The entire Australian political establishment seized on the tragic deaths of 298 people in the crash of MH17 in Ukraine to ratchet up the escalating U.S. led provocations against Russia. Before any investigation team reached the disaster site in eastern Ukraine, the Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, followed by the Labor Party Opposition – the two wings of a decaying sub-tropical Westminster System – accused Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the plane, and called for retribution against the rebels and Russia itself.
Over the next two months The AIMN will be publishing weekly installments of Dr George Venturini’s* outstanding analysis on the events, aftermath, and political gamesmanship from the tragedy.
The tragedy of MH17 developed in several acts: the event, 17 July 2014. Within days the separatists eastern Ukrainians delivered the flight recorders to Malaysian investigators; the Russia authorities delivered all evidence it had, including from satellites to the Dutch administrative and judicial authorities. There followed a first tentative inspection by the Dutch Safety Board, which led to a draft Preliminary Report, finalised on 9 September 2014. At the same time the Russian Union of Engineers was preparing its report which was issued on 15 August 2014 and made available in English the following month. Both reports refer to “a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside” (from the Dutch Report, at pp. 25 and 30). These are “30 millimeter calibre projectile[s]”, as the Russian Report detailed (at para. 7.1.1), bullets from a military aircraft single-barrelled cannon GSH-30, usually arming an SU-25 or a MIG-29. The eastern Ukraine separatists have no aircraft.
On 9 September 2014 Prime Minister Abbott asserted that: “The finding [of the Dutch Report] are consistent with the government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile.” The separatists had no such missile launcher.
Lying continued unabated. One does not know whether a secret agreement between Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine, signed on 8 August 2014 was discussed with the Malaysian Prime Minister on the occasion of Mr. Abbott’s visit on 6 September 2014. In the framework of the agreement, information on the progress and result of the final investigation would remain ‘classified’. Any one of the signatories has the right to veto publication.
The Australian Government, and both private and public sources have consistently lied keeping the public in the customary fog of ignorance.
Off-stage a ferocious battle is being fought with Russia by American oil interests for the conquest of the European oil and natural gas market. And that is the reason, possibly for a search of a casus belli, and certainly for a series of economic sanctions on Russia.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17
On 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER, operating as flight MH17, departed Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands at 10.31 a.m. on a scheduled passenger flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. On the way it crashed in eastern Ukraine. Data from the flight data recorder and the digital cockpit voice recorder both stopped at 12.20:03. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.
According to the passenger manifest released by Malaysia Airlines there were on board: 192 Dutch, 29 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 10 British, 4 Belgians, 4 Germans, 3 Filipinos, 1 Canadian and 1 New Zealander. All 15 crew members were from Malaysia. The nationalities indicated are based on the passports which were used for check-in. Some of the passengers had multiple nationalities, causing differences in nationality numbers published in the media. Eleven passengers were aliens with permanent residence in Australia.
It was an unspeakable tragedy and a criminal act which sent shock waves around the world.
Nobody yet knows who was responsible for this crime, despite ‘Western’ media and governments pointing the finger at either the rebel forces in eastern Ukraine – whom the ‘West’ accuses Russia of arming – or the Russian military itself.
Amid claims and counter claims by all sides, each force denies responsibility and there is no obvious motive for any force deliberately to carry out such an atrocity.
The United Nations Security Council has called for “a full, thorough and independent international investigation.” But, whether this has any hope of leading to clarity on the incident remains to be seen.
Yet many ‘Western’ governments, with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott joining in, are exploiting this tragedy and using it to escalate rhetoric and tensions with Russia, raising the prospect of the Ukrainian war expanding.
The hypocrisy of the United States government is especially galling. The U.S. also has its own history of shooting down passenger planes. The U.S. air force infamously shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in Iranian airspace in 1988. All 290 civilians on board were killed, including 66 children. Despite reaching an agreement to pay compensation to families of the victims, the U.S. has never officially accepted responsibility or apologised.
The fog over and around Australia
In 1788 the English invaded a piece of Earth, later to be called Australia. That was a “defining moment in the history of this continent” according to the Prime Minister – 30 August 2014. In the 1980s Tony Abbott was in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
A distracted, fun-seeking short-time tourist would be deceived by the sleepy backwater of the place, and the sense of bonhomie of its new inhabitants. S/he would not be aware of their propensity for violence – at home and abroad. At home? Just ask ‘domestic violence’ women, or sexually abused children, or prison inmates, or brutalised asylum seekers, or the homeless, or the old people dumped in squalid accommodations, all the needy et cetera – the signs of an ‘un-society’. Or find time to attend gladiatorial encounters of football teams, that kind of ‘sport’ being the religious succor of a pagan populace. Abroad? Check the historical record: apart from an ‘un-acknowledged’ – and never-mentioned – civil war on the original inhabitants, 1791 to 1928, there is the record of expeditions to ‘wars for the asking’, from New Zealand 1845,1860-61 through Sudan 1885; South Africa 1899-1902; China 1900-01; on several fronts during the first world war, 1914-18; Russia 1919-21; on several fronts during the second world war, 1939-47; Malaya 1948-60; Korea 1950-53; Indonesian ‘confrontation’ 1962-66; Malaya-Malaysia 1964-66; Vietnam 1962-75; Thailand 1965-68; Somalia 1992-94; East Timor 1999-2203; Afghanistan 2001, to Iraq in 2003. The loss of Australian lives is close to 103,000. And one is projecting another ‘khaki-election’ in 2016.
Having begun as a province of Britain, the place went on to become an appendage of the United States. Since 1942, when Britain abandoned Australia before the threat of a Japanese invasion, and with the exception of the short and tormented Whitlam Government, all Australian governments have continued to pay tribute to the American administrations. From Korea to Iraq and down to MH17 they know that the Australian blank cheque they hold can always be cashed in. Meanwhile, the place remains a quarry for rapacious multinationals, increasingly the victim of a corporatised world of widening inequality.
