? Was it ‘propaganda’ and ‘spin’ when the US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson took photographs to the UN to demonstrate that indeed Russia had installed missiles in Cuba? As indeed they had.

            And the Russians made no claims; they simply presented the evidence and asked the questions.

            The Russians have said there was a US satellite over the site at the time of the crash and has asked for that data to be released. Sounds fair enough to me. What exactly am I missing here?

      2. Henry

        Moreover, there might be some cultural, historical or societal differences in the way of understanding Russians here. They certainly are not dumb, that’s for sure. “Truth” is a contextual thing, maybe somewhat more there than here. People have priorities, and mutually reaffirming the “common understanding” among your peers is a way to signal respect for the intricate web of protection and reciprocity crucial for you and your loved ones in such a society. That, and plain and simple, if a bit vengeful, national pride. The 1990’s didn’t treat most Russians particularly well.

        To be blunt, the real dumbasses here are the non-Russians channeling blatant Russian lies. There’s just something deeply wrong with them.

          1. Henry

            Hey, English is not my native language but I suppose this has more to do with you *refusing* to understand the expression and my point. Too bad.

            1. James Levy

              Paul, what makes you think that signaling that you will go along with the program and buy into the narrative is less prevalent in Washington than in Moscow? I’ve seen it happen with Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia. Sure, we have some open dissent here, but as Chomsky has pointed out, that’s the beauty of the thing; elites allow dissent because they know that 99 times in 100 it is meaningless to their decision-making processes. Nobody got fired, imprisoned, or executed for lying us into the Iraq war. No one who said it was a sham got elevated to positions of power for being right. Russia is a lousy country to live in, but don’t let the appearance of meaningful dissent fool you to the reality of how things get decided in US foreign policy.

    3. Ned Ludd

      statements both from diplomats and ministers and (in more clearer terms) from the media certainly take the (in my opinion the most sensible) stance of treating the separatists as the prime suspects

      Why is this “the most sensible” stance? Has the U.S., Ukraine, or another government produced satellite images or other data from the time of the crash that show that the rebels shot down the plane?

      The Russian military – but not the U.S. or Ukraine – published some evidence, and the Ukrainians simply dismissed it as “a lot of pictures and maps”.

  24. tiger

    It is truly amazing that the U.S. thinks it’s a good idea to fan the flames here and be so anti-Putin. Really boggles the mind given the complex issues it is facing with trade, central banking, the entire middle east…

    The only explanation is that, as you say, just like the buildup to the Iraq war, there is a certain view that the white house subscribes to and they’re going full speed ahead.

    1. Gaianne

      The US happy talk is just that–happy talk. American economy, American politics, all are about to come apart. The answer? (As always) war. The US needs war and needs it soon–this year.

      That is why they are going full speed ahead.

      Time is on the side of the Russians and the Chinese, which is why they are playing for time. But eventually they will have to respond–to act. Then we will see.

      Except for one thing: The Pentagon doesn’t want this war either. But the Pentagon too may be forced to act.

      I don’t think the outcome can be predicted, except for the obvious: It will be bad.

      You should make your personal survival arrangements while you can.


  25. Jim Haygood

    Israel turns Venezuelan:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Delta Air Lines said it’s suspending flights to and from Tel Aviv, citing security reasons. The airline noted that Delta flight 468, a Boeing 747 from JFK with 273 passengers and 17 crew, diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Tuesday after reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv.

    1. Jim Haygood

      More Israeli tendentiousness:

      The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended all U.S. flights to Israel for at least 24 hours.

      In a statement earlier Tuesday, before the FAA announced its suspension, Israel Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said keeping flights out of his country was an overreaction. “There is no reason for these companies to stop flights,” he said. “They have given a prize to terror.”


      You’d think for $3 billion a year, we wouldn’t have to put up with this lip.

  26. Lambert Strether

    The Iraq WMDs prove that a modern United States government will go to war in bad faith. If the Obama administration wants to prove its different from the Bush administration, it needs to start acting differently than it is.

    One obvious approach would be to treat the shootdown as a criminal matter, and call for the perps to be brought before the Hague Tribunal, strengthening the rule of law and cooling down the calls for war.

    (And you can bet the Russians have noticed we did just that with their clients, the Serbs, but evince a curious unwillingness to risk our own, Ukraine.)

    1. Banger

      Exactly right, Lambert! Isn’t it amazing that there is so little interest in using criminal investigation techniques when these sorts of incidents occur? Instead, the USG aka “the World” or whatever simply asserts on the day of the event that they already know who did the deed. The importance of doing just what you say is that it would establish a precedent and actually begin to rebuild the idea of international law which the USG, essentially, scuttled after 9/11. I believe had the 9/11 attacks been treated as a criminal act history might have been very different.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        The problem with this line of thought, i.e., 11/9 was a criminal act that required a criminal investigation, is that had such an exhaustive investigation took place, the cash trail would have led to the USA’s key ally in the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia, which as we all know is a “No No” as far as the USA is concerned as Saudi Arabia is the lynchpin of the petrodollar, so without the House of Saud, the US petrodollar would be history and hence the US dollar hegemony we suffer today.

      2. Paul Niemi

        I am guessing at least a dozen people, probably more, knew who shot down MH17 within two minutes of pushing the button on the missile launcher. Why? Because one of them did it. The rest were watching the launch at the scene. Let’s assume then that they were sworn to secrecy, threatened not to talk to anyone about what they knew, once they knew the jet had been struck. What are the odds that one or more of those eyewitnesses will tell the story and the truth will become known? There is a concept about how many people can be trusted with a secret. The odds that a secret will not be kept increase with the number of people in the know. I would tend to believe that enough people have firsthand knowledge of what happened that it is almost certain that the truth will leak out. What would be needed are investigators who speak the language interviewing people near the crash scene. Someone will know someone who knows.

        1. susan the other

          So far nobody has speculated that the plane wasn’t shot down, but blown out of the air. Why no discussion on that?

