Thursday, 24 July 2014

It could happen to any of us.

This week is truly full of dreadful news and the recent downing of the Malaysian Airways jet MH 17 at the Eastern border of Ukraine and Russia by Pro-Russian militia with a BUK missile is an horrendous crime against humanity, 298 people died. One can only hope that they felt nothing and that their death was quick and painless.

The spectacle of the Pro-Russian militia and Russian agents looting the personal belongings of the dead is not only revolting but shows the level of barbarity of those so called Pro-Russian militias and the Russian government. As an ex-Foreign Service Officer I knew from my days in the service during the Cold War that the Soviets (Russians) had absolutely no scruples and no morals whatsoever. After all they supported Nazi Germany and had a secret pact to destroy Eastern Europe and its population. Then in 1941 Soviet Russia decides to switch sides and join the Allies because it was risking annihilation at the hands of Nazi Germany. So you can see that political calculation and hedging their bets is an old Russian way of doing business. They invoke the Raison d'Etat, you do what you have to do and morals or scruples do not enter into it. Something politicians are loath to admit to the electorate in Western Countries.

When MH17 was shot down, someone asked me if I thought there would be consequences or that President Putin would be made to pay. I answered that little if anything will be done, there will be no reprisal. There will be lots of angry words but not much else, just enough to occupy the Media and distract the public.

This is what has happened so far, France is still selling to Russia two war ships a deal worth 1.5 billion Euros, President Hollande of France said he did not see any reason to cancel the sale.
Germany is thinking about its gas supplies it receives from Russia and has no other source of heat for the coming winter, not to mention the important trade ties, despite German sympathies for the victims there is a limit to what they are willing to endure.

Britain has made lots of angry pronouncements but Russian money is still flooding the Financial markets in the City, where would the City be without all the oligarchs and their money?

Italy is against sanctions because it would damage its luxury goods market to Russia and given its fragile economy Italy needs all the export sales it can get.  As for The Netherlands who had the most dead in this tragedy, it has been strangely quiet.

Everyone in the EU is thinking Trade and Economics, do not jeopardize the economics and Putin knows that, he knows all too well that he is holding the strong cards. Even the USA is very reluctant to do anything because it does not want to be caught in a situation where Russia could manoeuvre between it and a divided Europe.  Also no one wants to go to war, not over Ukraine and not over a down passenger airliner, it is not worth it, too much is at stake in terms of trade, oil and gas and the politicians know it. But what does it say to Ukrainians about the EU? Not much really, Ukraine you are on your own.

So we have the public message of Western politicians to the people carefully crafted by the Spin experts and then we have the reality of trade and economics. Because if a Western politician in France, Germany, UK, Italy or USA took serious steps to sanctions and punish Russia political consequences would follow. For all of our wringing of hands and our words of sorrow over the dead civilians, none of us would like to suffer the consequences of a Russian angry response and yes Russia can sell its oil and gas elsewhere think China who has an unquenchable thirst in terms of energy demands.  This is where human nature comes in, the me first attitude despite the atrocious incidents.

Canada in all this, well PM Harper has sounded sharp and hostile against Russia. We are fairly insulated from any possible retaliation from Russia except for our Northern Border which is with Russia, unfortunately Canadians do not look at that border, no one thinks that the Russian would dare claim the Arctic. Surely the Americans would come and defend us, think again Canada, the USA will do nothing if it is not in their interests, we are very likely to find ourselves alone in having to deal with Russia. We have no Navy and no Armed Forces to defend the Arctic Border, so it is wide open for the taking by Russia or whoever wants to take it. Again short-sighted policies by the Harper Government despite all the talk.

So the tragedy of MH17 could happen to any one of us and do not count on your government to help you out, other priorities will take precedent over your life, that is what is call ''Real Politik''.

In the meantime, do you remember that Syria is gripped by a vicious Civil War, Gaza is being bombarded by the Israeli Army, Iraq is unstable and a violent Jihadist group is now emerging. Afghanistan is still no further ahead and the Taliban is a dangerous force. How about those 200 girls kidnapped a few months ago by Boko Aram, no more news about them. The Media has lost interests in those stories. The world goes on and on.


  1. It looks like such an awful world right now. But, to many, the world has always looked awful.

    1. Maybe the world has always been awful but the difference was that we did not have instant news on the internet. Now we are constantly bombarded with bad news.

    2. You're so right! A blessing and a curse.