Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ClubOrlov: Saving Face

by Dmitri Orlov

The Americans are finding out the hard way that a fact-free zone is not a comfortable place to inhabit. The initial knee-jerk allegations, voiced by Obama, by the screechy UN representative Samantha Power, by John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and any number of talking heads, were that the downing of flight MH17 was all Putin's fault. These were swiftly followed by a complete and utter lack of official evidence of any Russian involvement but lots of strange, unexplained coincidences pointing to Ukrainian and American involvement. These were, in turn, followed by an uncharacteristically frank admission from US intelligence that there is no proof of Russian involvement. The newly installed Ukrainian oligarch-turned-president Poroshenko (code-name “Piglet”) switched from claiming that he had proof of Russian complicity to being very very quiet. Incompetently concocted fake “evidence” of this and that continues to appear on social media sites, only to be swiftly disproved. Once disproved, the fake evidence vanishes, only to be replaced by more of the same. The latest fake is of Russian artillery bombardment from across the border. All of this has added up to quite an awkward situation for the Americans. Barefaced lying may be fun and profitable, but it does not provide a solid foundation for foreign policy. Nobody wants to go down in history for blowing up the world over some fake Youtube videos.

The list of questions that demand answers is quite extensive. Why did the Ukrainians suddenly choose to activate their Buk M1 air defense system, with several rocket batteries and a radar, in Donetsk region, on the day of the crash? What was the Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet (attested by numerous eye-witnesses) doing trailing after the Boeing? Why did Ukrainian air traffic control in Dnepropetrovsk redirect the flight to fly at a lower altitude and over the war zone? What were all those foreigners doing in the air traffic control center in Dnepropetrovsk right after the crash, and what happened to the flight control records they confiscated? What was the experimental US spy satellite doing flying over that exact spot at that exact moment? By the way, was anything interesting happening that day at the American drone base in Kanatov, in Dnepropetrovsk region, which, incidentally, is right on the flight path of MH17? (We know that it's active; two of their drones have already been shot down by the rebels, one of which landed more or less intact, and the Russians are probably having fun tinkering with it.)

Some people are surmising that the crash was a failed false flag attack orchestrated by the Ukrainians with, at a minimum, American complicity. The idea, this version goes, was to pin the blame on the rebels and, by extension, on Russia, in order to escalate the conflict. This version of events may sound plausible to some people, because false flag operations are part of the standard American playbook. After all, there was that chemical attack in Syria which almost led to a US bombing campaign. The chemical attack was blamed on the Assad regime, but then it turned out to have been a false flag: it was made by the Syrian rebels, on Syrian rebels, with help from Saudi Arabia, in order to smear Assad and escalate the conflict. Russia was able to deescalate the conflict by persuading Assad to give up his chemical weapons stockpile. (It didn't take much convincing, because Assad no doubt realized that this stockpile was more of a liability than an asset.) The Americans were livid; they had been itching to bomb Syria. Had they done so, the too-evil-for-al Qaeda “Caliphate” known as ISIS, which recently spilled out of Syria and rolled right across northern Iraq, would probably be enthroned in Damascus by now as well.

But in the case of flight MH17, the false flag theory rests on an untenable assumption: that the Ukrainians, if tasked with shooting it down, would in fact succeed in shooting it down. All previous evidence illustrates that when Ukrainians want to shoot down a plane, they may succeed in shooting down a nursery school, a maternity ward, an apartment building full of elderly Ukrainians, but never a plane. Conversely, if Ukrainians set out to destroy a maternity ward or a kindergarten (as they are known to sometimes do) odds are that they will hit a Boeing. They inherited a now rather obsolete Buk M1 air defense system from the USSR, which, in skilled hands, is quite capable of shooting down a Boeing flying at cruising altitude, but you'd be wrong to think that they have figured out how it works. They held exactly one training exercise using this system, in 2001, and succeeded in... shooting down a Russian civilian airliner! There were no training exercises in using this system until... it was used to shoot down MH17! It was used in Georgia during the war of 2008 over South Ossetia, where it did shoot down four Russian military aircraft, but there it was commanded by American mercenaries of Polish descent. Ukrainians excell at robbing, selling out, dismantling and destroying their own country; but achieving a specific, precise result as part of a highly coordinated mission? Not so much. Case in point: some Australian and Dutch troops wanted to go and maintain security at the crash site, but couldn't, because the Ukrainians chose the occasion of their arrival to attack some neighboring towns and villages. You'd think that they would treat the opportunity to get some NATO boots on the ground as a Godsend, and act accordingly, but such rational behavior would be, you know, un-Ukrainian. The proper thing for them to do is to go and strafe some nearby village, and get themselves ambushed and slaughtered to a man by an angry babushka with a Kalashnikov.

Complete story at - ClubOrlov: Saving Face

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6. Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives - Stephen Cohen
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