Russian incompetence is to blame for the downing of Flight MH17by Ben Judah / July 22, 2014 / Leave a comment
Vladimir Putin has been here before. He has been presented with the bad news yet again, that Russian officials are responsible for grotesque loss of life, as a result of their own sheer incompetence. Yet again, Putin now finds himself feeling infuriated, humiliated, betrayed—and of course, blameless.
Russia has not been governed efficiently at any point in its history. The nation today finds itself ruled by a curious monster of Putin’s creation—an all powerful but hideously corrupt bureaucracy, an imperial creature, unanswerable to anybody outside the office of the President, ruling autocratically over the population, but rendered laughably incompetent by its own metastasizing corruption.
Putin’s disasters all come back to this—the inability of the Russian state to deliver reliable government, without accidents, or these horrific screw ups. In 2010 various global governance and corruption indicators showed that Russia was almost as corrupt as Papua New Guinea, with the property rights of Kenya, as easy to do business in as Uganda, and as uncompetitive and monopoly ridden as Sri Lanka. Last year it was ranked the world’s 127th most corrupt nation out of a total of 177.
Putin’s rule has been punctuated by tragedies: from the sinking of the Kursk submarine (2000), to the Nord-Ost theater siege (2002), and the Beslan school massacre (2004), all well known in the West. Then there are those accidents that are painfully remembered in Russia, such as Sayano–Shushenskaya power plant explosion (2009), and the deadly Moscow smog and rampaging forest fires (2010).
In all these cases, the same bureaucratic malpractices killed large numbers of Russians: Putin’s developing dictatorship has eliminated all transparency, and chucked out any checks and balances. At the same time its incredible corruption has frozen the system in a state of untouchable incompetence. Now, they have sent this stealth intervention force in to Ukraine and it has completely screwed up. In the initial aftermath of the crash, Russian State TV was initially boasting that the rebel forces had shot down a Ukrainian military aircraft and then had to quickly alter…