International Courts and the Mystery of the Malaysian Airliner
• AUGUST 4, 2015
Denis Kornilov / Shutterstock.com
People are not equal in death, either. Some deaths are more newsworthy
than others. The media and politicians love spectacular acts of terror,
fires, disaster, the death of the wealthy and privileged, a death
conducive to a cause. Such is the death of 300 passengers and crew of
the Malaysian airliner flight 17 in the crash in Donbass, near
Russian-Ukrainian border. Their deaths, regrettable as they were, are
deemed to be of much greater importance, or at least newsworthiness than
those of some ten thousand local people killed by the indiscriminate
shelling of Donbass towns by Kiev regime troops, or that of a million
Arabs. It is conducive to the cause of pushing Russia into a corner.
The US and its allies wanted Russia branded with a scarlet letter. They
manoeuvred Putin into a no-win situation: appear submissive or appear a
mass murderer. Heads I win, tails you lose. They introduced into the UN
Security Council a draft resolution on the formation of a special
tribunal for the crashed Malaysian liner, containing a reference to Chapter
VII, the deadliest of all, dealing with “threat to the
peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and authorising use of
force. If such a resolution would pass, it would mean Russia gave up its
sovereignty. Even in the unlikely case of fair trial, the impact of such
a submission would be huge. And the trial would be by a hostile court
for whom Truth
Is No Defence.
It would be a miracle for Russia to escape condemnation at such a court.
You say, but
Russia is clearly innocent in the disaster. So what? These
guys are not after truth at all – they hanged Saddam, they brutalised
Qaddafi, they keep Palestinians locked in Gaza, they want to destroy and
subjugate strong-minded Russia. And what would be a better gambit than a
resolution with the magic words “Chapter VII”. Their magic can unleash
the dogs of war.
However the worst consequence would be the surrender of Russian
sovereignty. If they accepted this, they could be trampled upon at will.
No great state ever agreed to be tried and judged. This is a sign of
“limited sovereignty”, of submission to supreme authority.
The US never did. The US did not agree to join the International
Criminal Court, so its citizens could never be tried. There were a
hundred cases in which the US could and should have been brought to
trial, but it never happened.
As I write this, the sad anniversary of Hiroshima reminds us of the
greatest crime of the last century, never brought to trial, but it
happened a long time ago.
In 1980s the US mined harbours of Nicaragua, and in 1986 the ICJ
(International Court of Justice) found the US guilty. The US refused to
comply. They did not recognise the Court’s right to judge them.
In 1989 they invaded Panama, kidnapped its president and locked him up
in the dungeon of Barad Dur, Florida. The majority of the Security
Council voted for theresolution condemning
the invasion, in clear and unambiguous language: “The Security Council
…strongly deplores the intervention in Panama by the US Armed Forces
which constitutes a fragrant violation of the international law and
demands immediate cessation of the intervention” but the US and its
allies vetoed the resolution.
Since then, there have been many wars and invasions, but the US never
agreed to be judged, always refused to comply with judgements and vetoed
any draft implying a check upon its sovereignty.
Now, all of a sudden, they have become adepts of international law.
It would be a deadly error for the Russians to submit. Such tribunals
are highly political, and they decide as they are ordered. The Russians
had recently had an unpleasant experience: they agreed to a tribunal in
the Hague to arbitrate with the run-away oligarchs who claimed Putin had
stolen their hard-earned winnings. They thought their case was so clear,
and they believed in the impartiality of the tribunal. They were
surprised when the Hague tribunal ordered them to pay fifty billion
dollars to the fugitives. They are not likely to step on the same rake a
Poets describe such tribunals better than lawyers: “I’ll be judge, I’ll
be jury… I’ll try the whole case, and condemn you to death”, in the
words of Lewis Carroll.
Russia vetoed the draft, and there was a deafening media scream
condemning Russia for non-compliance. None of these screamers bothered
to demand US compliance in a single case of transgression. They knew it
would not work. Not only the US: even the smaller Jewish state of Israel
has never agreed to face a tribunal.
Why does Israel refuse? Justice is a great concept, and Jews are natural
born lawyers, so the Jews know: a judge can always rule the way he finds
fit and find reasons for the judgment he likes.
The law is so quirky, and changes so fast! Fifty years ago, an American
would get a jail sentence for having sex with a person of a different
race or the same sex. Nowadays, race is no objection, but a woman of 30 gets
22 years in jail for her amorous affair with three
17-year old kids in Florida. Why, she would get less if she were to kill
Vladimir Lenin, a lawyer by education, considered the courts and lawyers
to be a tool of the ruling class. He did not believe in objective
justice. Indeed, the judges do the will of the rulers. As the rulers
want to find Russia guilty, so they will, given a chance.