          1. Paul Niemi

            We have to rely on our own government’s say so. When a missile is launched, it leaves an electronic signature that we detect from listening stations, and the duration of the flight is recorded. This technology is used to detect an ICBM launch anywhere in the world. When the Secretary of State says that was how it was shot down, he draws from that intelligence, and he wouldn’t hazzard lying because it can be verified.

              1. Paul Niemi

                So, yes, the NSA knows, and that puts us exactly back on square one. Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

            1. Banger

              Ok, is that a joke? Do you really believe it? The government is perfectly able to lie and present false evidence on this issue or any other as it has done countless times–read about U.S. Actions over the past 60 years. It also controls the American mainstream 100% when it come to national security issues.

              1. Paul Niemi

                I pointed out that they have the means to know if it was a missile fired from the ground. Can we rely on what they say to be the truth? I don’t know. Does the story rule out an air to air missile? Probably not. It is for what its worth, and investigations start by making reasoned assumptions and interviewing witnesses. I’ll never forget Colin Powell standing in front of the U.N. making an ass out of himself lying about WMDs in Iraq. That’s one example. But don’t merely assume everything the government says is a lie. I would guess you might say the government lies now more frequently. On the other hand, you and I have a lot to lose if we can not rely on the verity of the correspondence we personally have with our government. Our personal welfare relies to a great degree on the honesty and forthrightness of those with whom we interact who work for the government. That’s why we must take evidence of dishonesty seriously and confront it.

        2. Banger

          This nonsense of assuming secrets can’t be kept show you know very little about the real world of power politics and intel. People in the know are tightly vetted and know their lives are finished if they talk–also, military and intel services act in a strictly “need to know basis” so few people have a sense of what is actually going on. At any rate, even if you were to blow the whistle no one would believe you and the mainstream would not mention your revelations or say you are deluded. Look at all this time what multiple witnesses and scholars have reported over the decades about the assassinations of the sixties and simply are ignored despite the evidence being overwhelming that the governments stories are false–I have cited the RFK one as the most obvious one too many times to go through it again. Look at poor Scott Ritter who never could get his story told in the mainstream because he knew the inspections regime in Iraq was successful.

          1. Paul Niemi

            Very well, thank you for straightening out my assumptions. I always read you, you know.

            1. Ned Ludd

              Why Are 6000+ Reporters Keeping the Government’s Non-Secret?

              I know a secret.

              I know the identity of the man who was CIA Chief of Station in Kabul until one month ago.

              The name of the top spook in Afghanistan was disseminated via email to 6,000+ reporters as part of an attendance list of senior U.S. officials participating in a meeting with President Obama during his surprise visit with U.S. troops. […]

              Until last week I was working this story for Pando Daily, where I was a staff writer and cartoonist. We intended to publish the name — not to endanger him (which in any case would not have been possible since Langley had yanked him off his post), but to take a stand for adversarial media. […]

              There is no longer a “we.” Pando fired me over the weekend, along with the investigative journalist David Sirota.

              Stripped of the institutional protection of a media organization willing to supply legal representation and advice, I cannot move forward with our/my original plan to reveal the name.

              1. Paul Niemi

                I’m sorry about what happened, Ted. I’m still predicting someone involved on the ground with the missile will give an account of what transpired. These are scared kids, many reported as having been drunk the next morning. They will confide in others. It has nothing to do with whether trained professionals can protect intelligence or whether news agencies consent not to publish embargoed government information. I’d like to know how far back that tradition goes and who started it. I always read you too. Your insights are super.

                1. Ned Ludd

                  I’m not Ted Rall; I was just quoting his article. The indentation from the <blockquote> was easy to miss.

                  The article was temporarily unavailable, but here is an archive.

                  1. Paul Niemi

                    Ok. One could get that impression because you have run that block quote before, your first name is three letters and rhymes with Ted, last name four letters like Rall, quote is in first person. But often impressions are not reality, and that tends to illustrate the topic today.

              2. JCC

                Jeez, that’s too bad.

                But on the bright side I and others now know that Pando is just as full of shit as the rest of ’em despite their coming on as a tough investigative group.

              3. Gaianne

                Yes, and thank you for telling this. It really is that easy.

                Usually, they don’t even have to threaten to kill you (although they would). It’s enough to get you fired or wreck your reputation. (How many whistle-blowers have found this out under Obama?)

                The higher you go, the darker the secrets, and the safer they are. You can’t tell them: Nobody wants to know.

                Where I don’t have personal knowledge, I tend to look for where the story impinges on the laws of physics. The propagandists constructing the lies rarely care about physics, and rightly so: They know well that the folks they are targeting would deny the law of conservation of momentum than to accept an unpleasant conclusion. I have friends who literally do just that. But this means that the lies are often very obvious from a practical perspective.


    2. Paul

      From your comments, it almost seems like you think the U.S. is exclusive with respect to “going to war in bad faith”. Russia annexed Crimea and has been fighting a dirty war in Ukraine for some months now.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        We don’t vote in those elections. You are more than welcome to go on your own and fight the good fight. Bon Voyage!

      2. hunkerdown

        If you feel so strongly about Your Oligarchs, why don’t you crawl under their desks and stay there?

      3. Banger

        If you read history war and bad faith go together–U.S. is no better or worse than other countries. The problem with the U.S. is that it pretends to be above it all and that is a lie. The U.S. has the sad job of being and Empire but is not allowed, due to ideology, to admit to it.

  27. The Dork of Cork

    Watched part (but could not really bring myself to watch all) of a very cringeworthy press conference with Banki Moon & Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
    at joint press conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “The people of Gaza are the victims of the brutal Hamas regime.

    When Main Battle Tanks are rolling through your neighbourhood many young people will run and some will fight – its as simple as that.
    The blood rises or falls in young people – organizations can channel that hatred but the hate starts in the ghetto
    I have made up my mind.
    A hell of a lot of bad shit has run through Schipol airport also.
    A isreali affliated security firm runs operations there…………
    Irish people know what Holland had become – later exported to England with devastating results in Ireland where we became a Proto Palestine – people who could not be easily monetized so was therefore destroyed.

