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Ukraine: MH17 tragedy shows need for peace, not warmongering

There needs to be a ceasefire and negotiated solution to the conflict.

Read more on the situation in Ukraine HERE.

Green Left Weekly editorial

July 19, 2014 -- The apparent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 is an unspeakable tragedy and a criminal act that has sent shock waves around the world. Green Left Weekly offers our condolences to the families of all its victims.

Nobody yet knows who was responsible for this crime, despite Western media and governments pointing the finger at either the rebel forces in Ukraine's east, which the West accuses Russia of arming, or the Russian military itself.

Amid claims and counter claims by all sides, each force denies responsibility and there is no obvious motive for any force to deliberately carry out such an atrocity.

The United Nations Security Council has called for “a full, thorough and independent international investigation”. But, whether this has any hope of leading to clarity on the incident remains to be seen.

Yet many Western governments, with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott joining in, are exploiting this tragedy and using it to escalate rhetoric and tensions with Russia, raising the prospect of the war expanding.

The West's hypocrisy stinks. On the same day Abbott used the MH17 deaths as an excuse to raise tensions with Russia, he justified Israel's bloody carnage in Gaza as legitimate “self-defence”. As of July 19, the Palestinian death toll was more than 290, including dozens of children. The life of a Gazan is not worth less than the life of any passenger on flight MH17.

Those who offer support for Israel’s murderous rampage, and in doing so become complicit it in, have no moral grounds on which to threaten or condemn anyone.

The hypocrisy of the United States government is especially galling. Not only is Israel carrying out its bloodshed with US complicity and with US military aid, but the US military has resumed drone strikes in Pakistan with deadly consequences.

The US also has its own history of shooting down passenger planes. The US air force infamously shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in Iranian airspace in 1988. All 290 civilians on board were killed, including 66 children.

Despite reaching an agreement to pay compensation to families of the victims, the US has never officially accepted responsibility or apologised.

There needs to be a de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, not a ratcheting up. For this to happen, it is crucial for outside powers to stop interfering and using the conflict for their own geo-political interests.

There needs to be a negotiated solution to the conflict that can allow a truce and for the issues driving the conflict, including the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine's east and their expressed desire for greater autonomy or separation from the Ukraine, to be negotiated and resolved.

This is a matter for those directly involved. For others to use the conflict to whip up Cold War-era tensions and rhetoric is unacceptable and can only lead to far greater bloodshed than has already been seen.

At its June 7-9 national conference in Sydney, the Socialist Alliance, a party that is an important supporter of Green Left Weekly, adopted a resolution on international political perspectives. On Ukraine, it said: “We oppose — and seek to expose — any imperialist intervention and manipulation of [conflicts such as Ukraine's] … We also condemn the persistent, heavily-funded intervention by the US and EU in the political life of Ukraine.

“This intervention aims to expand NATO into Ukraine, multiplying tensions with Russia, and to turn Ukraine into an economic dependency of the EU. The planned association agreement between Ukraine and the EU, together with the accompanying IMF-dictated austerity program, can be expected to destroy large sections of Ukrainian industry and further impoverish the country's working population.

“We stand in solidarity with the popular struggle against austerity and ethno-linguistic oppression that is now unfolding in Ukraine, especially in the country's south-eastern provinces.”

These points remain relevant, but in light of the MH17 tragedy and the tensions being whipped up around it, we must emphasise: there must be no escalation or exploitation of this tragedy to push conflict and there needs to be solutions for the grievances driving the conflict.

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Comments

Strong Anti-Imperialist Statement

Tony Abbott, Australian PM, was quoted in today's media as saying:

"Let me conclude with this, the bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world."

This is a wonderful anti-imperialist statement and I've never seen a better one from an Austrlian Prime Minister. The problem, of course, is that he said it in the context of criticising the Russian Government. While Vladimir Putin's role in the Ukrainian conflict has been far from honourable, the statement applies far more to the United States than to any other country on Earth.

No Justice, No Peace

Those who call for peace, without at the same time calling for the eradication of the root causes of this civil war, play into the hands of the puppet regime of the oligarchs and US-EU imperialism, the aggressors in this war against the working class of Ukraine.

The following peace program, based on the Minsk and Yalta conferences of the Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian Left organisations, can serve as the basis for creating the conditions where the class war against the oligarchs and their imperialist allies, in both the US-EU and Russia, can bring the social dimensions of the struggle to the forefront.

1. An immediate ceasefire. An end to the repression of the Left.

2. Withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from the Donbass, and the creation of workers' militias to guarantee the peace.

3. Expulsion of non-citizen combatants from the country.

4. Disbanding of the so-called National Guard and the private militias of the oligarchs. Confiscation of the property of the oligarchs who fail to comply.

5. Immediate and direct elections, overseen by the workers' organisations,to the regional councils and governorships. Dismiss the government of the oligarchs. No treaty with the EU.

6. The convening of a constituent process within the framework of creating a federal, multi-national country guaranteeing the linguistic, cultural and human rights of all citizens; and a neutral, non-aligned state.

This civil war is a class war, with the Russian speaking working class, the great majority of whom are located in the Donbass, instinctively protecting themselves against the attacks of the program of the oligarchs and IMF. Already, in the past 6 months, the currency has been devalued by half, doubling the costs of imports; the price of fuel is sky-rocketing; 43 mines have been announced as being privatised; pensions have been slashed and more social benefits are on the chopping block.

Unfortunately, a portion of the European Left, based primarily in the state-capitalist tradition, have confused the mass resistance to the program of the oligarchs and western imperialism, with its mostly self-appointed Russian nationalist leaderships. As most empiricists do, they fail to see beneath the cloak of the nationalism of the oppressed to the body of social indignation which is starting to flex its muscles beneath.

This Left is one whose analysis consists of a bourgeois geo-political understanding, as opposed to an historical materialist analysis, of the class and social forces driving events.

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