As America implodes, Putin prevails

Peter Jackson
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On Tuesday morning, the news from Ukraine was that the Train of Death was finally moving.
Boxcars full of rotting, mangled corpses — some of the almost 300 tourists, students, researchers and other innocent civilians — slowly tolled away from a massive rebel-held crash zone towards a base in eastern Ukraine.

After five days of wrangling over limited access to the site, authorities are trying to piece together what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Actually, it’s already clear what happened. A Russia-supplied Buk missile system brought the plane down. It was fired by pro-Russian rebels, who had already downed a couple of Ukrainian warplanes in the days previous. In fact, it was more likely operated by Russian military personnel, since the Buk is not the sort of gadget a garden variety rebel would know how to fire.

If there was any doubt about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reckless thirst for power and influence before last Thursday, there can be little doubt now.

Even today, with blood of innocents on his hands, he refuses to acknowledge Russia’s culpability in this tragedy.

Putin may be popular at home, but in the west he’s viewed as a self-obsessed grandstander and thug.

Unless, of course, you’re a U.S. Republican.

Little can match the hypocrisy of the recent right-wing love affair with Putin that arose during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis a year ago August.

As the U.S. threatened punitive air strikes against the Syrian regime, Putin stepped in with an alternative: let’s just take the weapons away from them. He brokered a deal that saw the last remaining weapons put aboard a U.S. ship earlier this month.

This, we’re told, made Putin a better leader than his counterpart, Barack Obama.

A commentary on put it this way: “There is some division among Republicans who cannot quite decide if they want to fight Vladimir Putin or fornicate with (him), but one thing is clear; conservatives think he is a ‘real leader’ and lust for a Republican president like Putin.”

Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, went so far last August to tweet that “Putin is the leader of the free world.”

Even as recently as this March, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani praised Putin’s leadership qualities on Fox News.

“Putin decides what he wants to do and he does it in half a day. … He makes a decision and he executes it quickly. Then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader.”

On the other hand, Giuliani said, “President Obama has gotta think about it, he’s gotta go over it again. He’s gotta talk with more people.”

Some Republicans touted the fact Putin occasionally appears with his shirt off.

“People look at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil,” said Sarah Palin, “and our president wears mom jeans and equivocates.”

How grand that the bare-chested Putin can make his choices so decisively, without getting bogged down in expert consultation or, heaven forbid, parliament.

Of course, when Obama makes decisions outside of Congress, he is slammed as overbearing and undemocratic.

Comedian Jon Stewart summed up the Republican line as follows: “Barack Obama is a weak, mom jeans-wearing dictator king!”

Which would still be funny, were it not for a planeload of humanity blown from the sky during a reckless campaign of separation orchestrated by Russia’s “real leader.”

The drivel that passes for debate in America these days makes you wonder whether the country won’t one day implode into total irrelevance.

If it does, oligarchs like Putin will be fully free to exercise their jackboot diplomacy, unencumbered by the pesky checks and balances of democracy.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email:

Organizations: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.Actually, Fox News

Geographic location: America, Russia, New York City

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Recent comments

  • Doug Smith
    July 25, 2014 - 09:48

    Nichol, what I claim as facts are a result of what I get from news sources. For example, my assertion that Putin had nothing to do with the disaster, The Daily Mail online dated 23 July 2014, reports, “US intelligence officials today, offered no evidence that Vladimir Putin was directly involved.” My assertion that it was the rebels who shot the plane down by mistake, is backed up by the following from The Daily Mail. “The plane was probably shot down by an SA11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said”. “They also said that after analysing taped conversation between separatists obtained by US intelligence it could be all but concluded that the culprits did not realize they were targeting a commercial airliner.” “Five days into it(following the crash) it does appear to be a mistake, one official said.” “ A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had anti-aircraft missiles of the type Washington says were used to shoot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17”. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Peter Jackson
    July 24, 2014 - 10:24

    To Nichol and others: I don't have the luxury of space to cite all the facts and sources thereof. But if you've been following the coverage, I can't see how you can deny the obvious. For a good summary of the case against Russian-backed rebels, I recommend Gwynn Dyer's piece published within a day or two of the event:

    • Nichol
      July 24, 2014 - 11:18

      Peter, my comments were in reply to Doug Smith's comment, not as a critique of your opinion column, which seems reasonable. I read Gwynne Dyers opinion piece on MH 17. I did not deny anything, particularly the obvious.....which does not include whether or not it was Russian personnel turned murderers, or simply murdering rebels....mistake or not. The international experts will form those conclusions, not Mr. Smith.

    • Wolfman
      July 24, 2014 - 13:47

      ... or that the Ukranians just might have something to do with it....

  • Doug Smith
    July 23, 2014 - 09:26

    Perhaps, being aware of a few facts will help put the dreadful downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in proper context. 1) The downing of the jet was a mistake, an error, by the eastern Ukrainian rebels. 2) The area the Malaysian jet was flying over was a war zone. 3) Putin had absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Wolfman
      July 23, 2014 - 10:23

      The Kiev tower re-routed the plane 200 km north INTO the war zone and the tapes from the tower were confiscated by Ukranian authorities.... Oh, and who has the most to gain from this tradegy? Certainly not the rebels.

    • Nichol
      July 24, 2014 - 10:03

      I never cease to be amazed at experts like yourself, who are aware of the 'facts' before any of the investigative teams even post an interim report. Your comments are not facts, but suppositions on your part. Here are some known facts about the flight: It was in an authorized flight corridor, under the control of ATC, with an international flight plan filed, and was at an altitude of 33,000 ft. The airspace was closed at 32,000 ft. and below because of the rebel action in eastern Ukraine. The aircraft crashed, all aboard were killed. Your speculation on the cause and the perpetrators of these murders, which is what this tragedy will become if the investigation proves certain facts, remains exactly that.....speculation.

  • kd
    July 23, 2014 - 07:53

    Excellent article for the people who should think Russia is a demoracey look no further than the situation in the ukraine and the complete disregard for innocent lives with the destruction of the malaysian airlines

    • Wolfman
      July 23, 2014 - 09:14

      Likewise, those who think America is as democracy should look no further than Iraq and Iran Air Flight 655.

  • Politically Incorrect
    July 23, 2014 - 07:25

    So while we're castigating the Russians for supplying weapons to the Ukrainian rebels to the point of making Putin personally responsible, should we not also be charging Obama, Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Regan, Carter.... with the atrocities brought on by weapons we have sold or given friendly dictatorships (e.g. Saddam Hussain) and terrorist groups or so-called "freedom fighters" like the Contras? And what about supplying Israel with the tools to carry out its suppression of the Palestinian people?