Sunday, 20 July 2014

MH-17: Arming Favored Proxies

If war is ‘an area of uncertainty’, as Clausewitz famously said, then arming rump militias to go to war for you must be a formula for uncertainty times ten.

Some leftie sites are quick to float all sorts of conspiracy theories suggesting that a Russian-backed, separatist militia did not shoot down Malaysian Airlines flight #17. One guy whose observations I otherwise respect even asserts his conviction that it was the Ukrainian government itself.

This is the sort of stubborn monotheism that even astute dissidents are prone to slip into. I had a friend from Czechoslovakia years ago who said that when Pinochet staged his coup against Allende, all the liberal-minded people in her artsy set assumed it was a good thing since their own regime denounced it. A statement isn’t automatically false just because it was quoted on Fox News.

Putin probably thought things were going swimmingly for him given his successful snatching of Crimea and the ongoing chaos sown in the eastern Ukraine by his proxy irridentists, an imitation of his equally winning strategy in Georgia. You make sure your friends are armed and supported and can make permanent, militarized trouble for unfriendly governments, and you undermine their authority in quite satisfying ways.

In fact, it’s exactly what Reagan did by arming the contras and basing them in Honduras to weaken and finally smash the Nicaraguan revolution. But then there is this bitch of a thing called unintended consequences. We’re seeing it now with the flood of Honduran and Salvadoran refugee kids trying to escape from the hell our government left behind by pursuing its selfish, geopolitical aims.

Now Putin has to deal with the horrific embarassment of having enabled his version of the Tea Party border patrol with anti-aircraft missiles without encouraging them to learn the difference between a military and a civilian aircraft.

Our ‘security’ establishment is equally eager to arm local agents and set them off to move our chess pieces around the world map based on our supposed interests of the moment. Syrian rebels, anti-Khaddafy Libyans, anti-communist Afghan islamists, coke-dealing contras, you name it—everyone one looks, there are heavily armed agents of ours, theirs, or both at once. But hey, turns out it’s a lot easier to set them loose than to rein them in.

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