Preponderance of Cynicism

In recent days relatives of some of the victims of the MH17 Malaysian Airlines shoot-down over the conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Igor Strelkov, the former Defense Minister of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. The aggrieved party claims that he aided and abetted the unidentified perpetrators of the Malaysian jetliner’s downing. The family members want approximately $900 million from Mr. Strelkov in compensation.

That such a law suit could even happen and be treated as a serious case shows the triumph of the Western media narrative about who is responsible for downing the Malaysian airplane. From the moment the wreckage hit the ground, corporate Western media, from CNN to the British tabloids, embarked on a petty, malicious campaign to blame and demonize not only the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine, but more specifically Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. The U.S. State Department offered a “preponderance of evidence” which consisted of little more than a few dodgy, and now debunked, social media items.[1]

The fact of the matter is that neither the State Department, nor the CIA, ever put forward any forensic evidence that would demonstrate the culpability of either Russia or Strelkov’s fighters in the awful incident. Rather they offered only cynical insinuations and internet rumors, and the media was all too eager to act on these to perpetuate the narrative of Russia’s involvement and guilt, part of the larger program to demonize Russia in advance of destabilizing the Eurasian power.

The Western media went on for several weeks, savaging Putin, but let the story silently disappear when no evidence implicating the Russian leader surfaced. The narrative trumped reality, and once it served its purpose was forgotten. Yet few figures with a public platform seemed the least bit perturbed that the American government, nor any other Western government, never came forward with satellite photos or other material gathered from the NSA’s massive surveillance grid. We were supposed to take the claims of Marie Harf and CNN at face value and join in the Two Minutes Hate against Putin and Strelkov.

The American government has silently backed off its earlier charged and direct rhetoric, but still nudges the anti-Russian narrative forward, as noted by geopolitical and media analyst Patrick Henningsen with a “campaign of endless innuendos and other slanderous remarks in the media sphere using nongovernmental agencies and war advocacy think tanks.”

The Western public loves a scary Russian villain.

The Western public loves a scary Russian villain.

Putting aside of the petty propaganda, the fact of the matter is that even many members of the American intelligence community have expressed their doubts about Russian involvement, as the national security expert and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi detailed in a recent article:

According to some sources, the U.S. intelligence community disagrees over the likelihood of the alleged Russian role and has suggested as much privately to the Dutch. Some analysts who have looked at all the considerable body of information that has been collected relating to the downing actually believe that the most likely candidate might well be the then governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Ihor Kolomoisky, an oligarch billionaire who is an Israeli-Ukrainian dual national. Kolomoisky is known to employ Israeli mercenaries as advisers and has personally organized and paid for militias fighting the Russian separatists. He would have been strongly motivated to create an incident that could plausibly be blamed on the Russians or their surrogates and he had the means to do so. The government in Kiev acting independently also had the resources and motive to shoot down the plane and blame it on Moscow.

Contrary to the Putin-Did-It claptrap, there are at least some in the American intelligence community who have seen enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that attack was actually carried out by rogue factions within the Ukrainian government. Investigative journalist Robert Parry, after noting the very real preponderance of misinformation, reported similar information earlier this year:

What I was told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts was that at least some of them – after reviewing electronic intercepts, overhead satellite images and other intelligence – had reached the conclusion that the shoot-down was a provocation, or a false-flag operation, carried out by a rogue element of the Ukrainian military operating under one of the hard-line oligarchs.

Yet none of these concerns or counter-narratives ever made it into the mainstream discourse, unsurprisingly, as public discourse is always carefully managed within boundaries determined by the media gatekeepers. According to initial reports, the upcoming release of the Dutch investigation will not name any actual culprits, but will be carefully managed to again imply Russian responsibility to serve the Atlanticist geopolitical agenda. Again, Philip Giraldi:

[One] option of how to explain the shoot down is, of course, the Dutch approach: we think it was the Russians but we can’t prove it. That is an easy choice to make as it really says nothing, which is possibly why it is being favored by the White House.

But if it is actually true that there has been considerable dissent on the findings, the tacit acceptance of a possibly unreliable and essentially unsustainable report by the White House will have significant impact on relations with Russia. It constitutes a disturbing rejection of possibly accurate intelligence analysis in favor of a politically safe alternative explanation. It recalls the politicization of intelligence that included Robert Gates’ Soviet assessments of the 1980s, John McLaughlin’s tergiversation regarding Iraq, and, most recently, Michael Morell’s over the top hyping of the threat posed by political Islam. It is a return to a Manichean view of the world as “them” and “us” with the implication that intelligence professionals are willing to restrain their dissent on an important issue if it serves to advance the current war of words with Russia.

All of this is unsurprising to long time observers of the Washington-led Western establishment, which is always willing to do an end run around reality, and instead showcasing politically motivated narratives that serve particular geopolitical and financial interests.[2] After all, as the former Bush aide Karl Rove once quipped, imperial America creates its own reality.

Hence the law suit against Igor Strelkov, regarded as a nationalist and patriotic hero in much of Russia, will be allowed to play out. Strelkov can be cast as a mass-murdering terrorist on par with Osama bin Laden. Such fairy tales only serve as a proxy to bash Putin and Russia by the Atlanticist political and media establishment, while the Western public never questions the narrative or asking for any actual evidence –  “We the People” prefer to dwell on Fantasy Island rather than face hard realities of our rulers’ predatory policies.

[1] It should be mentioned that the United States has its own history of shooting down civilian airliners. In 1988 the American military downed Iran Flight 655, a civilian plane, killing all of the almost 300 passengers under questionable circumstances. The American government never apologized for the bloody incident.

[2] Another case study relevant here is the 2013 chemical gas attack against civilians in a Syrian village. The American government and media immediately sought to blame Syrian president Bashar Assad, despite possessing no actual evidence, forensic or otherwise. The United States almost bombed Syria over the incident. Evidence later surfaced that the attack may have been a false flag staged by the Syrian rebels, with the backing of various outside parties.