The Crash of MH17 – What Century is This?

Well, what an awful week and this time the
offender is not America and the tragedies are not trivial, but on a much
grander scale – the scale of war. These events seem to highlight even more that
nations are not all living in the same century.

Russia and Ukraine are trying to fight a
19th century war in the 21st century. So we have on one
side this Russia with imperialistic motives; motives that most of us think of
as antique. Russia, as I understand it, needs a piece of Eastern Ukraine – an easement,
so to speak, so it can ship oil to Crimea for a direct route to Europe. Ukraine
became independent of Russia only recently when the Iron Curtain fell. Ukraine
doesn’t want to allow Russia to take over that portion of their nation. They
want to maintain their current borders. So Russia and Ukraine go to war. But
this is not the mid twentieth century when the last war was fought. The world
has moved on. We don’t want more wars starring any of the same participants as
the two previous European wars. Please.

So we have life as usual going on, or
attempting to, in a plane flying over that exact contested ground in Ukraine.
We have people high above Ukraine flying from a Dutch airport to a Southeast
Asian airport. They are flying for business reasons; they are going on
vacation, they have been away and are going home; they are a group of AIDS
researchers going to a conference in Australia. They are unsuspecting of the
activities below them on the ground. They don’t realize that other airlines are
avoiding this route, choosing to go around this battle. One minute they are
here, in life, with us, and the next minute they are falling to earth, fragile
and ruined, and they hopefully have no idea that they are no longer here, in
life, with us. And we are left, for the rest of our lives, with the memory of
this, another violent and totally unnecessary plane crash with no survivors.
We are all thinking that it was a mistake;
whoever did it. We want someone to admit his error and give a sincere apology
to the families of those killed. But since we have a leader involved who is
still stuck in the politics of the Cold War that can’t happen. We are all very
nervous about how we should behave. What does the 21st century do
when confronted with a devious and insecure mid 20th century man (a
man I thought to be much more modern than he is proving to be)? Well we don’t want to go
to war so let’s grieve and wait in the hopes that an apology is still possible.
Let’s entertain the wish that Ukraine would just offer Russia one of those 99
year leases which worked so well for China. Then Russia could transport its oil
and Ukraine would gain some income and Europe could use a century-old solution
to return to the business of the 21st century for good.
This week included another war – I said it
was an awful week – between Israel and Palestine with stories of children dying
(this is becoming a tough, tough world for children). I don’t even know what to
say about these two nationalities locked in such a sad dance of vengeance and
self-defense without an end to it in sight. Is there a 21st century
solution to this? We all want peace, but we are not going to get it, are we? I
don’t believe we are capable of a sustained peace, but I long for it.
Diplomacy, not war is the 21st century way. Please.

By Nancy Brisson