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Issue #1649      July 30, 2014

Culture & Life

Fascism is to blame

To judge by the way Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott have been strutting around making bold demands of the rest of the world’s leaders, Australia must be a very Great Power indeed. Or could it be that the Abbott government is more than somewhat delusional in this regard?

Much of their grandstanding over the dreadful loss of life in the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 has been a desperate attempt to claw back a few points in the opinion polls where they are doing appallingly badly. That they would so shamelessly use the incident in this way is no more than one expects from them, of course, but that does not make it any more acceptable.

Last week’s Guardian listed a whole heap of questions that need to be answered before an accurate conclusion can be reached even about what happened to Flight MH17. But Abbott and Bishop have an agenda to pursue, and that agenda involves blaming Russia regardless of whether they have any evidence or not. Anyone who still thinks the Cold War ever ended needs only to look at TV any night to realise otherwise.

Abbott’s mentor and revered former leader John Howard tried hard to assert Australia’s “right” to be the imperial power in the South Pacific, intervening in several countries in the area and generally trying to chuck his weight around. Abbott and Bishop are following the same tactical line. They are spending a skip-load of money on armaments in readiness for armed conflict with countries that don’t see eye-to-eye with Washington and Canberra.

The US’s President Obama has given emotional speeches about the loss of life in MH17, but these would carry more conviction if the man who bombed a Cuban airliner with the loss of life of all on board wasn’t living in Miami under the protection of the US government. What’s good for the goose, Obama.

The USA, of course, shares the same agenda as Abbott and Bishop: surround and isolate China and Russia. Destabilise and eventually overthrow their governments and seize their resources for Western corporations. The US naturally expects to get the lion’s share, but Abbott and Co hope to get some valuable leavings.

American commentators have been even keener than Julie Bishop to blame Russia. All our readers have probably seen (indeed, how could you miss it, they played it so many times) the supposed transcript of an intercepted phone conversation at the site of the crashed aircraft, in which someone on the ground is reporting what he finds to a superior elsewhere.

If the transcript is genuine, it shows that the people arriving at the site thought the plane would be a military one. “Did you get the pilots?” the distant superior wants to know. “What weapons are on board?” When the man on the spot indicates that it is clearly a civilian plane, the other (and you can hear the anger in his voice) exclaims “What is it doing flying over a war zone?” A question only Malaysian Airlines can answer, but it has been pointed out that diverting around Ukraine would use more fuel and hence cost the airline more money. Several planes (mainly Ukrainian transport aircraft) had been shot down over the same area in the preceding week or so and several major airlines had decided to avoid flying over that region. Surely the airline must have at least considered the wisdom of such a flight path? Could cost have been a determining factor? One hopes not.

The most important determining factor should have been the one mentioned in the transcript quoted above. “There’s fighting going on here.” The elected government of Ukraine was ousted in an EU/US-backed coup supported by fascist groups (including supporters of Bandera, the puppet leader of Ukraine for the Nazis in WW2). The extreme right-wing government they installed was rightly seen as a tool for anti-Russian sentiment. Even the Russian language was threatened – and much of the Eastern part of the country is Russian-speaking.

Russians and Ukrainians have had painful experiences of fascist rule during the War. It is not surprising that much of the east of the country rose-up to reject the imposition of fascist rule from Kiev. For their part and in the best fascist tradition, the new rulers in Kiev immediately resorted to violence, sending air-strikes and ground attacks by the Ukrainian army against the anti-fascist regions. So far with little success but considerable loss of life.

Kiev has a vested interest in upping the ante, in provoking an incident that would allow the West to intervene. Russia says it was not involved and that the militias in the east of Ukraine do not have the anti-aircraft weapons that could bring down an aircraft at over 30,000 feet.

The transcript of the conversation already referred to, has since appeared with amended text. But the most amended version was that used by the US Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Newshour program. This service is regularly used by the US State Department to disseminate its point of view as fact. Newshour used a severely edited version of the transcript, with none of the questioning, so that the speaker appeared to be almost gleefully reporting that they had downed an aircraft, a civilian aircraft.

It was blatant manipulation of the material and amounted to outright dishonesty. But, of course, the important issue for them was to push the anti-Russia message as hard as they could.

Like I said before, the Cold War never ended and has now been stepped up to a level we haven’t seen in several decades. This is a time for prudence, not sabre rattling about banning Russia from attending the G20 in Brisbane. While Abbott and Bishop were talking tough about MH17, Israel was invading Palestine and at time of writing (Tuesday July 22) had already killed over 500 people. [Now over 1,000 – Ed.] What had Abbott and Bishop to say about that? Precious little but pious wishes.

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