The West Has Found a New Scapegoat to Blame: Russia
Photo Credit: Fabio Berti/Shutterstock.com
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I remember exactly the clear morning of 9/11 and the walk along Hillhouse Ave toward the hall where I was to give the first lecture on Russian culture. I wanted to discuss the Soviet fanatics who exploded the biggest cathedral in Moscow in order to erect the world’s tallest tower in its place. I had already heard about the first plane flying into the Twin Towers, but with few details available, I didn’t pursue it, concentrating on my lecture. A stranger, having parked his pickup truck, then addressed me: “Have you heard about the second plane? It is big, man. We are under attack!“ It took a while to digest; shaken, we silently looked at each other and our eyes met. Town and gown division was instantly obliterated. Construction worker in Timberland boots, and Ivy League professor speaking with a foreign accent –we got on the same wave length right away.
There was a pause in the air that made people feel like brothers. This sense was lost, of course, replaced by nationalistic hysteria and aggressive foreign policy involving wars, bombing, and lies. Business as usual, in other words, but the moment was there for people to feel and to share. And being on the phone during these days, I felt that the grief was shared by Americans, Russians, Israelis, and so on. Putin, by the way, was one of the first world leaders to call President Bush and offer Russia’s condolences for the tragedy.
Nothing like that happened when the Malaysian plane was shot down over Ukraine. 300 lives went up in smoke--the victims of a stupid war they have nothing to do with, but which the West has been fostering deliberately and methodically, refusing to force the Ukrainian government to negotiate and stop the bloodshed that is spreading across Ukraine like wild fire, devouring the south Ukrainian steppe. The plane’s innocent victims didn’t get this grievous pause. Shared camaraderie of suffering got dissolved before it had a chance to crystalize. The very next day, the Kiev regime resumed its bombardment and killing in Luhansk, while in the West, the affair became instantly politicized, as if the main point of this senseless tragedy was to expose and ostracize Russia. Is that what we’ve learned from the 9/11 experience: that tragedy can be politicized and exploited, that it is pertinent to create and impose a narrative and allocate the guilt before your shocked audience had a chance to think on its own?
I am sure that having witnessed the plane’s tragedy, people all over the world expected their leaders to do their utmost to stop the mayhem. “Bad peace is better than good war,” goes the Russian proverb. But I guess the West finds its meaning untranslatable, as it keeps on condoning Kiev’s brutal attacks on its own civilians in eastern Ukraine, attacks amply documented by Human Rights Watch and endless videos and pictures. Russians I talked to were quite shaken by the plane tragedy, but before they were given a chance to express their sympathy, they had to jump to self-defense against the barrage of the most vicious and reckless media attacks in years. Don’t we need a thorough investigation before calling for blood? And whatever the results prove to be, will they return the lost lives? If you leave a live wire exposed somebody will touch it. Why was such a live wire left exposed in Ukraine? In May, the newly elected president Poroshenko promised to stop the violence within hours, then within days. He obviously failed. Should he not be advised, indeed forced, to negotiate? Yet the Kiev authorities either deny that they have a civil war on their hands, or declare triumphantly that they don’t negotiate with terrorists. Denial is hardly a way to resolve the conflict. The monstrous death is let loose on Ukraine. It has to be contained, before it devours many more lives.