Her interlocutor took her simpleminded interrogation and threw it back at her, wrapped in so many good intentions it took her a while to figure out what was in it.
"We in the international community need to focus attention on these things. We need to develop a dialogue. We need to build faith in our institutions. Blah. Blah .. generate a consensus...work with aid agencies and NGOs...focus on civil society...blah...blah...
"Putin can't be allowed to get away with this!"
So universal is the opposition to the Russian head man...so fiercely is he set upon by the world improvers ...and so many fingers point in his direction, we feel a compulsion to come to his aid. We are for the underdog...the lost cause and the die hard, whether he's guilty or not.
Passing over the obvious objection - that is none of our business - we take up a defense of Russia, and of Vladimir Putin. We do so not in pursuit of justice (we've given up on that) but on the trail of mischief and provocation.
In the first place, Russia has a long history of misery - most of it self-inflicted. One of the episodes, not entirely self-inflicted (though greatly self-aggravated), was in WWII. The country lost 25 million people in a ghastly war. It only survived at all because it was able to pull back across the steppes...wearing out its enemy in mud, cold, and extended lines of communications. Distance...space...and time are Mother Russia's historic allies. So, it is perfectly understandable for Vladimir Putin to want to save at least the Eastern Ukraine, as a buffer against the next invasion from the West.
Meanwhile, despite the assurances given by George Bush I and other American presidents and secretaries of state, Russia's periphery states have been drawn towards NATO...Europe...and its potential enemies
According to press reports, the US meddled in the Ukraine, helping to unseat its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, so that he might be replaced by someone more agreeable. Why shouldn't Putin meddle back?
In the second place, what is a commercial aircraft doing over an active war zone? Shooting it down was probably an accident. But it is the kind of accident that you'd expect: a bunch of trigger happy, often drunken, soldiers are on the ground. One of them is bound to push the button sooner or later. None of the people on the ground had an interest in shooting down the airliner...except those who wanted to pin it on Putin. But who knows? Everybody makes mistakes. And if it turns out that it really was Russian separatists...it is extremely unlikely that they were operating under orders from Moscow.
Finally, compared to the reckless and murderous way the US and its allies throw their weight around, Russia has been remarkably restrained and civilized.
Give the guy a break. Whether in jailing people...or killing them...Mr. Putin is not the worst.
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.