That’s the claim, anyway. And, not knowing for sure if the DM was on the plane or not, it looks plausible. ABC News is treating it so.
To debunk the distortions of warmongers is not to defend tyranny.
How should libertarians assess the crisis in Ukraine? Some would have us believe that a true commitment to liberty entails (1) glorifying the “Euromaidan revolution” and the government it installed in Kiev, (2) welcoming, excusing, or studiously ignoring US involvement with that revolution and government, and (3) hysterically demonizing Vladimir Putin and his administration for Russia’s involvement in the affair. Since Ron Paul refuses to follow this formula or to remain silent on the issue, these “NATO-tarians,” as Justin Raimondo refers to them, deride him as an anti-freedom, anti-American, shill for the Kremlin.
Dr. Paul takes it all in stride of course, having endured the same kind of smears and dishonest rhetorical tricks his entire career. As he surely knows, the price of being a principled anti-interventionist is eternal patience. Still, it must be frustrating. After all he has done to teach Americans about the evils of empire and the bitter fruits of intervention, there are still legions of self-styled libertarians whose non-interventionism seems to go little further than admitting that the Iraq War was “a mistake,” and who portray opposition to US hostility against foreign governments as outright support for those governments.
“Yes, the Iraq War was clearly a mistake, but we have to confront Putin; we can’t let Iran ‘get nukes;’ we’ve got to save the Yazidis on the mountain; we must crush ISIS, et cetera, et cetera. What are you, a stooge of the Czar/Ayatollah/Caliph?”
Some of these same libertarians supported Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, and presumably laughed along with the rest of us when the neocons tried to paint him as “pro-Saddam” for opposing the Iraq War and for debunking the lies and distortions that were used to sell it. Yet, today they do not hesitate to tar Dr. Paul as a “confused Pro-Putin libertarian” over his efforts to oppose US/NATO interventions in Ukraine and against Russia. Such tar has been extruded particularly profusely by an eastern-European-heavy faction of Students for Liberty which might be dubbed “Students for Collective Security.”
Cui bono? Who benefits? Who stood to gain? That is the first question everyone should ask with any potential crime (although of course it’s not the only one). Yet, that is the question that is being generally ignored regarding the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Instead, the western media leaps to “whodunnit?” only to immediately answer their own question with, “Well obviously either Russia, the separatists, or both.”
The reason for this is obvious. If they were to even consider the “qui bono?” question, they would have to admit that there is virtually no way that either Russia or the Donetsk separatists could possibly have expected to benefit from downing an airline full of internationals. There was no strategic value in it, and they couldn’t have expected it to be blamed in western media on anyone else or to do anything other than galvanize world opinion against them. Therefore, if either did do it (which is highly unlikely, given that the Russians were not directly fighting in the area, and the separatists were most likely not prepared to reach a flight at that altitude, given the limitations of their equipment and experience), it was almost surely by mistake.
This does not eliminate any culpability and liability they might carry, but it does make ridiculous their characterization by some as mustache-twirling super-villains, on the part of the Russians, or crazed international terrorists, on the part of the separatists, out to murder any citizen of the free world who wanders into their grasp. It should also knock the legs out from any attempt to use this tragedy as a justification for the U.S. to increase intervention, for the E.U. to increase sanctions, or for world opinion to deny the separatists’ right to self-determination.
If the Ukrainian government downed the plane (which they were fully equipped to do), it might have been by mistake on their part as well, but not necessarily. That is because they, in contrast, could very well have expected to gain by downing the plane, for precisely the opposite reason: namely, that it was very likely that the western media, already sympathetic with them anyway, would pin the blame on their enemies, as of course they actually did.
The situation is similar to the gas attack that was almost used as casus belli by the U.S. for bombing Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Especially after Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line”, the international fighters trying to overthrow Assad had everything to benefit by attacking locals with such weapons, since it could easily be pinned on the Syrian government, and Assad had nothing. Ignoring this obvious fact, the political class used the incident to (unsuccessfully, thankfully) try to convince the western public to support airstrikes on Syria. And the most likely interest-analysis assessment of the situation turned out to be the correct one, as subsequent conclusive evidence showed that Syrian government forces could not have been behind the sarin attack, and it very likely may have been Syrian rebels provided with chemical weapons by Turkey.
And yet, Russia and the separatists had even less to gain from an atrocity than the Syrian government, since Assad could have at least conceivably gained extremely short-sighted strategic benefits from gassing his enemies, whereas the former could gain absolutely nothing from killing tourists.
Speaking of cui bono, not even the biggest sell-outs in the establishment media stand to gain from the nuclear holocaust they are risking by whipping up anti-Russian hysteria in the west and tension between two nuclear powers. So they should seriously consider going off-script for once, ask the most basic questions, and be honest about the most obvious truths for a change.
