Saturday, July 19, 2014


Saying that the world does not look great is an understatement.  From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Ukraine tragedy there is actually a common denominator, which has less to do with the facts on the ground than with the twist given by the various actors.

President Obama has suggested a strange narrative to both events.  He actually implied that Israel's incursion into Gaza should be limited in scope (tunnels, etc.), and regarding the downing of the plane, he preferred for now to triangulate rather than to unambiguously defend principles of international law.  His generalities did not amount to much.  Israel will pay scarce attention to the Great Appeaser, and with regard to Ukraine, the Europeans might blink again in the absence (as yet) of a stronger American condemnation. What has happened amounts to an act of war and the EU should consider "existing," not "eluding," as usual.  It should also break with its addiction to Russian gas and deprive Putin of a major source of income.

Obviously caution is needed and one should refrain from overreacting.  On the other hand, Obama's by-now-recognized abhorrence to mano a mano confrontation risks feeding yet again the myth of a retrenching America. Let's wait and see how incremental his reaction will be.  For now there seems to be no other option than to encourage Chancellor Merkel to take the initiative.  She might be the only leader who is able to connect somewhat with Putin. It is doubtful that he was the initiator of the action that led to the tragedy but his does not diminish indirect responsibility, by proxy.

The civilian Malaysian civil aircraft was shot at (mistakenly taken for a military aircraft?) . This is a crime. The circumstances and perpetrators (and handlers) have to be identified.  If this act of folly were proven to have emanated from territory in the hands of some East Ukrainian thugs, there would be an added violation of sovereignty.  The site of the catastrophe is a crime scene which risks being sanitized further of any indication of how this occurred. What will happen to the "black boxes" remains also to be seen.  Obviously the inquest should not be allowed to be hijacked and existing rules, with the support of all parties, need to be followed. The rule of law is not to be taken a la carte.  Time is in short supply given that the crash site is a "free for all," with the scandalous consequences of looting, foraging and eradicating. 

Israel (again) gives an example of how to react against a disproportional aggression.  Missiles are not meant to go after X, Y or Z.  They are WMD.  The Israelis try as much as possible to calibrate their response but, as happens too often, with uneven results. Lives are lost and they have no substitute. The beach shelling by Israeli forces is a tragedy and deaths of innocents are piling up in Gaza. Hamas should stop hiding behind the backs of the people it is supposed to protect. Israel is smart enough to realize that a military solution is unrealistic and that the reciprocal damage needs to be limited.

Equally, the criminals who shot down the plane should not fare better than the Jihadists and their culture of death. The West cannot let this go by as some other bump in the road to nowhere. President Obama and the Europeans should size the opportunity to show the world--from the Netherlands to Malaysia--that, yet again, those who choose to run will never find a place to hide. The EU should not be shy to embrace Ukraine "for want" rather than opening up for candidates "in need."  Let's not replay another "waiting game" (Iran suffices). 

Meanwhile, these latest hot spots are creating plenty of opportunity for other aberrations to continue their descent into hell.  The formerly captivated viewer is distracted by the media who, cynically, care more about polls and end up prioritizing horrors.  The bodies of the victims who are scattered in this wretched corner of Ukraine are not "props," after all.  Isn't it sadly ironic that the body of the 9/11 mastermind was buried at sea with more dignity than the mutilated innocent passengers who after an atrocious death had to fall  prey to human vultures? 

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