Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Putin crosses the 'Lockerbie line'

[This is the headline over an article by Brian Whitmore published yesterday on the Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty website. It reads in part:]

The Kremlin released an odd video statement early on July 21 in which a visibly haggard Vladimir Putin blamed Kyiv for the disaster, called for negotiations to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and warned that "nobody has the right to use this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends."  (...)

"Although the Crimean and Ukrainian operations have shown how effective even seemingly crude information warfare can be in distracting, bamboozling, and blunting Western concern, it is hard to see how Moscow can spin this one away," Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia's security services at New York University and co-host of the Power Vertical Podcast, wrote in Foreign Policy.
On last week's podcast, a recurring theme was that Putin had crossed something that Kirill Kobrin, co-editor of the Moscow-based history magazine Neprikosnovenny zapas, called "the Lockerbie line," in reference to the terrorist attack that downed Pan American Flight 103 in 1988.
That is, that, like Muammar Qaddafi then, the Russian president may have crossed the psychological point where it becomes very difficult -- if not impossible -- to even pretend that he is a respectable leader anymore.
"It is going to be very difficult not to regard Putin's Russia as essentially an aggressive, subversive, and destabilizing nation after this. This one plane becomes symbolic of so much more," Galeotti said on the podcast.
"I do think that Russia's position in the world will have changed irrevocably. I do think people will be thinking of Putin and the Putin regime as a problem. And the inclination is going to be: What do we do about this problem?"
Others, like Washington Post columnist and author Anne Applebaum, have picked up on the Lockerbie metaphor.
"When the Libyan government brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, the West closed ranks and isolated the Libyan regime," Applebaum wrote in a recent column.
[A much closer analogy than Lockerbie to the MH17 tragedy is, of course, the shooting down of Iran Air flight 655 by the USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. But for some reason American commentators never seem to mention that incident (and mainstream British and European commentators very rarely do, either). Funny, that.]


  1. At least there is a cynical consistency between the Ukrainian tragedy, Lockerbie and the Iran flight.

    The planes had hardly been blown from the skies when the dissembling began to save face and divert responsibility.

    Sadly few if any government’s hands are clean and deflection, hypocrisy and the ‘public interest’ are the weapons of choice whenever the system is threatened.

    In the case of Lockerbie however many years of campaigning by relatives and those who saw the ‘cover up’ as a personal insult to Scotland and its people has led to the position where Police Scotland is investigating 9criminal allegations, the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee is maintaining a watching brief over developments and the SCCRC is considering the relatives submission to return Mr Megrahi’s conviction to the appeal court for review.

    I hope that the Ukrainian victims, their families and friends have such doughty advocates and that they don’t have to wait for over 25 years to learn the truth about the actions that led to the loss of their loved ones.

  2. Hi Bob,

    Whenever the word "Liberty" appears in an organisation's title, people should also look out for the CIA's favourite word "misinformation".

    Leaving that aside, it's important also to remember that the official Pentagon report on the July 1988 Vincennes destruction of Iran Air flight 655 blamed Iran for carelessly flying passenger jets over a combat zone.

    The word was also passed to favoured journalists and network stations to suggest that Iran had done it deliberately in the hope that the plane would be destroyed. The favoured commentators duly obliged.

    Meanwhile Captain Rogers got his Congressional medal for his defence of "Liberty".

    Ho Hum, the human condition never ceases to amaze.

  3. Again, synonymous with Lockerbie perceptions illustrated in the above article, we are invited into a parallel universe where the simple political concepts we grew up with are not only redundant, but are used to exploit us and push hidden agendas entirely contrary to the values they purportedly advance.

    Conventional discourse and definition of Russia as a more brazenly corrupt, morally bankrupt gangster state than anything existing in the West is both a caricature and unreflective of the brazenly corrupt, morally bankrupt gangster states the West is single-handedly propping up all over the world

    The people of the Crimea are not victims, but empowered, whereas the people of the Ukraine are the victims - of a coup; the Crimea has suffered no loss of sovereignty if you believe self-determination is derived from the will of the majority. Meanwhile those who have fled the Eastern Ukraine - into Russia - are estimated anywhere between 100-300,000.

    I note a discreet and subtle shift from the US on the prevailing and incessant narrative over the last few days:(from BBC) "American intelligence officials on Tuesday said evidence suggested the rebels may have shot down the jet "by mistake", and that no direct link to Russia had been found. However, Russia "created the conditions" for downing flight MH17.."

    Perceptions and beliefs however, have already been created.