The empire is in a particularly testy and truculent mood. Two of its appendages have, virtually simultaneously, eschewed ceasefires in their respective campaigns of aggression. Both have bombarded civilian centers with airstrikes, and Ukraine has been rolling in armored vehicles, while Israel is preparing to do the same. As Jason Ditz reports:
Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich today ruled out any ceasefire negotiations with Hamas, as the Israeli military continues to escalate airstrikes against the tiny Gaza Strip, and is building up for a ground invasion.
Having taken Slovyansk earlier this week, Ukrainian officials are increasingly bellicose about their ongoing civil war, demand unconditional, unilateral disarmament by the rebels before any future discussions. “There will be no more unilateral ceasefires” by Ukrainian troops, announced Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey, while other officials promised a “nasty surprise” for any of the eastern rebels that continue to resist their takeover. (…) “…the Ukrainian military is increasingly using not only airstrikes, but armored vehicles in its offensives.”
With Ukraine, as it always does with Israel, the U.S. government, which funds and arms both, defends its actions as “defending itself.” Propping up such merciless savagery is unbelievably reckless on the part of U.S. policymakers. It is precisely this kind of mass brutalization of Arabs that has resulted in incidents of blowback like 9/11. And now, even as the empire doubles down on this treatment of Arabs, it is so suicidally stupid as to actually extend it to Russian-speaking people, right on the border of nuclear Russia.
Demonize Putin all you want, but never forget that control over Russia’s mountain of H-bombs is, in the final analysis, in the hands of the Russian people. And it is far from impossible that the “blowback” rage and hatred to come from grinding Russian-speakers under the imperial boot will not be dissimilar from the blowback of doing the same to Arabs; only this time with potentially thermonuclear consequences. How, after all, do you think it makes Russians feel to see pictures like this, which is from a Ukrainian airstrike on Russian-speakers in early June?
And no, you hubris-addled neocons, not even regime-change against Putin would solve the problem. If anything his popularity is putting a lid on the outrage, because the Russians trust him to stand up for them, and therefore give him leeway for compromise.
Stop the madness now.
Attorney Phillip Crawford and Antiwar.com’s economist David Henderson are spearheading a protest Opposing U.S. Intervention in Ukraine. The demonstration is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13 staring at 4:00 PM. The protest held at Window-on-the-bay in Monterey, California on Del Monte Blvd near Camino El Estero, across from the McDonald’s restaurant. Professor Henderson is the co-chair of the Peace Coalition of Monterey County and a leader in Libertarians for Peace. Libertarians have been in the forefront against the countless wars conducted by United States against nations that have not attacked America.
For more information, please contact Lawrence Samuels, Co-chair of Libertarians for Peace of Monterey County at 831-238-5058.
Yesterday would have been uber-diplomat Richard Holbrooke’s 72nd birthday. He died December 13, 2010 while on the job as our top envoy to Afghanistan, and one can’t help thinking that whatever 1960’s idealism still existed in terms of making that country a better place, died with him. At least symbolically.
That is not to say that Richard “bulldozer” Holbrooke wasn’t a strident advocate for the use of military force — he was for sure, and I believe it was only to his and our ultimate detriment. But unlike his neoconservative cohorts in Washington, Holbrooke believed in starting wars (Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Iraq) as a matter of humanitarian intervention, not merely for “securing the realm” or for preserving “western interests.” That is not to say his positions on those wars were any better than those of his neocon peers, it’s merely a distinction, one being that humanitarian interventionists like Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton actually believed American power could transform societies. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, have shown time and again that while they are quite good at breaking things (and regimes), putting Humpty Dumpty back together again was never high on the priority list.
I raise the spirit of Richard Holbrooke now because I heard an old clip of him speaking on P.O.T.U.S Radio on Wednesday, in tribute to his birthday. It referred to the day in 2009 he was named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and there were a number of VIPs there to share in what was probably his last true moment in the sun. The radio spot tracked his Associated Press obituary, which noted his early service as a provincial representative for the U.S. Agency for International Development in South Vietnam and then as an aide to two U.S. ambassadors in Saigon during the Vietnam War:
Holbrooke spotted an old friend in the audience, John Negroponte, his one-time roommate in Saigon (the former South Vietnamese capital now called Ho Chi Minh City) who later was the first director of national intelligence and a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
“We remember those days well, and I hope we will produce a better outcome this time,” Holbrooke said.
