MH17: Rush to non-judgement

“The Accused” screamed the front page of yesterday’s Libération, always a good guide to what the right-thinking left-leaning French person thinks, against a picture of Vladimir Putin. The argument, inasmuch as there was one, was that Putin, by providing political, and possibly some military assistance to the Ukrainian separatists, is, sort, of, morally responsible for the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, by Ukrainians armed with Ukrainian weapons, if they are indeed the culprits. But then what do you expect? Logic?

In effect, all the thunderous vilification of Putin (rather than the supposed perpetrators) has a hysterical and slightly forced quality to it, as though western elites are stuck in a groove they can’t get out of, with a volume control that only goes in one direction. But there’s something perfunctory about it, all the same.

What has happened, I think, is that western political and media elites have just received a terrible shock, a douche of freezing cold water. They have perhaps begun to understand that, yes, the Russians really do not want NATO troops stationed on their borders, and that important parts of the population of the East of the country are looking to Russia for protection. Who would ever have thought it? If this goes on, people could start to get killed. Oh, wait a minute….

Perhaps the irruption of such terrible violence will have a salutary effect on western capitals, and make them less inclined to play silly games in future. We must hope so. In the meantime, as usual, the guilty have been named before the investigation has even taken place.

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