Establish Facts

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - After a jetliner was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, influential German foreign policy experts have begun calling for a military intervention, which may include German Bundeswehr units. "A Blue Helmet mission under the umbrella of the United Nations" should now be taken into consideration, declared Andreas Schockenhoff, Co-Chair of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag. "Germany may also be asked" to contribute troops. For the Chairman of the Bundestag's Defense Commission, Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), a Blue Helmet mission is also "conceivable." It is yet unclear, who bears responsibility for downing the jetliner. This is not an essential question for him, as past experience with Western interventions have shown: The EU and the USA must politically establish the facts. The war against Yugoslavia was justified with a massacre. Substantial doubts about central aspects of this massacre still persist. The sniper killings on Kiev's Maidan Square on February 20 have never been elucidated, once they served as legitimation for overthrowing the government of President Yanukovych. Suspicions persist that sectors of today's governing Maidan opposition may have played decisive roles in these murders; however that is of no interest to the West. On the contrary, there have never been political consequences for a US warship's downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988.

No Proof

Several days after the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, it is still unclear, who bears the responsibility. US intelligence agencies claim that Russia had recently delivered a BUK anti-aircraft missile system to the rebels in Eastern Ukraine and that movements have been registered over the past few days to bring that system back to Russia. However, those same agencies have, in the past, repeatedly lied to justify going to war. For example, it has been proven that, under the Saddam Hussein government, the allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and supported Al Qaeda were lies. The Russian defense ministry has reported that, right at the time of the downing of the jetliner, it had registered relevant activities of Ukrainian air-defense forces, which do possess "Buk" anti-aircraft systems; and that it is quite conceivable that inexperienced soldiers may have caused the crash through incorrect handling of that highly sophisticated system. Also for this allegation, there is no proof, albeit the Ukrainian military has actually made such a mistake. On October 4, 2001, they accidentally shot down a Tupolev of the Siberian Airlines en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, killing all 78 people on board.

Jumping to Conclusions

On Thursday, Christian Mölling, an expert in the Security Policy Research Group of Berlin's Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), had already warned against jumping to conclusions. He recommends caution in dealing with all of the information about the downing of the jetliner - particularly information propagated by official sources. "Both sides will seek to pin the blame on the other."[1] This has been fully confirmed, not only by the declarations of politicians. German media is peddling, without comment, US intelligence reports, while at times openly discrediting Russian information as "conspiracy theories." In a regional newspaper, the Chair of Germany's Federal Press Conference preempted the results of future investigations. "Evidently, they wanted to down another Ukrainian military transport plane."[2] Referring to the political consequences, he said, "the worldwide outrage over this act of terror increases the pressure on Putin."[3]

Manipulation of Public Opinion

Previous cases used by the West to justify military interventions, show that an impartial investigation of the downing of the Malaysian Boeing - being now used to call for a military intervention - can hardly be expected. The allegation that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was an exception. It has been proven to be a complete fabrication. A second exception was the so-called Operation Horseshoe. The German government used this lie to justify its war on Yugoslavia. It had claimed to possess a document, which showed how Belgrade was deploying its army in the form of a horseshoe to ethnically cleanse the Albanian-speaking population from Kosovo and that this was confirmed by information from intelligence services. Throughout the war, German media continuously repeated this allegation without verification. It helped to provoke public outrage at the Yugoslav government that can still be felt today. In the meantime "Operation Horseshoe" is generally seen as a fiction. Already back in 2005, "Internationale Politik," a journal close to the government wrote that "the minister of defense had manipulated public opinion by falsely claiming in parliament that Serbs have developed the so-called Operation Horseshoe."[4]

Unproven but Effective

Strong doubts persist about the so-called Racak Massacre (mid-January 1999), which the German Foreign Minister, Josef Fischer, primarily used to justify the aggression against Yugoslavia. On January 16, 1999, the US diplomat, William Walker presented 45 dead Kosovo Albanians to the press in the village of Racak, claiming they were the victims of a Yugoslav army execution. Western media extensively echoed this story without further investigation. Evidence that the deaths had not been the result of an execution, but rather of military combat between Yugoslav army units and units of UCK militia were disregarded. This evidence was already accessible and has since been documented by The Hague Tribunal (ICTY) as well as elsewhere. German ret. Brig. Gen. Heinz Loquai, who had been dispatched to Kosovo at the beginning of 1999, accuses Walker of being more interested in finding reasons to go to war, than in investigating the civil war already raging. "With his unverified version of what had happened in Racak, Walker lit the fuse leading to the war on Yugoslavia."[5]

No Interest

Responsibility for the fatal sniper fire at the Maidan Square in Kiev, last February 20 is still unresolved, to say the least. At first the shots were attributed to snipers working for the Yanukovych government, which contributed to the legitimacy of it being overthrown. Since March, however, there have been reasonable grounds for the suspicion that sectors of the Maidan opposition at the time - which is now part of the current government - were involved in firing the fatal shots. This suspicion arises from a secretly recorded telephone conversation between the Estonian Foreign Minister and the EU head of foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, as well as from considerable research undertaken by the German TV program "Monitor." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) The regime brought to power in Kiev by the putsch, so far has consistently refused to allow an independent investigation into the killings. And the West is obviously not interested in pressuring Kiev into reversing its stand. An investigation possibly would implicate its own supporters.

Ambiguous Basis

In the case of the recently downed jetliner, the focus is again on the responsibility of the insurgents in Eastern Ukraine and, above all, of Russia, regardless of the evidence. Political facts are once more being established on an ambiguous basis - for example, the debate concerning a UN Blue Helmet mission in Ukraine, with the possible participation of the Bundeswehr.[7] Should these accusations against the insurgents and Russia later prove to be founded, the West will savor its triumphant. However should they prove false, it will carry no consequences.

Double Standards

The question must be raised as to the standards used by Berlin, Brussels and Washington in their judgment. July 3, 1988, a US Navy warship that was trespassing in Iran's territorial waters, shot down a civilian Airbus A300 Iran Air jetliner. The jetliner- like the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 - was clearly recognizable as a civilian plane. 290 passengers lost their lives. There have never been political consequences for this. On the contrary, upon leaving the military, the ship's commander was explicitly decorated with the Legion of Merit for his activities during his service in the Persian Gulf. Following the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, Germany's foreign minister declared, "If the investigations do actually show that one of the parties to the conflict has the lives of hundreds of perfectly innocent people on its conscience, it would be an atrocity beyond all imagining. No one responsible for such an atrocity any longer has any right to push for their own interests in the name of humanity."[8] There has never been a comparable Western declaration following the downing of the civilian Iranian Airlines jetliner.

[1] "Riesengroßes Ziel auf dem Radar": Abschuss wäre technisch möglich. www.focus.de 17.07.2014.
[2] Gregor Mayntz: Russland lügt noch dreister als auf der Krim. www.rp-online.de 19.07.2014.
[3] Julia Smirnova: Die Katastrophe der MH17 hat alles verändert. www.welt.de 19.07.2014.
[4] Thomas Speckmann: Friedensmacht und Waffenbruder. Das neue deutsche Selbstbewußtsein beruht auf einem Mythos. Internationale Politik, August 2005.
[5] Es ging nicht um die "humanitäre Katastrophe", sondern um die NATO. Friedenspolitische Korrespondenz 3/2000.
[6] See The Kiev Escalation Strategy.
[7] BKA schickt Fachleute für Identifizierung in die Ukraine. www.faz.net 19.07.2014.
[8] Steinmeier: Brauchen schnelle und unabhängige Aufklärung des Absturzes von "MH17". www.auswaertiges-amt.de 18.07.2014.