When things go wrong, when it all hits the fan, it's easy to make connections which don't exist in an attempt to make sense of the chaos. With another Malaysian passenger plane coming to a tragic end today, this time over disputed territory in Ukraine, the internet is buzzing with half baked conspiracy theories and international finger pointing.
On one hand, many people are trying to tie this incident to the other Malaysian passenger jet which disappeared a few months ago. Foolish. On the other hand, the Russian government is taking an international wrist slapping from their Western wet nurse, Barrack Obama. The American President's words of warning are as weak, feeble, and laughable as any he issues to the true global badasses of the world. Regardless of which side of this international incident you're sitting on, you're wrong.
First of all, there seems to be no connection to the first doomed Malaysian airliner, other than the fact that they were both Malaysian. The first flight basically disappeared into thin air, no credit taken for its hijacking or destruction. That's not typically how terrorism works. When it comes to scaring the bejeezuz out of the good people of Earth, you raise your hand before the question is even asked. As a matter of fact, you take credit for things you DIDN'T do. Being a terrorist is a lot like being a schoolyard bully or a street tough: your reputation is everything, the scarier the better. Conspiracy theories and open mysteries aside, such as why were all of the passengers mobile devices still active presumably after crashing, the first incident does not seem to be an act of terrorism at all. The record paints a picture of a pilot with extremist views who earlier in the day witnessed firsthand his political hero torn apart in public on what may be false charges of homosexuality. It seems much more likely, based on further personal information released to the public, the pilot himself had some sort of internal breakdown, and forced the passengers of his vessel to share in his demise. Don't rush to point the finger at Russia, though.
I've long admired Vladimir Putin. Not as a humanitarian. And I probably wouldn't hire him to work the phones at a customer service call center. But as a leader, as a guy who makes things happen, there's Putin and everyone else. Former KGB, a strategic savant, and as much as Westerners fear and detest him, he's the most American Russian leader of our time. We aren't talking about Nikita Khrushchev using his shoe as a gavel to get attention. This isn't Soviet traitor Gorbachev, or drunken gangster Boris Yeltsin. Putin is ice cold, unless it comes to the children of his land. He projects an image of the tough, rustic, barrel chested Russian, one man with a nation's former glory and future prosperity resting square on his shoulders. He doesn't engage in doomsday rhetoric like his predecessors. He shrugs his shoulders and essentially says, "So what, this is what I'm doing. Cast your stones at your own house." He is what we once prided our own American heroes as being.
Hey, I'm not an amateur. I know it's a PR game. But it's a really really good one. Which is why we know the Russians, at least at the highest levels, had nothing to do with bringing the plane down. Why would Putin, who scrambles fighter jets just to get a rise out of his neighbors, sign off on shooting down a passenger plane with a spitball shooter? Buuut...that doesn't mean he isn't shrugging his shoulders saying "So what?"
Putin may paint the picture of the ideal Russian man. One look at photographs of your average Russian soldier tells a different story, though. Gaunt, scrawny, fear in the eyes. The average Russian soldier serves out of fear. Fear of unemployment, fear of poverty, fear of starvation. They aren't incredibly well trained, but they're warm bodies. Expendable. The Russian way.
So if the professional Russian soldier is basically a hungry teenager who still can't pass his driver's license road test, who do you think makes up the Russian loyalists in Ukraine? To put it into perspective, we are talking about the equivalent of a junior varsity Crips set. So you say to yourself, "how the hell do a bunch of amateurs take down an aircraft at several thousand feet?" Easy! They have the best toys in the game!
I'm no hardware junkie, but the Russian Gadfly goes back to the 1970s and was developed for taking down both aircraft and cruise missiles. If there's one thing the Soviets were pretty good at, it was building a war machine. So now we put sophisticated surface to air technology in the hands of virtual amateurs. And they like to play. They've been taking down anything that moves for over a week. Do you really think these guys knew what they were shooting at? Do you think it mattered? No more than it matters to a 13 year old gang banger sticking up an elderly couple at the ATM.
The world is full of tragedy. Today's is hardly special. Spend too much time worrying about today, you won't have time to brace for tomorrow. Until clear evidence of Russian government involvement, stand confident in that those who died today have died in vain. No reason. No purpose. Wrong place. Wrong time in history.