    I hate to break it too yee lads but we are controlled by a Talmudic Masonic elite who first gained partial control of the world in the 1600s and near total control in the 20th century.
    In Europe not only do they control the money but almost all its laws.
    We are currently living inside their glasshouse / cogs in their demonic scarcity engine .
    Our nightmare.

    1. pdehaan

      @The Dork: Not really wanted to go into labelling here, but you’re slightly mad in a good way, challenging conventional thought. Still wondering if there’s some method to your madness.
      You’re right about the ghetto thing, and you’re definitely right about Schiphol airport. Hardly anyone remembers El-Al flight 1862 going down in Bijlmer/Amsterdam (1992) and subsequent parliamentary inquest about what it had on board (chemical substances with which produce to produce Sarin) and witnesses of men in ‘white suits’ removing evidence. This was quite a cover-up at the time and the israeli security angle is well known. Heck, even when I lived in Delft in the 80’s, just before the first Gulf War, we saw the ‘military build-up’ right before our eyes, even though supposedly we were still negotiating in good faith with Iraq.

    2. hunkerdown

      Only thanks to the decades of propaganda about submission to authority. If we instead played our game by winning rules and didn’t succumb to the bourgeois desire to fight clean (and why, when they don’t), this would be a rather different mess we’re in. I’d hazard a guess it would be a better mess on net for the proletariat and those willing to admit where they really stand.

  28. vidimi

    i also think that this is heartbreaking stuff and has contributed to my feeling down these last few days but it’s a fraction of the nightmare that is going on in gaza. 298 people shot down in what was, most likely, a case of mistaken identity is a nightmare; but soon to be 1000 slaughtered because they are seen as subhuman is something altogether more horrific. netanyahu is a monster and everytime i see him speak my body convulses at the obscenities coming out of his mouth. this is a man who gets a standing ovation every time he addresses the u.s. congress.

    i weep for all people involved but mostly for the israelis, who look at the palestinians with contempt and fear and believe that all of this killing is justified and won’t stop until only one side is left.

    1. juliania

      I share your anguish, but these two obscene occurrences feed off one another and there is no comparing the two. In both cases a civilian population is being destroyed before our horrified eyes, and the intent is as merciless in both. Each ‘helps’ distract us from the other until our souls cry out ‘enough!’

      And that is what they hope to instill – so much aversion that we can no longer bear to look.

    2. tiger

      I am Israeli and I have a Syrian friend. This weekend. in case you didn’t hear, 700 people died in the Syrian conflict. One weekend.

      My friend’s cousin, also Syrian, put up a post condemning the world for focusing too much on Gaza and not paying attention to Syria. She’s right, and she’s not even Jewish. She’s saying this because it’s true. So far in the Syrian conflict there have been close to 200,000 deaths, that’s TEN TIMES THE ENTIRE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT SINCE 1948 !!


      Not to mention the nature of ISIS and Assad vs. Israel and the Palestinians. Both us and the Palestinians are more humane than either Assad or ISIS. So what the hell???

      I just wish people would address conflicts in proportion with how many deaths there are in these conflicts, because every life is worth the same when a baby is born. The hyperbolic characterization of Netayahu as a monster is a demonization of a human being, coupled with lies. He’s not an actual monster. Explain yourself please. Why exactly are you so emotional about Netayahu? Who are you? Are you Arab? Are you Jewish? Are you suffering because of Netayahu? Are you under fire? My family is under fire, my cousin is in the Army and my reputation as a Jew is on the line. What do you have? Do you have anything on the line, or are you all talk??

        1. JCC

          Not only are we paying 20% of Israel’s defense budget but a full 1/3 of our Foreign Aid budget goes to Israel, and unlike every other single beneficiary, it’s in cash, not credit, and deposited in any bank of the State of Israel’s choice, not just American Banks…. a 1st World Country, not what Americans are told is the point of Foreign Aid.

          tigger, I can appreciate your reaction to vidimi’s comments (although I do think that BiBi operates primarily from an emotional vengeance mode due to the death of his heroic brother) but as you said, every life is worth the same when a baby is born, including Palestinian babies… and I thank God every day that I was not born a Palestinian baby into one of the largest open-air prisons in history.

        2. tiger

          That is a fair point Lambert. Though not everyone sees it in as an organized way as you do. Many would (indeed, many non-Americans do) make the same comments without the client state distinction.

  29. indio007

    “I feel like I could use Craazyman’s remedy of red wine and Xanax right now.”

    Ugh …. Gimme two please.

  30. Christopher Dale Rogers

    Although I’ve yet to say it, I should point out that I’m disgusted by the MAL Airline tragedy, I’m also disgusted what’s going on presently in Gaza and feel any death caused by intent is sole destroying – as such my heart goes out to all those across the World who’s lives are blunted by all the madness around us – its about time we all say enough is enough, forget the geo-political games, the greed that engulfs our world and try and get on with our lives, if only the USA would lead by this example, or even my own country I’d be a far happier man – as it stands, the daily grind of death for reasons mostly unknown to me are really getting me down – as a species we really are our worst enemies – whatever happened to the enlightenment is all I can add to this comment.

  31. Andrew Watts

    The reality on the ground in Ukraine hasn’t changed despite the latest incident. The Russian annexation/re-unification of Crimea is still a fait accompli. The Ukraine itself will remain an economic basket case and politically unstable. This condition will only further Russian strategic goals with the South Stream pipeline. Putin still hasn’t overtly intervened in East Ukraine, though I suspect (but cannot prove) that Russian military forces have been firing artillery across the border. Even if Kiev somehow manages to crush the secessionists an insurgency can be kept going indefinitely. Our European friends could face a very cold winter in the dark. Etc.

    The most surprising event that could be connected with Ukraine is the official German backlash against US spying. Did anyone else notice that Germany’s ire was focused exclusively on the CIA? It appears to be an incredibly contrived incident given the close relationship between our intelligence agencies.

  32. Abe, NYC

    An article by Nikolai Svanidze, a Russian journalist and historian. Published on July 21, source here, translation mine.

    The way things are on the catastrophe over Donetsk is not changing and, most likely, will not change. Unless firm and irrefutable proof surfaces of Kiev government’s guilt, a conviction that the crime was perpetrated by Donetsk separatists using our people and our weapons, will remain overwhelmingly prevailing outside Russia.