It is a place separated from the rest of the world by a thick curtain of fog. Behind it resides a vegetative populace – composed mainly of ‘abandoned Britons’ who are mal-governed with imitative English institutions, given to old-fashioned rituals and left behind when the English officially went ‘home’. One of such rituals is a ‘parliamentary democracy’, which actually is no higher than a spectator sport, abysmally played by parochial amateurs, mainly for lack of imagination.
The majority of politically apathetic Australians enjoy such a system, because the half-educated do not have to worry about keeping themselves informed. If there is any intellectuality it should better be left at home, lest it be confronted with irascible ignorance and characteristic impatience with complexity.
It is a frightened place, forever afraid, where a crude, self-interested and ignorant populace defines it ‘enemies’ by their ‘colour’: the Red Menace first, then the Yellow Peril which is always coming; the Russians are anew under the beds; and, now, the Muslims are ‘attempting to pervert’. Such are the terms of a un-society of xenophobes, racists and all sorts of hate-bags, telestupefied by Murdochian media. A colonial-minded and derivative business ‘culture’ sees ‘Asia’, to which some insist that Australia belongs, with its millions of ‘faceless hordes’, as no more than an economic machine, a grand teat which is to provide continuous well-being for Australians – particularly its upper levels of mindless triumphalists, racketeers of the mediocre all.
The initial risk, now realising, that the place could end up an economic colonial quarry disturbs occasionally – but passes on.
As Donald R. Horne wrote: “There is no longer in Australia a generally accepted public sense of a future.” But there remains a repressed bad conscience. Here is Horne again: “It is as if a whole generation has become exhausted by events, a provincial generation produced in a period when mindlessness was a virtue, the self-interest of pressure groups was paramount, cleverness had to be disguised, quick action was never necessary and what happened overseas was irrelevant.”
Australians speak of Asia as if they were still living in Europe.
Another, thick, permanent fog keeps them away from ‘the world, over there’.
Plentiful supporting views were provided by visitors: D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo (1923), J.M.D. Pringle, Australian accent (1958) and confirmed by a well known and respected Australian author, D.R. Horne, The lucky country (1964), an indictment of an unimaginative place, its cosy provincialism, its cultural cringe and its subliminal ‘White Australia’ policy. He wrote: “Many of the nation’s affairs are conducted by racketeers of the mediocre who have risen to authority in a non-competitive community where they are protected in their adaptation of other people’s ideas.”
Such words could never be more apt to describe the present political leadership, whose ‘captain’ expresses its ‘policies’ through three-word slogans: ‘Stop the boats’ – capturing asylum seekers, quickly to be sent to concentration camps; ‘Bring them home’ – with reference to the victims dispersed on eastern Ukraine by the downing of MH17.
Indeed, as Horne wrote, “Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia.”
Fifty years after such words were written they still describe, even more poignantly true today, “a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.”
Continuously disregarded is the work of J. Pilger, who just recently observed that “Australia is a land of excuses [for inaction], not the land of the ‘fair go for all’.”
An apathetic and uninformed mass of gamblers, electing clueless second-rate politicians to govern, is sending the place to the dogs.
As recently as 15 August 2014 a 24 year old university student abandoned himself to the following considerations: “Ignorance is slowly killing our country. Ignorance has landed us with the government and prime minister dubbed ‘Australia’s George Bush’.”
He lamented that “most people [his] age in [his] life have no idea about politics. They find it boring. They find it petty and dull. They would rather discuss sport, or Facebook – stuff more pertinent to their own lives.”
What seems astounding to a ‘visitor’ of 48 years – and still an Outsider – is the apparent ‘disconnect’ of the young people. To the extent that they are ‘connected’ they are so by the use of their cell phones, iPods and whatever new electronic gadgetry arrives from the rarefied air of Southern California or emerges from the tech-industry. Such ‘connection’ is limited to what their ‘friends’, family (?) do with ‘music’ and games. Some seem furiously texting away while others in coffee shops, internet cafes, public transport, even bookstores are on their lap top computers reading, writing, perhaps for college course, possibly their employment – or looking for one. Hard to tell!
But what they really know about a farce of democratic practice, of impeding threats (climate change and the corresponding rising of sea levels), or of the excruciating drama of asylum seekers (which has seen Australia condemned as recently as August this year by the United Nations Human Rights Committee), or of the degrading condition of the Indigenous People, or of the systematic violation of the civil liberties by the very government charged with protecting them, or of education reform – which is permanently kept on the boil and now more than ever seems to be ‘re-oriented’ towards ‘religious education’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one!), or of recent events such as the downing of MH17.
As the grieving student concluded: “We are an ignorant bunch, aside from a minority (and it is a minority) of politically active, interested people. You know, the type who see voting as a privilege, not a draining chore which takes them away from the beach or beer.”
And at the cretinous cry of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi !”, and half-imbued in the rhetoric of the ‘fair go’, a seemingly fortified ignorant populace’s lack of awareness, indifferent to the inability to recognise the sinister nature of its government, continues to support and defend that government’s actions and policies – and to dismiss any criticism as un-Australian.
That applies to the case of the downing of MH17.
In such ignorance the populace is protected by the other even thicker fog which permanently covers the place.
Next week: An avalanche of inconvenient questions.
* Dr. Venturino Giorgio (George) Venturini has devoted sixty years to the study, practice, teaching, writing and administering of law in four continents. He is the author of eight books and about 100 articles and essays for learned periodicals and conferences. Since his ‘retirement’ Dr. Venturini has been Senior Associate in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash; he is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, Melbourne. He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.