Streetwise Professor

July 17, 2014

The KAL Moment of the New Cold War

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia,Snowden — The Professor @ 5:50 pm

I had been planning to write on the latest round of sanctions, but of course that story has been overtaken by an utterly horrific event: the shooting down, by a surface-to-air missile, of a Malaysian Air 777 flying over Donetsk.

This is an unspeakable crime. Unspeakable.

I can state with near metaphysical certainty that this was the work of Russian-supported and inspired rebels from the Donetsk People’s Republic, or perhaps even the Russian military itself. The jet was downed in the same area where two Ukrainian military planes were destroyed by SAM fire in the last couple of days. The ex-FSB (or maybe not ex-) creature Girkin (aka “Strelkov”-the recent event gives new meaning to the word “shooter”) bragged on V Kontakte about shooting down a Ukrainian transport plane today . . . and then scrubbed the site once it was revealed that a civilian airliner had been destroyed. The rebels had bragged about, and Russian state media had bragged about, the rebels possession of an SA-17 Buk SAM system-which they now deny. Ukraine released transcripts of communications between rebels, and between rebels and one of their freakazoid Cossack contacts in Russia, blaming the shootdown on Cossacks rebels stationed near the border.

I could go on, but it’s not necessary.

I would hope that this is the KAL 007 moment of the New Cold War. The KAL 007 moment of Putinism. For those old enough to remember-and my memories are extremely vivid-in the aftermath of the KAL atrocity the Soviets denied, denied, denied. Then Jeanne Kirkpatrick made a presentation at the UN Security Council that played intercepted communications between the Soviet pilots that shot down the plane and Soviet air defense commanders that made it clear beyond all possible doubt that the Soviets had shot down the plane.

We certainly have the national technical means to determine who launched the weapon, and from where. We have the means to intercept communications. Satellites will have recorded exactly where the weapon was launched. Depending on the sensors we have deployed, or the Ukrainians may have deployed, we can monitor and record the radar transmissions of any air defense systems in the area. The radar signature of different systems is unique, so this would permit definitive identification of missile type as well as location.

Let’s put that all out there in the UNSC, and watch the loathsome Vitaly Churkin squirm.

But that should only be the beginning. The crucial task is to lay out information connecting the rebels to the Russian government, military, and intelligence services. Again, we no doubt have such information, even if (as is likely) that Snowden information revealed weaknesses in Russian communications security that they have closed. But I doubt that things have gone totally dark for us. What’s more, we have the means, motive, and opportunity to track movements of equipment from Russia to the Donbas.

This is the time where the NSA, CIA, DIA, and National Reconnaissance Organization demonstrate their true functions and capabilities. It’s not about snooping on Fritz’s Amazon’s purchases: it’s about uncovering Ivan’s evil acts.

Moreover, just consider the fact that the Russians would not be  so nuts as to allow a SAM battery (or even a single launcher) operate right on the border, in an area where Russian military and civilian aircraft are operating and within range, without coordinating with Russian air defense system controllers and Russian air traffic control. Hell, given what control freaks the Russians are, it’s highly likely that the Russians have to give permission for that battery to fire.

We have to lay all this out there. Put Putin on the spot. Show the world just what he has done, and what he is doing, in Ukraine. Of course, anyone who is willing to look at the facts objectively already knows, but that category excludes vast swathes of Europeans and many Americans. Maybe 295 dead, innocent Dutch, French Germans, Brits, etc., including 80 children, will be enough to get them to face reality. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Make them see, and shame them mercilessly if they still resist.

Merkel is now on the spot. France too: if it goes ahead with the Mistral sale after this, we should sink the damn things. And then text Hollande pictures of the dead babies strapped in their seats, lying bloodied in the Ukrainian dirt.

The KAL shootdown was a turning point in the Cold War. It revealed the Soviet leadership to be both evil and drastically out of touch. Their handling of the affair was utterly embarrassing. Indeed, it helped usher in the rise of Gorbachev, and had a dramatic effect on European public opinion: after having resisted, Germany approved deployment of Pershing II missiles post-KAL 007, in large part because of what it revealed about the true nature of Soviet leadership. (Think on that one, Angela. Think hard.)

We should hope that out of this horror something positive like that occurs now. Putin is doing his part, blaming the shootdown on Ukraine for failing to capitulate to the Russian proxy invasion. Russian state media has gone one better, claiming that the Ukrainians shot down the plane while they were targeting Putin’s.

In other words, this event has the potential to be like Napoleon’s assassination of the Duc d’Enghien: as Talleyrand said, “it was worse than a crime. It was a blunder.”

295 innocent people should not have died: or, to be more accurate, 295 innocent people should not have been murdered. But if their deaths hasten the demise of the criminal Putin regime, at least they will not have died in vain. It is the duty-if they understand the meaning of the word-of people like Obama and Merkel to make sure that the innocents’ sacrifice was not in vain.