    President Putin’s conciliatory statement, which even a week ago would have been accepted as a positive and could have influenced the situation, will now influence nothing and satisfy no-one.

    Putin must convince two opposing sides of his loyalty in a way that neither can notice his smiles addressed at the other.
    This is practically impossible. Just like it’s impossible to court two jealous girls at once, in the same party and on the same night, without upsetting either.

    If Putin abandons his support to the separatists, he will be accused at home of weakness, betrayal, and a sell-out to the West.
    That spells his political death.

    If Putin continues supporting them, a huge part of the world with the most influence over politics, economy, information, and military, will see him as aiding and abetting the terrorists.
    That spells his country’s death.

    Which option is worse? For Putin, as Stalin would say, both are worse.

    What is he going to do?
    Unfortunately, the great temptation is to seal off the country with a large padlock and leave the TV on full blast.

    But that is a very short-term game.

    1. Abe, NYC

      This was published at the web site of Radio Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), one of the very few remaining independent Russian media outlets (they are actually now owned by Gazprom but have so far been allowed to maintained editorial independence). The radio station and its web site are very popular and its Editor in Chief, Alexei Venediktov, has often been recognized as the most quoted Russian journalist; Nikolai Svanidze himself is, or was, in the top 5.

    2. Paul

      I say he continues to support the separatists, and the west will do little about it. He just won’t make the mistake of giving them any more Buk missile launch systems. That was a huge mistake.

      1. Abe, NYC

        No. If it is proven that the insurgents downed the plane, Putin will try to muddy the waters, enough that most Russians and I suspect many of the NC commenters will remain convinced of the Ukrainians’ guilt. Yesterday press-conference was, I now suspect, part of that strategy.

        But just as the article says, Putin can only be saved by conclusive proof of Ukraine’s guilt, which remarkably was not forthcoming from Russia. Circumstantial evidence will not do because in the world’s opinion at this point, Ukraine has the benefit of the doubt while the insurgents are presumed guilty.

        And this is enough for the West to mobilize and apply such measures to Russia that its economy either collapses within months or has to switch into siege mode. I suspect the public’s opinion will not tolerate anything less, or at the very least that the hawks will have an easy sway over policy.

        Serves him right. But I have increasingly scary thoughts of July 1914.

        1. Henry

          Tend to agree. However, one must hope you are underestimating EU’s caution and irresolution. Germany, for example, seems willing to go quite far in accommodating Putin’s interests, no doubt partly due to their own. Germany may not have a historical success story in de-escalating nationalistic warmongering, but they are certainly acutely aware of the dangers.

      2. JCC

        Other than a YouTube video there is no proof that he gave the rebels that one, and let’s not forget that the Ukrainian Govt also owns the same missile systems.

        That’s what I don’t get in this present propaganda war, why are those that are so quick to blame Putin for all this forgetting that the Ukraine Govt also owns these same systems? And that these systems, like almost all military equipment in the Ukraine, is Russian-made and supplied.

        As Abe notes, the fact that Putin is between a very hard Rock and very hard Hard Place is, to me, just one more reason why he never would have been involved in this tragedy. He’s proven that he is not dumb so why would he put himself in the position of having to choose between “two worse options”.

        Ultimately, the U.S. keeps on calling for Putin to ‘fess up and many seem to believe that because the US says so it must be true, but it just doesn’t make any sense at all. I want proof.

    3. susan the other

      Stalin said “… both are worse.” That top’s Rummy’s unknown unknowns and his simplistic paradoxes. It even tops his fake unknown unknowns.

    4. Banger

      Well we are still young in the crisis. The USG seems pretty confident their POV will dominate the Parts of the world directly controlled by the Empire–and their POV may win out in the end–but there is enough disaffection with the US-based Empire to blunt that and Putin may have a lot of sympathy in non-Western areas. This is going to be a long struggle.

  33. Sluggeaux

    Reading the statements of the Russian military linked above made by blood run cold. Given the recent success of the “Novorossiyan” rebels downing “Ukranian” junta aircraft on terror-bombing missions, is it not possible that the “Ukrainian” junta military jet was attempting to fly in the FFI “shadow” of a civil airliner diverted over the war zone by “Ukrainian” junta ATC for that purpose? Is it also possible that a defensive missile fired at the “Ukrainian” junta warplane locked on the larger target and brought down the civil airliner that the warplane was attempting to hide under? Chilling.

    To repeat an earlier post about the roots of the Ukraine Crisis; Looking at the context and listening to the actual statements of Obama and Kerry, I can only conclude that their proxies fomented the Maidan Coup d’Etat, and that their motivation was to give Mr. Putin a black eye after he made them look like fools over their “Wag the Dog” attempted war in Syria.

    “Ukraine” as a nation-state is nothing but a fiction produced after of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Czarist empires followed quickly by Bolshevik pogroms, famines, and ethnic cleansings perpetrated by Stalin and Khruschev briefly punctuated by Nazi German pogroms, famines, and ethnic cleansings, and finally by the disorderly collapse of the Soviet Union. The peoples of that region have no history of democracy or self-determination in the past century, and Obama and Kerry’s platitudes after fomenting an illegal Coup d’Etat are as embarrassingly disingenuous as Johnson’s Tonkin Gulf lies or Bush’s WMD falsehoods.

    It defies reason and belief that there is no discussion about the fact that the illegitimate government of “Ukraine” has been terror-bombing civilian targets, or that the BuK is a defensive missile system. Kerry’s blaming of Putin and Russia ought to be reasonably stood on its head as an invitation for them to invade Donetsk as peace-keepers — not at all a bad idea, except that it may create a massive wave of non-Russian refugees heading west.

    1. Paul

      Is it still a junta after an election?

      Are you advocating returning western Ukraine to Poland, since you don’t regard Ukraine to be a valid state? What other invalid states do you see in the world which need to be annexed?

