The OJ Simpson and MH 17 juries

If people do not want to believe, they simply do not believe. People do not want to believe the Russians had anything to do with the downing of MH17. In the same way, a jury acquitted OJ because they just did not want to believe overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

The thing that amazes me is that people whom I assume to be rational, the libertarian right including Rand Paul, continued to repeat arguments on behalf of Moscow. They ask, “Where is the proof that the separatists (always “separatists,” not “Russian-sponsored aggressors” or “terrorists”) downed MH 17?” They want a smoking gun.

The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. The Russians had surface-to-air missiles capable of bringing down highflying aircraft. They brought down three in the week before MH 17. After MH 17, there was a guilty pause, after which it resumed, bringing down two Ukrainian Sukhoi planes flying at over 20,000 feet.

Ukrainians intercepted and released telephone chatter captured at the time amongst separatists, indicating that they had shot down an airplane. Igor Strelkov penned a triumphant war cry on Twitter, saying: ‘We warned you – do not fly in “our sky”, only to retract it when it turned out to be a civilian aircraft. The spin was first that it was a “rush to judgment,” then “why are you taking so long?”

The Russians have advanced, and then not supported, a number of other theories. I haven’t deeply researched the all of them, but there was one theory that the Ukrainians were trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s airplane. Another theory is that MH17 was down by cannon fire from a Ukrainian air force Sukhoi fighter. They produced photographs showing cannon damage to some wreckage and they redacted Wikipedia to raise the operating ceiling of the Sukhoi aircraft to 33,000 feet. Then it all changed back, and the arguments have been forgotten.

The terrorists/separatists denied investigators access to the black boxes for a couple weeks. They denied international investigators access to the crash site. They did not control looting of the bodies – an indignity which horrifies the West, but is endemic among steppe raiders such as the Cossacks and Chechens that Putin has smuggled into Ukraine as mercenaries. Ukrainians decry their presence; Moscow ignores the claims.

Conversely, the Ukrainians had no weapons, no motive, and no history of taking such unprincipled action at a state level.

The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. The terrorists had the means – antiaircraft missiles, which they repeatedly use before and after. The fact that they are unprincipled mercenaries under the command of Russian citizens is undisputed. The connection of those Russian citizens to Russia’s intelligence services and military is likewise undisputed. They had a strong motive, to protect their fighters on Ukrainian territory. They acted guilty, inventing any number of subterfuges to cover up the crime. The fact that it is not enough to convince people is strong evidence that these people really, really do not want to be convinced. The question then is, why not?

The most benign explanation is that some conservatives believe that Russia offers a better system of government and life itself than that of the corrupt, decadent West. Many think that the West is so far gone in its endorsement of homosexuality, libertinism and self-indulgence that it will never be able to return to its traditions. Moreover, conservatives claim that white people in the West are allowing themselves to be inundated by massive immigration from the third world and a regime of political correctness that dictates that the white man is always in the wrong.

In this instance, the case against the west is quite strong. Whites, men, gentiles and straight people are constantly accused of crimes against which they are powerless to mount a defense. Heading the list are anti-Semitism, racism and sexism. We are constantly on the defense against every imaginable group of self-styled victims. They seem to invent themselves weekly, and we are always, somehow, the putative aggressors. Or, “microaggressors,” an expression which means that we are guilty despite our lack of intent or even awareness.

It is the notion that the Russia offers a better alternative that doesn’t stand up very well under investigation. While it is true that the Russians are not given to homosexuality, at least not overtly, Russia is hardly a bastion of healthy families. The Russians tend to be depressed and inclined toward alcohol instead of having children. The intellectual climate is stifling; freedom of the press, never strong, is rapidly being extinguished. Intellectuals are fleeing to the West, leaving behind the unimaginative masses that have little in the way of education, job prospects or children. It is not Russia, but rather central Europe, notably Western Ukraine and Poland, where there is a margin of optimism, where marriage seems to be thriving and the birthrate rising.

The notion that Russia offers a better system of government is false. A stronger case can be made that Russia will be the last redoubt of the white man, though it is a frightening thought to consider. The idea appeals to the European nationalist parties and American advocates of the white man’s interest such as Pat Buchanan and Jared Taylor.

The third and least honorable reason I offer for the support of the Russians is financial. Many of the libertarian pundits such as Paul Craig Roberts are supported by reader contributions. They are forever shaking their tin cup in their readers’ faces. No doubt there are some of them who can be bought, and Russia is expert at identifying such vulnerabilities. Getting in bed with Moscow also saves a writer the effort of actually, well, writing. Moscow does it for them.

Many European politicians such as Helmut Schmidt are Russia’s paid lobbyists. Schmidt, for example, came out immediately in defense of Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

Russian aggression stands to make tons of money for investors. It is no secret that the Western financial system is on the brink of collapse. The central banks are printing money at ever increasing rates, incurring debt that can never be repaid. It is a house of cards that is bound to fall. Fortunes are to be made timing its fall. In particular, people who invest in hard assets such as gold can expect to be richly rewarded when the bubble breaks. On the other hand, it takes money for a leveraged player to stay in the game, and the central banks have had surprising success in prolonging the charade, propping up their currencies and stock markets and depressing the price of precious metals. When rooting for Russia, gold bugs like Paul Craig Roberts are simply talking their own book.

