Flight MH17, Ukraine and the new Cold War

Prism of disaster

Kees van der Pijl
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This book analyses the MH17 catastrophe as a prism that refracts the broader historical context in which it occurred, arraying its distinct strands and their interrelations in a rare moment of clarity. It argues that in the new Cold War with Putin's Russia, the West operates from a perspective inspired by the mentality of extreme risk-taking that stems from the dominant role of finance in contemporary capitalism. The book also argues that the dividing lines established by the enlargement of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1922 and the addition of Crimea to it in 1954, remained operational after independence. The armed seizure of power on 22 February 2014 occurred on the back of the demonstrations and put state power in the hands of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and actual fascists. Based on the unpublished government and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) documents, the book offers an analysis of global political economy and contemporary debates about Russia and East-West relations. It reviews the results of the official investigations into the MH17 disaster, which Ukraine delegated to the Netherlands. Both were profoundly compromised by granting the coup government in Kiev a veto over any outcomes, a novelty in the history of aviation disaster investigation that was considered shameful even in Ukraine. The book investigates how the coup regime, encouraged by its backers in Washington and Brussels, responded to the anti-Maidan movement among Russian-Ukrainians with extreme violence.

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‘Providing an essential counterpoint to the dominant post-Soviet narrative – that neoliberal capitalism brings democracy and prosperity – Kees van der Pijl blasts his way through decades of western myth-making to expose the brutal reality: that America's drive for global domination continues. And as the US falters economically it uses its raw military power to enforce an unchallenged unipolar world – its goal is neoliberal global governance backed by full spectrum military dominance and US nuclear primacy. But powerful political and economic forces are working to resist this never-ending US expansionism. Van der Pijl reveals the latest stages in this global struggle, this new cold war, in a forensic and captivating account, centred on the conflict in Ukraine – a microcosm of the current global crisis.'
Kate Husdon. General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

‘An incontrovertibly important book. Not an investigation into the MH17 catastrophe per se, but rather an explanation for the anti-Russia campaign that unfolded afterwards. Through the prism of the MH17 disaster, van der Pijl discusses the broader historical context that led up to the tragedy, and how it continues to reverberate with us today. He argues that we should not view it as an isolated accident, but “place it in the context of a wider confrontation, the one pitting the liberal West against a loose contender bloc.” . . . van der Pijl's neo-Marxist theoretical perspective, and willingness to use a case study as an illustration of broad global trends, is reminiscent of the classic writings of the late Gabriel Kolko. It is no exaggeration to say that this book is unlike any other currently available on the MH17 tragedy.'
Nicolai N. Petro, Professor of Politics, University of Rhode Island

‘Professor Kees van dér Pijl's MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War will be long regarded as a landmark in both geopolitics and global political economy. He has convincingly demonstrated that we are now in a new Cold War, after the global financial crisis of 2007-08, starting with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2007. Finance capital, which had become the dominant force in the world economy since the late 1990s now sought to enlarge its short-term speculative operations by trying to expropriate the assets of a much curtailed Russia, and Russia became the main contender of the West in this Cold War. Ukraine, in which the West had already managed to install an ultra-nationalist, Neo-Nazi government became the testing ground of this contention. With some help from Russia, the rebels of the minority population of eastern Ukraine successfully carried out a separatist revolt. The downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which had unsuspectingly perhaps intruded into the civil war zone became a casualty of this. Professor Van Der Pijl has also convincingly demonstrated that it is useful to divide the old Cold War into two phases, the first stretching roughly from 1945-6 to the middle of the 1970s and the second starting around 1979, with the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the coming to power of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the USA, unleashing and being backed by increasingly deregulated finance.'
Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata and Adjunct Professor, Monash University

‘The downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 over Ukraine marks a rupture in post-Cold War international politics. In this meticulously detailed study, Kees Van der Pijl deftly and expertly places the tragedy in the larger context of the onset of a new period of East-West confrontation, while at the same time providing an expert analysis of the event itself. The book courageously stands against much conventional thinking, and thus provides a necessary corrective to stereotypes. This is essential reading for analysts and above all policy-makers.'
Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics, University of Kent

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