Are they-are we-“highly resolved that the dead shall not have died in vain”?

I wish I were more sanguine about the answer to that question.

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  1. Also, the Malaysians have increased the number of KIA to 298. The whole “manifest” thing seems to be hard for Malaysia.

    The good news is the Germans might be up for some tough sanctions, now.

    Comment by Blackshoe — July 17, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

  2. Возмутительно, что Путин сказал это дело Украины и ЕС, что они поддержали конфликт .. Существует только одна страна, которая масла в огонь бросает, что Россия и Путин! В Украине .. На прошлой неделе у них есть три плоскости Украина (военные) сбит с помощью г-на Путина и России. И тяжелые танки и другая военная передач через границу направил Для поддержки., Так называемого разделения Путин проводит политику, чтобы выключить. Все противники Мы должны установить предел, я имею в виду, как будто прошлом Россия полностью исключает! Нет нефти ни газа нет торговли! Я уже устал, чтобы Россия она совести Лоос оставили преследовать геев нацистами и другую сторону смотрел. Даже если ремень ЕС ужесточения и показывает свои зубы, то, может быть, мы можем даже смотреть на Россию еще раз направо в будущем в глазах. Вся боль не зажила за разом, как бы ни странно это. Я надеюсь, что я открыто рука об руку со мной другу (кто не сделал) мог перебежать Кремлевской площади, без меня нападают, сложных случаях и россияне будут приглашать меня на хороший барбекю! Когда гей

    Мы требуем черные ящики обратно!

    Comment by Potin Fck — July 17, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

  3. @Blackshoe. I know you are right re Malaysians and manifests. I hope you are right re Germans. However, do not underestimate the determination of the “Putin understanders” to “understand” everything. The aphorism is French, but the Germans seem to have adopted it as a motto: to understand all is to forgive all. So I remain skeptical, but hopeful.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 17, 2014 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Ukrainians are shelling Russian villages and killing Russian civilians across the border. So “Putin controls everything” is hard to believe.

    Comment by So? — July 17, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

  5. they are too busy trying to snoop on the tea party and hiding their IRS crap.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter (@pointsnfigures) — July 17, 2014 @ 9:13 pm

  6. Europe had a choice between war and dishonor; they chose dishonor and now they have war.

    Comment by aaa — July 17, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

  7. @aaa-Churchill would agree.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 17, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

  8. Professor,

    Were you equally outraged by that Iranian Airbus shoot down? You know, it was also a warzone, and the USN had the benefit of IFF.

    Comment by So? — July 17, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

  9. With more and more Crimea-style “green men” Russian regulars on the ground the distinction between DNR and Russia becomes almost meaningless. With shellling and airstrikes from Russian territory documented, Ukrainian government admits it ain’t no ATO, but war against Russia.Time for the world to admit it as well

    Comment by Ivan — July 17, 2014 @ 11:27 pm

  10. I almost wonder if Snowden was the last straw that enabled this war by making the Russians think they can neutralize US reconnaissance capability sufficiently to get away with such things…

    Comment by Ivan — July 18, 2014 @ 12:40 am

  11. KAL was shot down over Sakhalin, coming down near the small island of Moneron. I went to the airfield from which the fighter was scrambled, it is a few miles north of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. One of the most sickening things about that incident is the degree to which westerners subscribe to the conspiracy theory peddled by the Russians that the aircraft was actually spying.

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 18, 2014 @ 5:38 am

  12. Ask and ye shall receive: US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers revealed the US knows the missile was fired from reb controlled Eastern Ukraine. A spy satellite caught the missile plume and traced back the launch to a few km inside the Ukr-Rus border. Two military planes were shot down in the same area over the past week, so not surprising a sat was tasked. And if SAM radar won’t zoom cameras, what will? Simple facts.

    Inferring a bit, this launcher is most likely Russian. The rebs have some Buk systems at Donetsk, but why would they move them? Surely they need them more for defense in the face of an inevitable Ukrainian attack. This one could easily scoot home (probably already has and crew dispersed). Putin has bloody hands.

    Comment by Robert in Houston — July 18, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

  13. oh, come on KAL007 had nothing to do with Gorbachev rise to power.
    The problem with sanctions is that its good weapon against terrosrist/communist or similar states, but with Russia case sanctions would be aimed at a person, Putin. I think this conflict migth be resolved if several head of states meet eye to eye and talk frankly, migth sound silly but that worked several times with Putin.

    Comment by erik — July 19, 2014 @ 11:40 am

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    Pingback by Rusia aproape de o interventie militara in Ucraina. - Pagina 9 — August 18, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

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