WASHINGTON – “We have concluded that Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable for this tragedy”. This is how White House press secretary Josh Earnest described Putin’s role in the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that was flying over Eastern Ukraine.
Putin is culpable
Well, this is pretty strong language.
The White House spokesman did not just say that “Russia”, or “the Russian Government” are culpable. He did say “Vladimir Putin” is culpable. In other words, Putin is deemed to be personally responsible for the death of almost 300 passengers and crew who were on that plane.
It does not matter who pulled the trigger
And there is more. Earnest added that: “Whether it is the Russians themselves who pulled the trigger or Russian separatists trained by Russians, it’s all the same; it all goes back, ultimately, to Vladimir Putin”.
So, there you have it. No more hesitation. No more waiting for conclusive evidence (witnesses, documents, recorded phone conversations) that would stand in an American or international court of justice. Here is the story. Putin is in charge. This is his war. Therefore he is culpable for what happened. Period.
Pentagon describing Russian supplies to the rebels
And now look at this unusually strong language, (remember, this is coming from the White House), in conjunction with other allegations coming from Colonel Warren, a Pentagon spokesman: “We know that they [The Russians] have transferred [to Ukraine] tanks, artillery, multiple lunch rocket systems. We have indications that the Russians intend to supply heavier and more sophisticated multiple launch rocket systems in the near future…We believe that they are able to transfer this equipment at any time, at any moment”.
So, the US Government, after having already told us that the Russians are firing with their own artillery across the border into Ukraine –an act of war, according to any definition– now say plainly that Russia is giving the separatists heavy equipment, while Russia’s president is personally responsible for the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft.
I applaud this clarity. I really do. Finally the Obama administration is talking straight.
And, in response, America will…
However, what I do not see is the obvious conclusion. Something like: “Given all this, given this irresponsible behavior on the part of the Russian Federation, the United States Government will do…this, and this…and that….”
May be there is a major surprise in store. May be Obama is cooking up something really big. I hope so.
But “taking action” would be entirely out of character. And, please, do remember that we are going to have national elections in America at the beginning of November –and that is practically tomorrow.
The notion that America will choose this politically sensitive moment to engage in a major international confrontation with Russia on Ukraine –an issue that most Americans do not even begin to understand, let alone feel strongly about it– looks preposterous.
More empty threats?
But then, if real action is not coming soon, what is the point of using such strong language to describe Russia’s role in this Ukraine mess?
Unless America is prepared to take serious countermeasures against Russia –countermeasures that really, really hurt– all this name calling reminds me of many empty threats issued in the past. (Remember “Assad has to go?”).
I hope to be wrong; but I just do not see any effort to prepare the Nation for a major confrontation.
Well, if it is indeed so, if in the end there is no will to seriously engage, then it would be more prudent to be quiet.