I’ve been back from Cyprus for two days now, but it took me a while to adjust enough so that I can write again. Luckily, the article I worked on with Cracked.com in Ukraine finally came out. It had taken so long to get published that I started to get worried and published my own article about the trip just to make the whole thing worthwhile. Of course the Cracked article had the meat of our interviews with locals, and as of this writing it has just under half a million views. Being implicitly referred to as only “a translator” raised an eyebrow, given everything I had to do there, but I really don’t care- I’m just glad to see it published.
In more serious news, I was approached (on Twitter oddly enough) to speak about the recent Russian plane crash in the Sinai. Unfortunately this message came while I was in Cyprus, and quite possibly while I was still in the wilderness at the end of an eight-day camping trip. I first heard news of the disaster when I returned to civilization in Paphos.
In order to properly discuss my reaction I have to make a rather embarrassing confession- I have developed, only in the past couple of years, a sort of fear of flying. This is something I never had before; I used to love flying. Even after an incident in the army where I flew into Manhattan regional airport in a twin prop puddle jumper in the middle of a storm (which was accompanied by tornado warnings), I didn’t have any sort of anxiety about flying. For some reason, it was only maybe in 2013 that I began to develop this paranoia about flying, where every “unusual” bump or bank disturbs me, in spite of what I know about aircraft and their capabilities. Yes, something has gotten to me. I wonder what it is.
The flight to and from Cyprus has been the longest I’ve been on since one trip to London in the summer of 2013, so naturally hearing about this Russian plane crash was disconcerting in light of the confession above. Of course my rational brain started reacting immediately. The airline was a Russian regional carrier, not a top-tier Russian airline like Aeroflot or S7. It was an old plane. It had broken up in air; airplanes generally do not do this unless there is something very unusual afoot. Now, it’s looking more and more likely that it was a bomb planted on the plane itself. This is not the preferred way to get over one’s newfound fear of flying.
Naturally the destruction of so many innocent lives in a civilian airliner has caused some people to draw parallels between this and MH17. Personally I’d rather not, because the analogy is incorrect. What happened in the Donbas was a case of manslaughter or negligent homicide. The scumbags who provided the Buk and those who crewed it never intended to bring down a civilian airliner. If the world is ever lucky enough to see these people face justice, this must logically be taken into consideration when passing judgement on them. By contrast if it is confirmed that this Metrojet flight was brought down by a bomb planted on the plane, we know that those who planned and committed the deed knew full well what the results of their actions would be. These are people who deliberately target civilians and then engage in whataboutery that is ridiculously cynical even by Russian standards.
There are also those who want to say “I told you so,” connecting Russia’s recent adventure in Syria with the bombing. Indeed, just as 9/11 forced thinking Americans to start questioning the wisdom of their government’s foreign policy in the Middle East, Russians will sooner or later have to come to the realization that the slick Hollywood-inspired version of war they see on their TV screens comes at a price. But I don’t think this is the time to start hammering that point home. After all, Russia has suffered ongoing terrorism for years now, stemming from a conflict which it cannot so easily extricate itself from. The metro bombings in 2010 occurred a few stations from the line I lived on. What could Russia have done? Wall off the entire Caucasus?
And lastly, one could point out how RT is suddenly very concerned about getting the “official story” right. No Pepe Escobar floating conspiracy theories on Op Edge asking “qui bono” and suggesting that this was a “false flag” attack carried out by the Kremlin so as to justify further involvement in Syria. No “questioning more” about aspects of the “official story” which supposedly “don’t make sense.” Now RT wants to wait for all the facts, even if they come from the dreaded “mainstream media” of the West. Very well, let them. I’m sure there will be plenty of dipshits inside and outside of Russia who will concoct conspiracy theories surrounding this tragedy the same way Russia’s press did with MH17. To hell with the whole lot on both sides. Decent people should treat the victims of this disaster with dignity and respect, even if Russia did not do the same for the victims of MH17.
Those who see this crash as blood in the water for taking all kinds of cheap shots at Russia are the worst sort of cheerleaders. They cannot separate the lives of ordinary citizens from the government and its politics. Sure, you can argue that Russians are complicit due to their lack of activity, but how active were you in opposing the negative foreign policy of your government. I marched in several anti-war demonstrations and engaged in counter-recruitment work, but I doubt that would bring much solace to the victim of a US drone strike in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Maybe the best argument I have is that I left the US. If you live in the West, you have far more rights to oppose your government in public and participate in the process, so are you sure Russians are really more complicit in their government’s crimes than you are in those of your own government.
There are so many points that could be made, arguments to be made, and teachable moments to highlight, and yet I’d rather not. Sometimes being human is more important than making points or winning arguments. Those who seek to bring up this tragedy in any arguments or debates ought to at least wait for all the dead to be buried and the blood to dry. As for me, I have nothing more to say about it. Let them rest in peace.
UPDATE: Leave it to the scumbags of the Kremlin to start insulting the dead by politicizing their deaths to concoct new conspiracy theories about the West. Stay classy, Sputnik. Although I don’t know who did it first- Sputnik or War Nerd and his ridiculous unsubstantiated speculation on Pando.