Granting all that, what actually happened in the air over Donetsk? There
are many versions: it was a bomb planted on board the plane, the plane
was hit by a ground-to-air-missile, it was shot down by an fighter jet.
There are complicated conspiracy versions aplenty, combining these
causes, that would provide strong competition to 9/11. The more
elaborate versions connect this crash with the mysterious disappearance
of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 a few months earlier.
There is no doubt that the Russians did not want to hit the passenger
airliner. The Donetsk rebels could not, for this feat of hitting a plane
flying at such altitude is above their grade. It is said that Kiev
regime, or the then lord of Dnepropetrovsk, the Chabad tycoon Kolomoysky
did it in order to implicate Russians, but I doubt that.
There are witnesses to the flight of a Ukrainian Su-25 jet fighter based
in Dnepropetrovsk that possibly could have shot down the airliner,
believing it was the Russian airliner Rossiya carrying
President Putin. They give even the pilot’s name: captain Vladislav
Alternatively, there are witnesses that saw a ground-to-air missile
battery belonging to Kiev or even to the rebels (which is quite
unlikely: they are not that sophisticated). Who knows the truth? Such
things happen in wartime, and that was a time of intensive warfare
between the rebels and the Kiev regime.
I’ll tell you an old soldier’s tale. In 1973 my battalion of Israeli
paratroopers seized the Egyptian Ataka Heights, in the desert between
Suez Canal and Nile Valley. We had sent a group of our best fighters out
for a reconnaissance raid. A friend of mine took command. It was a dark
night in October. On their way back, my friend forgot to signal his
return, and our sentries opened fire. My friend and three soldiers were
killed. Friendly fire is not a rare thing. If friends die of friendly
fire, strangers who got into wrong place in the wrong time are also
likely to suffer.
I would not blame anybody in the plane disaster, excepting those who had
sent the plane over the fighting zone – Kiev or Dnepropetrovsk flight
Neither the Ukrainian nor Russian SAM operators, nor the rebels wanted
to shoot down a civilian aircraft. Even if the Ukrainian jet fighter
downed the plane, he did it without understanding the nature of the
target. But in war, things happen. In 1988, the Americans shot down a
civilian Iranian airliner Airbus A-300. 300 people were killed,
including 52 women and 66 children – same as in the Donetsk tragedy.
Initially, the Americans denied their responsibility – they said the
aircraft flew in a forbidden area, and the pilot did not respond to
friend/foe request. President Reagan acquitted the commander of the
cruiser that shot down a civilian airliner. Later it turned out, the
airliner flew at a permitted altitude, gave the right responses to the
query, but the ship’s missile defence system, the Aegis, misinterpreted
the signals, and the captain pushed the red button.
In February 1973, Israel shot down a Libyan civilian airliner and killed
more than a hundred passengers. The airliner strayed from its route
during a sandstorm and Israeli fighter-interceptors shot it down.
Israelis said the flag of Libya looked similar to the flag of Egypt, or
the plane could be hijacked by terrorists, for it flew towards Israel …
In the end, Israel has been deemed guilty, the state never conceded its
guilt but paid for the insurance.
In these two cases, there was no real war, even though it was a tension
in the area. But Donbass has had a full-scale war at the time. Anyone of
the combatants could bring down the ill-fated aircraft, mistaking it for
an enemy – if they had technical means.
The sloppy Ukrainians could do it even in peace time out of sheer
recklessness as they downed the
Siberia flight from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk ten years
ago. To this very day the Ukrainians haven’t admitted their fault.
Conspiracy theories can be useful – they calm media-induced frenzy. But
I would not take them seriously. At war, the qui
prodest rule is not working. People and planes can be
destroyed just by chance. Israel was a beneficiary of the tragedy, as it
diverted the world’s attention from the bloody war in Gaza. Kolomoysky,
an Israeli citizen, fiery Zionist, a tycoon and the ruler of
Dnepropetrovsk, a man capable of anything, was a man partly responsible
for the crash, as his dispatchers ordered the liner to lower its
altitude, and the captain Vladislav Voloshin was under his command. But
this does not mean that Zionists downed the plane.
I am certain the Russians weren’t knowingly involved, for they opened
all their secret communications for the investigators to see. If they
were involved, the Americans would see it via their satellites, and they
would spread the word right away. But the US keeps mum; they did not
present their data. Nor did the Kiev regime: they sit on the recordings
of the dispatchers with the plane. Will they publish their records? I
One thing is certain – peace be upon the victims. Allah Yerham, Lord
have mercy on them, as our Arab brothers say in such cases. Anton
Chekhov, the playwright, said: a gun hanging on the wall in the first
act will be shot by the last act. So is a resolution referring to
Chapter VII. Good that the Russians had guts to veto the draft and
postponed a war for another time. Otherwise, we would have to ask for
the Lord’s mercy on great many people.
First published at the Unz Review
Israel Shamir can be contacted at email@example.com