      1. vidimi

        depends. is sisi a democratic president?

        hard to credibly proclaim democracy if the party that won the previous elections was not allowed to run.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      There are a variety of possible conclusions including a separatist shut down. Given U.S. recent history, the silence from the administration when it comes to evidence despite a series of different accusations is deafening, and I think a point is being reached where evidence will not be believed.

      Needless to say speculation dismisses the common sense ranting of the neo-Palins.

  34. Chris

    I am a bit surprised that I haven’t seen more comments on the obvious parallel between what the West did in Libya and the unfolding disaster in Eastern Ukraine.

    No matter what your ideology, handing sophisticated weapons to undisciplined insurgents has a way of causing blow back. In Libya we got a dead US ambassador, countless dead Libyans and a capitol with an airport that now looks like a scene out of Mad Max.

    Also I wonder how the primacy of economic considerations plays into the events in Ukraine. Risk management 101 would have shut down the airspace over Donetsk and surrounding areas weeks ago. But there are those in the IMF who want to see loans paid off, and its kind of hard to have a functioning economy when half your country’s airspace is closed to commercial air traffic.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Libya must be forgotten or Versailles might look like lunatics out for blood. Libya’s outcome hasn’t been forgotten. It’s why Syria intervention never found support or would find support even if Assad was using chemical weapons. Obama,’s behavior wasn’t forgotten.

      The bots aren’t swarming because they are confident. They need to create cover for Obama’s lack of evidence and frankly wild assertions. Even if Obama does have evidence, his recent behavior should raise questions about his judgement and competence to make decisions given recent history. Obama should know better than to sit on evidence while his numbers have tanked and there is a history of lying.

    1. Henry

      It’s right there: “Fists fly during a meeting of Ukraine’s parliament as deputies vote on increasing the number of troops battling pro-Russian separatists who they accuse of downing a Malaysian Airlines flight.”

      They guy shielded from the aggressors is, I believe, the pro-Russian MEP they tried and as far as I know succeeded in throwing out of the session.

      1. FederalismForever

        They probably all received cash payments from Victoria Nuland in exchange for engaging in “de-stabilizing” activities.

        If the U.S. did not exist, this fight would not have happened.

        1. lambert strether

          It’s not blocked for me. The Internet is a hostile computing environment. Not everything happens for a nefarious purpose (unless you count DRM as a nefarious purpose (OK, OK!)).

          “I was at a fistfight and a parliamentary session broke out!”

        2. Ned Ludd

          YouTube and other video sites block some videos from playing in certain countries (or only allow a video to play in certain countries). Not sure about Reuters, but they may have an agreement to block the video in certain countries, depending on copyright or other issues.

  35. Paul Tioxon

    Yevtushenko and Ginsberg, two poets, one from Russia and one from the USofA meeting at a poetry gathering around the time of the Sandinista war in Nicaragua, toasted each others country: Yevtushenko said: “To our 2 shit countries” Ginsberg toasted as well: “Yes, to our 2 shits”.

    Let me propose that toast once again with the timeless mind of the poet, the more things change, the more they stay the same, join me one and all a toast to Russia and the USofA, 2 shit countries. Thank god they were allies who won WWII together, and divided up the world into 2 parts, to each his own. Thank god, imagine what sore losers these 2 shit countries would make if they lost. In victory, they were both insufferable, now look at them.

  36. Rosario

    This airline crash and the current version of Gaza invasion are exposing the absurdities of the “information age”. We are as ideological and lost in the weeds as ever. I’m certain that clear explanations for any event is impossible. Ironically, the net has made things worse. The problem with information as it relates to the web is that anyone can have it and anyone can create it. So, even if one has “real facts” or “clear evidence” reality will ultimately reveal itself through the movement of the herd. This is where a well educated population with solid critical thinking skills is a must. If we can’t “know” conclusively, at least we can discuss and reason our way to a common knowledge of some social or political unknown.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      “Information Age” should be “Disinformation Age”: the age in which we succeeded in automating the fabrication and massive propagation of propaganda.

      “A well educated population with critical thinking skills that can discuss and reason its way to common knowledge”: sadly not very likely in the Orwell-meets-McLuhan computer world.

    2. hunkerdown

      Well, a reasoned discussion disrupted by multiple provocateurs is very hard to distinguish from full metal eristic.

  37. Banger

    What I still haven’t read–and there are too many comments here to read all of them–is the motivation on the part of the rebels and/or Putin has for shooting down a civilian airliner. This is very similar to the Syrian gas crisis wher everybody assumed Assad did it when now this appears to not have been the case–there was no benefit for Assad in gassing the neighborhood. For those of you who, for reasons that appear to me to be irrational, believe the American government despite its long history of lying in matters like these I can only say I’m sad for you. There are methods to arrive at some semblance of the truth and Lambert has suggested some, why not try using rules of evidence and an international criminal investigation. That would be better than to take the view of professional liars at face value.

    1. Vatch

      The rebels had no motivation to shoot down a civilian airliner. They had great motivation to shoot down a Ukrainian military plane. It’s very likely they made a tragic mistake by shooting down a plane that was not what they thought it was.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I have seen commentors state on earlier threads that military planes generally fly at much lower altitudes. Can anyone confirm or correct?

          1. Abe, NYC

            This is the original recording of the press-conference, with the original translation. Which is lower quality but I suspect better accuracy than RT’s. Scroll down for pictures.

            Note 2 facts:

            1. The unidentified jet is referenced beginning 11:45. Note that the officer says they “suppose” it was Su-25. RT’s translation says it was “probably” Su-25, which is a stronger statement (the Russian word in question is “предположительно” – “supposedly”, or “we suppose,” or “it is supposed.”). But even at the picture they don’t say it was a Su-25. So, while there was likely a jet in the area, the Russians have no firm evidence it was a Su-25, while much of Russia-aligned media treat that as an established fact.

            2. Whether or not Su-25 is capable of climbing to 10,000m is being disputed but it likely can for a short time. But scroll the video to 17:37, when another officer describes radar records and begins to talk about the destruction of the Boeing.

            At 18:18, he talks about a new aircraft – likely a military jet – appearing on the radar *after* the Boeing had been hit and its speed decreased to 200kmh. And at 19:50, he says that the military jet had not been detected before because the radar could only detect aircraft over 5,000m of altitude.