Ukraine a bystander to this drama. The tragedy is that the people of Ukraine genuinely deserve the West’s moral support. They are the people rose up against a corrupt oligarchy. As much as both Russia and the United States would like to pretend otherwise, Maidan was a genuine popular uprising of people fed up with Vladimir Putin’s puppet, Viktor Yanukovych. Ukrainians, tired of centuries of domination and abuse by Russia, expressed their disgust by chasing the bum out. Uncharacteristically, they rallied as one people to support a new president, Poroschenko. Ukraine is united as never before to confront Russian aggression. This has to be frustrating to investors itching for the collapse of the West so they can collect on their bets on gold.

It is absolutely unconscionable to throw the Ukrainian people to the wolves just to make a little money, but that appears to be what the most strident conservatives in the West are doing. Shame on them. It makes me want to renounce my lifelong conservatism. Far better to be patient and allow truly conservative, traditional people like the Ukrainians to develop their own way, combining traditional values and representative government with a proud and uncompromised ethnic heritage.

For now our hopes lie with the West, whose regime of sanctions and moralizing appears to be surprisingly effective in containing Russian aggression in Ukraine. However, if and when the Russian threat is blunted, Ukraine has to remember to remain true to itself and not fall into the thrall of the West. That way also lies danger. As always in its long history, Ukraine is between a rock and a hard place. Let us pray for the faith and fortitude that has carried the country through past disasters.

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Slava Ukraina – Glory to Ukraine

I am proud of Ukrainians. I think that they are doing a great deal right in a very difficult situation. I disagree with the newspaper articles I read daily which attempt to point out one shortcoming or another. Certainly shortcomings exist, but it is a complex situation in which the right answers are hard to know.

Ukraine is no match militarily for Russia. It has a new government, in place only for a few months. That government, particularly its military and intelligence services, are riddled with spies who were salted their during the pro-Russian administration of Victor Yanukovych, which ended only a few months ago. They are underequipped, undertrained and underbudgeted. Their task is an extremely difficult one.

Russia, a country three times its size whose natural resources afford it a much larger budget, has been working hard to create turmoil in Ukraine. Russia has five centuries of experience destabilizing and gobbling up its neighbors, adding them to its empire. The catalog of neighboring countries that have successfully resisted Russia’s advances is relatively short. The last was Finland, which held off Stalin in 1939. It came at great cost in land and men, but they did it. Afghanistan, with outside help, survived until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia has a stable government with long experience in propaganda. Their lies are being spread as gospel by a new set of friends, this time so-called conservatives. The Russians have co-opted the nationalist movements in Europe and the libertarians in the United States. It is as frightening as when the Communists were the darlings of the left in those places. Somehow starry eyed idealists never seem to learn. This time the illusion is that Putin is a good Christian supporter of traditional values. Though that image is hard to reconcile with murder, mistresses and pervasive corruption, it must satisfy the conservatives’ innate desire to believe in something.

One must agree that there is much not to like in modern Europe and the United States. The welfare state is coming to the end of its rope. The budget deficits are unsustainable, third-world immigration is irreversible, and the social decay is pervasive. All these things being true do not mean that Russia offers a better alternative. Whatever problems the West has, to embrace Putin is to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. It may be true that Obama, the NSA and the bureaucrats in the United States are smothering America’s freedoms. Those freedoms still look pretty good upon examining the despotism Putin has to offer.

The most impressive thing about Ukraine’s resistance has been the country’s quiet resolve. Yanukovych tried hard to provoke the Ukrainian people to violence. He brought his thugs, the titushki, in from the country in order to start fights. He sent in his riot police, the Berkut, to provoke the demonstrators in Maidan. Although a few did respond with violence, the vast majority remained peaceful. That peaceful majority yielded 100 martyrs when Yanukovych lost his cool and had his Berkut open fire with live ammunition. Those martyrs died not in vain. Yanukovych was unable to break the will of the demonstrators, unable to goad them into actions that might have justified, in the eyes of the world, his suppressing them. Instead, Yanukovych chose to flee to Russia. His puppet master Putin, giving him shelter and a place to stash his pelf, hid him away as an embarrassment and took over.

It is now Putin’s turn to be goading Ukraine. He is shipping arms to the “separatists,” provocateurs that he himself sent. He is staffing them with Russian military and KGB in leadership positions. He is paying Chechnyan and Cossack mercenaries to do nastiest of the dirty work in the uprising. And, Russia is firing at the Ukrainians across the Russian border. Ukraine has turned the other cheek in this case also. They are not returning fire.

Though it costs a few lives, Ukraine is not giving the Russians the casus belli and they are looking for. They are not affording the Russians any excuse to invade. Ukraine is making it more and more clear to the world that this situation is exactly what they claim, a case of unprovoked Russian aggression. By their patience, the Ukrainians are slowly winning the world’s admiration, and more important, the grudging conviction that Ukraine must be defended against Russian aggression. As British Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home said, “The Russians move when they see an opportunity. They always have. Like a knife, they push ahead when they hit butter, and back away when they hit steel. Where they run into unity and strength, relations tend to improve. Russian policy seeks a maximum of confusion for a minimum of commitment.” The West is awakening the reality that they have been as soft as butter, and the threat is unbounded. The threat is not just to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and the Baltics, but eventually to them as well.

For their courage and wisdom I salute the Ukrainian people. This is a difficult battle, an uncertain battle. Given all of the handicaps facing the country, I think the Ukrainian people are doing a marvelous job in fighting it. We of the West owe them our thanks and our support. Slava Ukraina. Glory to Ukraine.