This seems so sad, veering into Shakespearean territory. Here is man who spent his entire life grooming to be in a position to produce “a better outcome” than Vietnam, and then he helps, in essence, to duplicate it, by supporting a military invasion that ripped the fabric of Iraqi society apart and turned nearly every religious and ethnic group against us at some point during the last 10 years . The U.S spent trillions and strained its powerful military and sent millions of Iraqis fleeing — and to what end?
By the time the Bush Administration was on its way out and Holbrooke could have put his diplomatic skills to the test for a Democrat in Afghanistan, the world had unfortunately moved on. The military was everything, not just a means to getting men like Holbrooke to the negotiating table. The new president seemed happy to keep the military on this course, whether that was to hell in a hand basket didn’t appear to matter, as long as the brass got blamed and some kind of deadline for withdrawal could be achieved.
So, after a voluminous career that stretched back to the Kennedy Administration, Holbrooke found himself patronized and later ignored by the young whippersnapper President, who never seemed to let him flex his legendary skills to get the job done for “Af-Pak” the way he had presumably did for the Balkans. Afghan President Karzai appeared to hate him, preferring military men like Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who had gobs of fun at Holbrooke’s expense in 2010, right in front of Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. McChrystal lost his job because of it, but Holbrooke looked very much the weaker man throughout the entire episode.
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Holbrooke’s own ego didn’t do him any favors (more than once being called a ‘bull in a china shop’), making him as many enemies as friends during his 2009-2010 stint, one thing is clear: the military was (and remains) in control of the entire war and foreign policy effort in Af-Pak. The State Department as Holbrooke had known it was and is a shell of its former self — strangled by the petty bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom, subservient to the military mission, always begging for scraps at the trough.
And the military was — and is — not negotiating. In fact, “negotiation” and “diplomacy” seem like quaint terms these days, right behind “Geneva Convention” and “law of war.” Depending on the “deal” the Obama Administration makes with Karzai for post-2014 military relations, the U.S could likely leave Afghanistan the same way it left Iraq, a country on the brink of disaster.
Holbrooke seems to have sensed this was coming down the road, perhaps staring up at the future from his diminished perch had made him see things more clearly. James Mann, who wrote extensively about Holbrooke for his book The Obamians in 2012, quotes Holbrook’s wife, Katy Marton:
“He thought that this (Afghanistan) could become Obama’s Vietnam,” she said. “Some of the conversations in the Situation Room reminded him of conversations in the Johnson White House. When he raised that, Obama didn’t want to hear it.”
There was even a question over his last words, the first reports being that he told his doctor “to stop this war.” The context in which he said this has been in dispute (his doctor says it was made in “painful banter” as he awaited the surgery from which he never emerged, alive).
It was clear that the humiliation, his isolation, the failure of any way forward in Afghanistan had taken its toll, however, and was foremost on his mind when he collapsed. According to Mann’s well documented account:
On Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, Richard Holbrooke played tennis on Long Island with Bill Drozdiak, the president of the American Council on Germany, a former foreign correspondent who became friendly with Holbrooke when both were living in Europe. They played for about an hour. Drozdiak thought Holbrooke seemed unusually pale, pudgy and out of shape, as if he’d been working too hard.
Afterward, they sat and talked. Holbrooke said he was in despair over his role in the administration. He simply could not establish a relationship with Obama, Holbrooke said. The president seemed remote and cold-blooded, at least in Holbrooke’s presence. And, as if that weren’t enough, Holbrooke’s problem wasn’t just with Obama: Holbrooke thought many in the White House were against him …
The following Friday, Holbrooke was at a meeting in Hillary Clinton’s State Department office when he suddenly became flushed and stricken with pain. He was taken to the State Department medical office, but collapsed and went by ambulance to George Washington University Hospital. He died there three days later of a ruptured aorta.
What would Holbrooke say today, now that his idea of “humanitarian intervention” has been completely discarded in favor of targeted killing, covert “dirty” wars and yes, a relatively low urgency for the humans themselves. Would he justify it, especially if he were given a prestigious inside view? Should he own it, considering that he and his “muscular Democrats” had set the stage for this evolution in the 1990’s, and had supported Obama’s tough “counter-terrorism” approaches from the beginning?
Daniel Ellsberg suggested in this interesting eulogy after Holbrooke’s death in 2010, that for as idealistic as Holbrooke was, his career came first. Perhaps the daily soul sacrifice working in the Obama Administration — for the scraps of condescension he got in return — was too much for the man. He must have known that the war enterprise was as dirty as it was doomed to failure, but he was committed to defending it nonetheless.
But we will never really know. We can safely say however, that this isn’t exactly the legacy Richard Holbrooke wanted to leave behind. Or this. Or this. In fact, it’s probably worse than he would have imagined.