            Conclusion: at the time of the hit, the jet in question was below 5,000m. Whether or not a Su-25 is capable of climbing to 10,000m is entirely irrelevant and is a distraction. Not to mention the fact it may not even have been a Su-25. Meanwhile, even the BBC has a whole article with several expert opinions on the maximum altitude of Su-25.

            If anyone goes over the video and confirm the findings, please post. I would appreciate second opinion.

      2. Abe, NYC

        Yes, I think this is by far the likeliest theory. I believe it is extremely unlikely the shooting down was deliberate. However, Ukrainians may also have accidentally downed the airliner, but I think it’s much less likely than that the rebels did it.

  38. Maju

    Another interesting piece I happen to go through recently on Eastern Ukraine is a RAND Corporation’s document in which they seem to instruct the Kiev Junta to decimate the male population of East Ukraine, keep the media out of the region, and utterly destroy the heavy industry of Donbass. Naturally RAND Corporation denies its authenticity but the paper and content are very plausible:

    direct link:


    1. hunkerdown

      I seem to remember two points against that piece’s verity: a) Letterhead doesn’t match b) Such bald language would be highly unusual for a bourgeois think tank or its clients.

    2. Lexington

      Naturally RAND Corporation denies its authenticity but the paper and content are very plausible

      Very plausible to the extremely gullible, you mean.

      This document has “forgery” written all over it. It begins in medias res, without a header or introduction, which obviously points to fabrication. Also, as hunkerdown points out the language doesn’t sound anything like a RAND report. The author uses directive language (“marshal law shall be introduced in defiant regions”, “internment camps shall be set up outside the settlements that have been cleared”) which is uncharacteristic of and inappropriate to a document supposedly prepared by technocrats working in an advisory capacity. Phrases like “air strikes against…bunched-up troops” shows the author is unfamiliar with military parlance, and the generally blunt language lacks the polish and finesse one would expect from RAND, whose literature is generally written in bland, business approved bureaucratese, including the liberal use of euphemisms (“enhanced interrogation techniques”, “extraordinary rendition”) to obfuscate unpalatable facts.

      The forger obviously didn’t even take the time to familiarize themselves with what a think tank report “should” sound like – but then he probably figured such attention to detail would be wasted on people who are obviously all to willing to believe anything that affirms their prejudices.

      1. Maju

        “It begins in medias res, without a header or introduction”…

        What medias res? It goes quite straight to the point but it certainly has header (“Memorandum on the advisable course of action in case the peace plan fails”) and an introductory paragraph.

        As for the rest, I can’t judge.

        1. Lexington

          Maybe you’re not familiar with business communications conventions. A memo will normally have the date, originator, distribution list and subject listed at the top. If you’re forging a memo from an organization with which you are unfamiliar providing plausible information of this type can be difficult. You could certainly find out the names of some principals at RAND, but what if the person who supposedly wrote the memo was speaking at a conference on the relevance of MAD doctrine in the 21st century at the University of Chicago on the day the memo was circulated? What if it turns out one of the names on the distribution list is someone who left RAND six months ago to work for Greenpeace? Who are you going to plausibly nominate as the (presumably Ukrainian) recipient of RAND’s wisdom? There are a thousand ways an amateur forger could get tripped up on little details like this.

    1. Abe, NYC

      But that’s nothing new really, is it? The US never claimed it was Russian military officers who did it, just that the missile was fired from a rebel-controlled area, or am I mistaken? To establish identities of the crew (from a sattelite?) would be very difficult to say the least.

      When are we going to see the release of US data? That would be really big news.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The idea that the shot was launched from a “rebel controlled area” has been debated, and I am not up on where that stands.

        The debris fell in rebel controlled area, but the plane was 33,000 feet up and going at presumably over 400 MPH when hit. The debris would continue moving forward after impact. So you need to work back from the presumed location where it was hit and determine the range of possible locations where a BUK could target a plane at that altitude successfully.

        1. Banger

          Some one on Saker’s site worked out that, if it was a missile, it would have had to be shot form Ukranian controlled territory.

        2. Abe, NYC

          Russians determined the probable location of the hit pretty accurately: Ministry of Defense press conference, beginning 17:58; it’s also referenced early in the video. They don’t say explicitly that the hit was over rebel-controlled area but it’s almost certain they would have stated if it weren’t so. They do say the jet was within range of Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems, and showed satellite pictures that supposedly confirm this.

          But my point regarding the intelligence briefing was, there was very little new information. This is the only new fact I found:

          Other scenarios — such as that the Ukrainian military shot down the plane — are implausible, they said. No Ukrainian surface-to-air missile system was in range.

          This, of course, contradicts Russian statements from yesterday.

          They also said at the briefing that they had authenticated some but not all audio and video recordings released by Ukrainians or found on social media.

          And that’s all. Everything else, including the claim they had solid evidence that the missile was fired from a rebel-held area, had been said before by Obama, Kerry, and Power. But they did not produce any evidence previously unavailable.

          So they appear to be holding the fort until radar and satellite evidence can be released. I hope.

          1. Maju

            I can’t read Russian but in the recent battery of questions posed by Moscow and echoed by RT (→, there are some very pertinent here, Abe:

            8. Where did the launcher – from the video circulated by Western media and showing a Buk system being moved allegedly from Ukraine to Russia – come from? As the video was made on the territory controlled by Kiev, where was the launcher being transported?

            “I’d like to say that the information we have presented here is based on objective and reliable data from various technical systems – unlike the groundless accusations made against Russia,” said Kartopolov.

            [follows relevant video:

            “For example, media circulated a video supposedly showing a Buk system being moved from Ukraine to Russia. This is clearly a fabrication. This video was made in the town of Krasnoarmeisk, as evidenced by the billboard you see in the background, advertising a car dealership at 34 Dnepropetrovsk Street. Krasnoarmeysk has been controlled by the Ukrainian military since May 11.

            9. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?

    2. Martin Finnucane

      Yup. And how many hours after the Russian MOD press conference?

