*DISCLAIMER* The writings on this blog, are just like… uh… well you know… my opinions, man.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start by saying what a horrible tragedy the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 is. My heart goes out to all of the victims.
The time has come to ask ourselves a tough question. Do we want ultimate justice, that right and wrong be enforced each and every time, or is living in peace and harmony, in a world that is mostly just, better than a rigid code of enforcement?
I ask this in regard to the tragedy that is Ukraine.
We all know a Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down. Most of us strongly believe, that Russian backed separatists mistakenly shot down the plane. Others have other beliefs. Right now I am starting to wonder if what we believe is more important, or if coming to a solution that allows all of us to live in peace and harmony is actually the key.
What the fuck am I talking about? Well, let’s look at this case by case.
First, let’s start with everyone’s favorite person in the crisis, Russian President Putin. He could continue with the tact that Russia has nothing to do with this and that it was actually Ukraine’s attempt to rid themselves of violent militants that caused the plane to be shot down. He could be right. Sure… and the sky might be red and pigs might fly. The point is though… it doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong.
We could after the fact look at the removal of Viktor Yanukovych and wonder if some of this unrest could have been avoided by a formal impeachment process where the United States, Germany, France, England, Ukraine and Russia worked together to help Ukraine form a solid, non corrupt government, but that ship has long since sailed.
What is going to happen if President Putin continues on this tact is that sanctions are going to mount from all sorts of countries. Russian officials might laugh them off now, but in a year to two when Russia has become a pariah state in which its people live in abject poverty, nobody will be laughing. Russia will be forced to sell and trade with whoever is willing. That list will be small. Poor rogue nations that Russia will be supporting more than they are supported by and perhaps China. The Chinese economy with every other economy will soar past Russia’s. I truly worry about my Russian friends and that they will be forced to live like this. Russia will essentially become a big Iran. Hated and mistrusted by most of the world. Impoverished. Politicians will move in shadowy corners making deals to keep their wallets fat while enforcing restrictions and censorship to make sure that the revolt that hides around every turn does not fester. It makes the old Soviet days look like a picnic.
Putin can choose this, or he can choose to work with Ukraine. Regardless of what he feels all the facts are about this plane crash. He can take steps to work with Western Countries. He can openly discuss with them his legitimate concerns about NATO’s over proliferation and his desire to keep close ties with ethnic Russians living in Eastern Ukraine. Putin could take a step back from the proverbial cliffs of pariah-dom and become the leader that his people elected him to be.
What I am going to recommend to my western friends is going to be an even more bitter pill to swallow. If Putin were to take these steps, even without an honest apology, even with a half-hearted, half-assed not quite apology, we have to let him. For my Dutch and Malaysian friends, I realize that this is an almost impossible task. The time for us to do the almost impossible is at hand.
If the Russian Government will take legitimate steps to not be forced back into a corner than western governments should allow them to move out of that corner. At that time, western governments should drop sanctions, forgive and make the concessions necessary to bring peace. When I say this, I don’t mean that there has to be an allowance for separatists who function as terrorists or that we should not honor those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. That would obviously be part of the bargain. If Putin is willing to renounce the separatists and work with Ukraine to bring about a united and whole Ukraine, then we must allow him to do so. If he needs a promise from Ukraine or from NATO that Ukraine won’t join NATO… then so be it. That promise could be granted with a promise that Russia will never invade Ukraine unless threatened by it. Similar to the accord America has with Cuba from the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Having Russia trapped into a corner fighting poverty and political upheaval is in no one’s best interest. It turns what could be a prosperous, productive nation into a wounded animal willing to do anything to survive.
Ukraine also needs to play a role in this. Ukrainian President Poroshenko cannot realistic think that after levelling the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk with artillery fire that the people of Eastern Ukraine will be able to reconcile the violence when the fighting ends. If he continues the onslaught of military attack, right or wrong, he risks losing the hearts and minds of Eastern Ukrainians. Do not take this as a statement of support for the rebels. I do not support the rebels or any militants anywhere. The truth is, there are a lot of peaceful Eastern Ukrainians with legitimate grievances against Kiev out there and they want peace and stability. They certainly do not want their homes and businesses destroyed by artillery fire. The only sane solution comes from Vladimir Putin using his extreme influence to rid Ukraine of this horrible militant insurgency.
What will happen? I have no idea at this point. Many times I have been hopefully that the conflict was at a crossroads and turning to peace. At this point, I quote the rock band the Who and hope, “we don’t get fooled again.”