TIME and other US news outlets are trying to present Russian people as believing all the various internet nonsense stories that incidents like the Malaysian Airlines tragedy invariably create. That MH17 was loaded with dead bodies in Amsterdam and the pilots parachuted out; that Putin was flying over the same area in his private plane (and so MH15 was shot down by Kiev forces), that the plane was recently reinsured and so was sabotaged for the money – plus the usual American-CIA plots.
The Russian military have added their own stories to this anthology: 13 questions they believe the USA should answer: ranging from allegations that MH17 was diverted into the danger zone and that Ukrainian fighters were in the area. Russian government propaganda perhaps, to counter the very obvious USA attempts to pin this on Russia?
There are people in the USA and elsewhere who believe this kind of thing – as well as Russians, who are particularly partial to conspiracy theories. But unlike USA and most of the rest of the world, Russians have been conditioned into a knee-jerk disbelief of stories originating from official or governmental sources – a legacy from Soviet propaganda.
But the West gives credence to Ukrainian journalists ‘exposing’ all manner of Russian governmental lies, which they say the Russian people believe. They also say this creates a massive perception problem, and perpetuates Putin in power.
They are right in that Putin has benefited from all this. But wrong in their attribution of blame, which lies more with the knee-jerk reactions of Western politicians and media.
Nowhere in this whole crisis has the actual truth seemed to have any value for either side. Experienced people – like me as a former soldier and journalist, understand that this is nothing new, and that the truth is always altered to create media ‘stories’, and used selectively by politicians.
WIth MH17, basic questioning would have have least paved the way for truth: “Who stands to benefit from this action?” The answer is a resounding “Nobody”, so we’re looking at the likelihood of it being a tragic accident – and nothing deliberate.
The Kiev government imposes a no-fly zone over the area, using missiles capable of shooting down MH17. If logic was the driver, this should have led to suggestions that they might have shot it down by accident.
But unfortunately for the truth, neither Kiev nor the Americans can allow that as a possibility; Kiev because they suspected maybe they did shoot it down (lies and corruption in Ukraine being endemic); and the USA because their military have also themselves shot down passenger aircraft – notably Iran Air Flight 655, in 1988.
With 290 passengers dead, despite there being no alternatives to the USS Vincennes having fired the missiles, plus the Airbus A300 having been squawking civilian IFF codes, it took the USA eight years even to apologise. They refused to admit any liability for what was clearly an act of grotesque incompetence and military aggression, and settled with relatives out of court.
The vice president at that time George H. W. Bush, declared of the incident (in 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.”
Putin insists that what happens over Ukraine territory is for Kiev to deal with. He supported the UN mandate for a full enquiry. This is far more statesmanlike (and dare one say honest?) than the US’ immoral and dishonest response to the Iran Air Flight 655 tragedy. And furthermore, even though Putin might be supporting pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine, he is not using this tragedy to score points – unlike Ukrainian and Western politicians.
All of which the Russian people understand; and they are now drawing their own conclusions. As a consequence, many are losing the respect in which they’d previously held Europe’s sense of democracy, justice and respect for the truth.
Ukrainian forces have not stopped their attacks in the crash site area, and the investigation isn’t going to be easy. So why not await its outcome? And borrowing from John Lennon: “Give Truth a chance.”