      So is Putin about to throw the separatists under the bus? “We endorse your alibi, and you get to keep Crimea, but we [meaning US/NATO] keep eastern Ukraine.” Or, one hopes, perhaps Respectable Opinion realizes that its story is unraveling. Or, perhaps, some deep rift within the deep state become manifest. All I know is that how ever it shakes out, my opinion has absolutely no effect on public affairs one way or another, and that assertions to the contrary are simply the kind of lies that white people tell themselves.

      The mind reels, then comes torpor, and finally a Xanax spritzer (called a Craazyman) and off to bed.

    3. FederalismForever

      After all the discussion and speculation about what happened, isn’t the tentative explanation offered by these (un-named) U.S. intelligence agents the best working hypothesis to date about what transpired?

      1. Banger

        I don’t see why that is true–we know that U.S. intel makes up stuff always. I think we are still driving in neutral. Without an international investigation using normal rules of evidence there is very little to say at this time other than we know who has benefited from the event. It’s still he-said-she-said and the two antagonists both lie. Which one lies more? The U.S., but then it has more opportunity and more necessity to lie.

    4. Paul Niemi

      The intelligence officials said it was the pro-Russian separatists, with a SA-11 missile, in the Eastern Ukraine. That is the most likely scenario. There was no evidence of direct Russian involvement, but they noted Russia had created the conditions for the shooting down of MH17 by arming the separatists and providing training. The motive is that the separatists thought they were downing a Ukrainian military plane, because they had already shot down 12 of them. The intelligence officials said they did not know the names of the missile crew, or if they had trained in Russia, or if any Russians were present when the fatal missile was fired. Me: this scenario is still an outrage, but others looked even worse. Also it will be reassuring if the government turns out to be telling the truth here, but it won’t change people’s skepticism based on hidden agendas.

      1. Paul Niemi

        And now there is a story at Bloomberg saying photos of a fragment of fuselage from near the cockpit of the jetliner show perforations consistent with a ground fired missile. This is according to IHS Jane’s. The evidence is consistent with the SA-11 missile which is programmed to explode just short of the target sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel into the targeted aircraft.

          1. Paul Niemi

            You and I remember Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland. The investigators worked to assemble the airplane back together piece by piece from debris that was scattered over 50 miles. Were we more shocked then and less now? Have we grown somewhat used to the idea of airliners falling from the sky and bodies everywhere? I hope not, and you’re right about inspecting the actual fuselage.

      2. Martin Finnucane

        Russia had created the conditions for the shooting down of MH17 by arming the separatists and providing training.

        If the Russians had the good sense and decency to sit by quietly as Western nations and their intelligence services supported a violent coup spearheaded by fascist shock troops in a neighboring and strategically sensitive country, then there wouldn’t be any problem. For that matter, if the russophone citizens of Ukraine had the good sense and decency to just die, those poor souls on that doomed flight would be alive today.

    5. Andrew Watts

      This doesn’t change anything. We need to stop the Soviet Third Reich. War, I say! WAAAAAAAAR!


    6. hunkerdown

      No, but I can say feint. It still keeps the Bad People finger pointing directly at the separatists. After pressing that news so hard, a walk back to the status quo ante line makes the status quo ante line more believable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        But it’s about plausible deniability. Obama’s cronies will say we didn’t understand his nuanced arguments.

  39. steviefinn

    Might need sub-sections here, I’m worn out,

    Wouldn’t it be good if all those who scream for war had to actually go & fight it & how about half the battles had to be fought at home like a football ( Soccer ) league – Time for bed,

  40. Thumper

    It’s the timing of all this that bothers me. The US is using MH17 to forment a wedge between Europe and Russia but Russia isn’t the objective. Europe is.

    1. Russia doesn’t need European revenues as much as it did, esp not after that huge half-trillion deal with China (May 21).

    2. A move by the US at this time also does not stop the BRICS bank, which is due to start lending within the next 2 years (July 14). A move by the US should have occurred 5 years ago if they wanted to head this off.

    3. US companies are building ports in the US to export natural gas to Europe (March 5, NYT).

    4. Clinton urges Europe to “accelerate efforts” to find alternatives to Gazprom (July 17).

    This whole false-flag is really about having another string to control Europe. NATO and energy. Putin must be wondering WhyTF the EU ministers can’t see this, but is just sitting pretty. Europe is now ripe for plunder. Only the reality of European winter energy needs (still several significant months away) can stop this. Nice play all round (politics, timing) by the Americans.

    1. vidimi

      spot on. the goal is to ween europe off russia’s gas, sell fracked american gas to europe, and sell fracking licenses to european countries.

      obama made this clear in his speech in brussels.

  41. zapster

    Here are some sites that carry behind-the-lines accounts.

    This is Col. Strelkov’s official site where he posts his reports.
    It’s in russian, of course, but you can load it into chrome for an on-the-fly translation where the videos will also work.

    Be aware that he has disowned the site referred to as vkontakte, or for short. Anything posted there may or may not be real.

    1. zapster

      “After all the discussion and speculation about what happened, isn’t the tentative explanation offered by these (un-named) U.S. intelligence agents the best working hypothesis to date about what transpired?”

      Actually, the Russian published satellite data seems like the best to me, since it’s the *only* data published to date. There is absolutely nothing but unsubstantiated statements coming out of Kiev and the US.

      Some more Russian links:
      Also in Russian on the supposed sightings of BUKs in the area:

      This appears to be a forum where volunteers are posting: Forum
      And from the infamous, endless videos. Some quite graphic, and they’re probably real enough for a sense of what it’s like there: videos
      As I said in a prior post, this is more of a fan site, and anything posted here may be faked. So use judgement. I think these videos are mostly from primary sources though.

  42. NotTimothyGeithner

    I just pulled out a roll of tin foil, and it occurred to me that the GOP isn’t being as shrill as I might expect. Usually, they would be calling for Obama’s impeachment, but most people would ignore them. Obama’s failures have largely been self-inflicted, not from the GOP dazzling anyone with their mindless diatribes.

    Is this the October surprise? The President is blamed or praised on foreign policy.

