The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by what looks to have been a missile fired from a Russian Buk mobile anti-aircraft battery has led some among the punditerati to remarkably hyperbolic conclusions. This is somehow the act that shows Britain is no longer a world power, as if it was right up until someone loosed off that missile before figuring out what he was firing at.
On the other hand, Vladimir Putin is held to be the one with real power, and the West is painted as disinterested, which is a strange line for a press that pretends to be free and fearless to take. Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, wails “As Flight MH17 is shot down over our continent, almost certainly with weaponry supplied by the Kremlin, where are the statesmen of stature?”
That the “statesmen of stature” are not going to order up a nuclear strike on Moscow does not enter. Instead, the Mail blames, well, Brussels. “Don’t look ... to the EU, where the know-nothing former local council officer Lady Ashton, ludicrously in charge of foreign affairs, has poked the Russian bear with a puny stick by attempting to lure Ukraine into the Brussels fold”.
Cathy Ashton has achieved more through quiet persuasion than Dacre has by his repeated bludgeoning of anyone of dissenting view (see my take on that HERE). But we in the West are painted as powerless, and this, according to Max “Hitler” Hastings, is because Putin is a liar. Cathy Ashton is derided as “ridiculous”. European leaders are mere “marshmallows”.
Over at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, there is a yet more screaming click-bait take by the increasingly deluded Dan Hodges: the shooting down of an airliner that was not owned by a British carrier, was not built in Britain, and was not flying to, from, via or over Britain, signalled the end of British “soft power”. Perhaps “soft power” prevents aircraft around the world from crashing.
Why oh why oh why are we not doing something – in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Ukraine? The urge to scratch the interventionist itch, so catastrophically indulged by Hodges’ hero Tone, keeps returning. We should spray money we supposedly don’t have up the wall to show these Russian, Middle Eastern and African Johnnies that we know what’s good for them.
If we take the line being pushed by Hodges, Hastings and Dacre – that we’re powerless because we’re not intervening, but relying instead on the “soft power” of trade and aid, then where does this leave China, which is less inclined to military excursions, rather than, er, trade and aid? Does that render China powerless? Was the West powerless because it didn’t go to war with the USSR over KAL007?
Belligerence does not equal strength. But that’s too hard for pundits to understand.