Rather more than the rest of the world is doing right now.
Let’s be straight, the hijacking of a civilian aircraft and forcing it to land where it did not want to go is an act of, plain and simple, terrorism. It just so happens that the death penalty still applies in this god-forsaken country, (and systematic torture of political prisoners for that matter), and terrorism is one of the crimes that is deemed a capital offence.
At the very least, that toss-pot of a leader Alexander Lukashenko should be tried, and then shot when found guilty. Actually, shooting is far too pleasant an end for this dictator, so I suggest we hang, draw, and quarter, just for starters.
This country has seen the most far-reaching crackdowns on any protests against the fraudulent elections of last year, far surpassing anything else during its relatively short history. And of course, anything Belarus gets away with is supported by Putin, whose country operates in exactly the same way.
What’s baffling to me is the surprise that the EU, its allies and indeed the rest of the world have shown to the hijacking. It’s just par for the course in Belarus. Nothing special, in the greater scheme of things. Nullify the perceived threat, lie your back teeth off while explaining your actions, (a bomb on board my arse), knowing that the equally evil Putin regime will back you to the hilt.
All flying into Belarus should be banned, and no airport should be allowed to receive any flights from there. Yes, of course it’s the people who will suffer, it’s always the little people who suffer from the abysmal behaviour of their governments. It would be acceptable if just for once, any nation with a semblance of decency could try and wipe out the leaders of those countries that lie and cheat their way to supremacy and authoritarianism. (Bye Bye Boris….)
In the meantime, the spineless and wretchedly corrupt EU just stares with incredulity over its shoulder but says little other than: “Oh, that’s rather naughty isn’t it?”
I give up.
What should we do about Belarus?
Well, let’s go back to the year 2000, when Putin was elected for the first time. Those days there was a fashion to wonder: Who is Mr. Putin? Maybe a reformist? Or a simply a KGB guy?
He turned out to be a good ol’ Russian imperialist sincerely (but mistakenly) thinking that the only way for Russia to exist is to be an empire. In this case, to unite the Ukraine and Belarus as core countries together with Russia itself under the rule of Moscow.
He actually failed in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimea. Though there was lots of jingoism back in the day, Putin couldn’t get what he wanted: to establish the so-called Novorossiya. He even announced plans for it in his famous speech in April 2014, using this term. As well as the other one, ‘the divided nation’: yes, hello Adolph Hitler and the 1939 situation when Poland was destroyed. The to-be-formed Novorossiya had to include six regions of the Ukraine, encircling the Black sea and landlocking the rest of this country. But he failed: only chunks of two of those regions fell down to Russian influence. This is how the Donbass enclave has been formed. But the rest stayed with the Ukraine though Putin has been pressing hard in his hybrid war.
He grabbed the Crimea but lost the Ukraine. This was a hard fiasco effectively putting an end to his wet imperial dreams. But Vlad is an optimist and still believes he’s got a chance to reverse the situation. I personally think he didn’t have enough balls for a full-scale invasion back in 2014. Probably the West didn’t let him do it. Probably he made some sober analysis and found out that the people of the Ukraine wouldn’t surrender even under occupation. Now it is too late: the Ukraine is no more a failed state with no army and Putin’s spies in its leadership.
The guy stubbornly continues to call the Russians and the Ukrainians one nation. This is nuts and denial of historic knowledge but Vlad’s got his own history books. In these books, Belarus is also the very same single nation.
This is how we get to it. Lukashenko is truly a strongman and his grip over his country has been hard for 25 years. However, now, after he lost the election and then stole it, he is weak and, with all blood on his hands, he can’t play anymore the Western and the Russian cards at the same time.
This is Vlad’s huge geopolitical success: he eventually overplayed Lukashenko. He is just one step away from de facto annexing Belarus. Probably in some soft way, with no formal annexation. But this would be just a question of terms.
This is how things are now. Sure, probably most of the Belarusians don’t want to join Russia but they lost their chance to topple Lukashenko. Their peaceful protest was very fancy from the media point of view but a complete failure in terms of taking the Luka out of his office as a dictator.
The days of Belarus as an independent state are numbered and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Stupid Game – but we must play
What a very American question:
What are we going to do about
- Belarus & Human Rights
- The North Korean Nuclear Program
- China Stealing Territory
- Putin’s Election Meddling
To be completely honest, yes, we could do something, and it’s called war. But I doubt Ukraine would be all that grateful to get a pile of glowing embers back that used to be called Crimea. Not to mention the nuclear winter.
Or any of a dozen other things completely beyond “our” control. The fact is we cannot do anything. If North Korea is hell bent building a nuclear warhead, guess what? They will build one. In fact they did, then another, and another. They will build them until they get tired of that and decide to try some new form of being asses.
So dictators around the world weigh the odds that the West really would do something against the reward. NATO will go to war because a Ryanair flight was diverted for a couple of hours? Not a chance. Nobody takes a vacation in Minsk anyway so cutting a few flights is no big deal. So small risk with medium reward: take it.
The only person who has influence over Mr. Lukashenko lives in Russia and he is the big winner when Europe drives Belarus further into its alliance with Moscow. Again, low risk but this time big reward: take it.
If I’m missing something here feel free to enlighten me in the comments below. To be clear, I believe there is a moral requirement to take action on all these issues. I abhor Trumpism and transactional moray. We should have a belief system and we must impose penalties when others steal and cheat. There must be a moral compass to guide the West during these dark times.
That includes my country: The US should never have used torture against suspected militants. It wasn’t necessary in World War II and has been proven to be ineffective unless you want lies. But one of the political parties in America thinks it’s great. Small risk and unknown reward: take it.
So, what to do about Alexander Lukashenko and hijacking a flight? Exactly what the West is doing, lots of talk, cancel a few flights and some meaningless economic embargoes. The truth is these guys only respect a wooden bat to the head and we are not going to do that, so we will talk and talk and Lukashenko will pretend that he is hurt or offended. Stupid game – but we must play.