    They certainly hoped Benghazi would usher in Mittens, but maybe, they decided they needed more drastic measures. Perhaps, they encouraged the Ukrainians knowing full well Obama and his gang are too stupid to not over react. Homeland Security was always a Republican loyalty plan and an effort to purge non-Republican team players.

  43. VietnamVet

    The American propaganda has framed Vladimir Putin as the villain. The President’s language and his Assistants spin are clear. The official US policy is regime change in Russia. Putin has joined Assad and Gadhafi on the “Get rid of him” list. The reasons are to loot Russia and abort the BRICs monetary system. Neo-Nazis, Right Sector, and the Ukraine National Guard are America’s foot soldiers in this war since the volunteer US Army is worn out after fighting Muslims for 13 years and restarting the draft would speed up the third American Revolution. Flight MH-17 passengers are collateral damage in this war.

    The FT link above has a picture and expert comments on a piece of the MH-17 wreckage from below the port cockpit windows. It was riddled with shrapnel from a warhead exploding at the top front of the plane. A Ukraine transport at 21,000 feet was shot down the day before by a missile fired by the rebels. The video of the black smoke from the burning MH-17 wreckage showed silver chaff floating down. This together with the Russian briefing indicates that a Ukrainian SU-25 ground attack plane was flying around the area at the time of the shoot down. The most likely scenario is that a SA-11 ground to air missile was fired by the rebels at the Ukrainian plane but instead it accidentally shot down the 777 flying over a war zone.

    No planes would have been shot down and no life would have been lost if America had negotiated an end to the Ukrainian Civil War. But, the Eurasian War is underway and won’t end until either the USA or Russia is defeated. Neither politician is capable of stepping back and convincing their oligarchs that peace is better than war profits or gaining control of more energy resources. We all will be collateral damage from this war before it ends.

    1. JCC

      Let’s face it, this plane would not have been shot down and no life would have been lost if someone with common sense had made sure that the flight path would not have been over a war zone where 12 planes had recently been shot down.

  44. optimader

    Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.’
    — Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

  45. Maju

    Now Kiev (in yet another Russia-bashing attempt, quite revealing inconsistent with previous claims) says that the two SU-25 downed today over rebel territory could never have been shot down by the People’s Militia because they do not have the capability (the Militia claims to have downed them with manpads, what is perfectly possible if the jets were not flying at their highest range):

    “Missiles launched from manpads don’t reach such altitudes,” Lysenko said. “The planes have been shot down at the height of 5,200 meters. Only more powerful missile launchers are capable of doing that…[The planes] were downed professionally, the terrorists [i.e. the Militia] don’t have such experts.”


    So (according to Kiev) they could not shoot planes flying at (or probably under) 16,000 feet but they did shoot a plane flying at 33,000 feet. I just cannot believe a word from the Kiev Junta: it’s all inconsistent propaganda that only the most blindly faithful could swallow.

  46. Park Nihrs

    Ukraine 2014-07-25 NPR

    NPR reported that someone on the OSCE team (or an Australian? I was not listening closely) saw previously undiscovered pieces of fuselage in a forested area. Some of the fuselage looked like shrapnel, or like it had been shot at – holes in the metal that could be from machine gun fire.

    An SU-25 was earlier reported – by novorussian fighters “aka “rebels”– to have been near the MH-17 flight path (whichwas following a course set by Kiev Air Traffic Control, north of the routes taken by previous ten flights).

    The story aired about 8:15 Eastern, following a story on Gaza/Hamas/Israel. It should repeat 15 minutes past some hour probably 10:15 EDT if anyone has time to listen for it.
    It would be interesting if the part about appearance of machine gun fire is left out.

    From The Catastrophe of #MH17: BBC in the Search of the “#BUK” – The Video Report Censored by BBC
    Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
    Note: Videos & a PDF of the Google Web-cache Have Been Preserved and Are Available Upon Request
    Transcript of the BBC Video Report:

    DPR Representative: Here it is.

    Olga Ivshina, BBC: The black boxes from the crashed Boeing are finally being transferred into the hands of the experts. However, how much can they tell us?
    The recorders logged the coordinates and the heading of the aircraft at the time of the incident and may have recorded the sound of the explosion. However, they will not tell us what exactly caused the explosion.
    The inhabitants of the nearby villages are certain that they saw military aircraft in the sky shortly prior to the catastrophe. According to them, it actually was the jet fighters that brought down the Boeing.

    Eyewitness #1: There were two explosions in the air. And this is how it broke apart. And [the fragments] blew apart like this, to the sides. And when …
    Eyewitness #2: … And there was another aircraft, a military one, beside it. Everybody saw it.
    Eyewitness #1: Yes, yes. It was flying under it, because it could be seen. It was proceeding underneath, below the civilian one.
    Eyewitness #3: There were sounds of an explosion. But they were in the sky. They came from the sky. Then this plane made a sharp turn-around like this. It changed its trajectory and headed in that direction [indicating the direction with her hands].

    Olga Ivshina, BBC: The Ukrainian government rejects this version of events. They believe that the Boeing was shot down using a missile from a “BUK” complex that came in from the direction of Russia.

  47. Kevin

    Government of Ukraine Collapses

    Collapse of Ukraine Government: Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigns amidst Pressures Exerted by the IMF

    Washington Is Escalating the Orchestrated Ukrainian “Crisis” to War

    US State Department Tells Lies To Justify War

    1. Maju

      Thanks, Kevin. I read nothing about that collapse of the Kiev government neither in Western nor Russian media, not even in the alternative media I am subscribed to via RSS.

      There has been almost no mention either to the banishment of major political parties such as the Party of Regions (which won the last elections) or the Communist Party (third or fourth largest force and strong competitor with the Party of Regions for the votes in Eastern and Southern Ukraine especially). As happened with the Presidential elections, where independent candidates could not run, this implies that whatever elections that may come will be just another fraud in which only the fascists and their quasi-fascist allies will be able to participate.

      It would seem from what Global Research reports that the rejection of the IMF package is nothing but a populist maneuver in order to refurbish the Parliament and in fact consolidate the fascist regime. IMF package approval will come afterwards (of course).

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