The noted Indian strategic thinker, Brahma Chellaney has written a thoughtful article on the proliferation of Anti-Aircraft missiles thoughout the world in various rebel groups’ hands posing a threat to civilian aircraft, using the recent MH17 crash as a timely example to make his point.
While the main point he is trying to make is indeed a pertinent one, it’s a bit disappointing that a man of Chellaney’s intellect falls into the simple trap of using
(A) not just terminology that the Western Governments (and consequently their media) use, but
(B) believing (without any current proof) the US-led theory that the East Ukrainian rebels must have been responsible without even entertaining any other possibility.
Let’s begin with terminology: the favored term used by the Western media for those who are fighting the Ukrainian military to keep themselves independent is “pro-Russian rebels“.
Equivalent forces in other parts are referred to thusly: Syrian Rebels, Iraqi Insurgents, Taliban Insurgents and so on. If the Western media wasn’t simply an echo chamber of the various briefings given by the US Government (and its various satrapies), the term should either be “Anti-Kievian Rebels” or “East Ukrainian separatists” or similar variations.
Some of these rebels may be pro-Russian (in the sense of wanting to be with Russia) but not necessarily all. Indeed referenda and polls (pooh-poohed of course by the US Government which dictates what peoples are Democratic) show an overwhelming majority of the Donbass region (echoing their voting patterns since Ukrainian independence) want independence from Kiev but not necessarily a union with Russia.
An analogous situation may be the Kashmir situation in India. Many Kashmiris (mostly the Muslim majority) would, if given the choice, vote for independence from India (and Pakistan). Whatever one’s views on this, separatists fighting for Kashmiri independence would generally be referred to as Kashmiri separatists / rebels / insurgents and not as “pro-Pakistani rebels” (except by propagandists).
Taking the analogy further: in the case of Kashmir (a divided state controlled on one side by India and the other by Pakistan) there has been documented proof that Pakistan has not just supplied moral support, but weapons and training of Pakistani Kashmiris crossing the LOC, so the term “Pakistani backed Kashmiri separatists” could be appropriate.
In the case of Ukraine, not only has any documented evidence (serial numbers of guns and such) not been provided but it’s also clear that much of the rebels weaponry was captured from existing munitions in the region.
Yet, the Objective Western Media has labelled these folks as “pro-Russia rebels“. The US corporate megaphone for US government foreign policy pronouncements, the New York Times (and all its country’s media including Reuters, AP), the British (who are historically Russophobic) Guardian (and its even more virulently Russophobic British colleagues), AFP, France24, Deutche Welle all use this terminology.
After falling for this elementary Western propaganda, Chellaney compounds it by giving credence not just to the whole “Russia is destabilizing Ukraine” (why is never fully explained in the Western media – with Putin as a Hate Figure, no explanation or rationale is necessary) but “pro-Russian rebels” shot down MH17 when it could still as well be the inept Ukrainian military (though US Intelligence officials already pooh-poohed that and so it’s been relegated to Conspiracy talk in the Western media).
The Donbass separatists are not, like US government backed Syrian rebels, trying to topple Kiev. And unlike the threat to India’s unity were a Kashmiri separatist attempt be successful – which would catalyze various other separatists sentiments along regional lines – Donbass separatism does not “destabilize Ukraine” in the same way. (And in the way that the US-Saudi backed Syrian rebels destabilizes Syria which as we have seen resulted in blowback in the form of ISIS). Western Ukraine (again from history, polls and voting patterns) is strongly nationalistic and anti-Russian.
The Russian Government has been consistent in its plea for Kiev to sit down with the separatists without conditions (something that the US government will simply not allow). (it had similarly tried to broker talks between Yanukovych and the Euromaidan and rejecting the use of the military, something Yanukovych for all his corruption did not do).
Yet Russia is presented as the antagonist. And Chellaney who should be brighter than this, seemed to buy wholeheartedly into this – contrary to facts (versus spin) freely available.
Coming to MH17, there has yet been no facts provided. The UNSC, echoing Russia’s insistence from the beginning, has asked for an impartial investigation.
This is not good enough for the Lynch Mob in their Orgy of Hate.
Again it’s astonishing that a man of Chellaney’s intellect falls for this.
Of course in a larger sense it may be that Chellaney – who sees China as India’s main strategic threat – is treading a fine line trying to appear neutral by taking the US Government line while pointing out the hypocrisy of its (past – not current, which he praises) actions to make the larger, pertinent point about a world awash in loosely monitored anti-aircraft weapons.
I hope it is this and not that Chellaney is a man easily fooled by what he reads in the Western media.