MH17: Dutch Mercantilism and ostrich policy

01-08-2014 12:25


They´re not with us anymore, the people who got into “the” airplane on the 17th of July. A cup of coffee in the waiting area and a hug for those who´d stay at home… “I´ll send you a message when I´m there!” Full of excitement they´re looking forward to their first time backpacking in Asia, visiting family far away or an important conference about AIDS. The stewards and the pilot greet them before they bow their heads and try to squeeze their bags through the narrow oval door. Once they´ve found their chair, they cram their bag underneath it, hoping that the staff won´t tell them to store it above their heads. And then they check the flight route on the screen before they send a last message: “Finally on board & ready for take-off! Hope food´s better than the movie collection :P. Speak soon!“

But they won´t speak soon. Flight MH17 doesn´t make it any further than Ukraine and nobody survives. Bodies and body parts, travel guides, iPods and wreckages are lying in the summer heat spread over an area of no less than twenty five kilometer square. None of them were to blame: they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Innocent victims of a battle that wasn´t theirs.

Horrible, of course, and all thoughts go out to the victims and their families and friends, the ones that waved from the other side of the border control; to the ones who´re left behind with a coffee and a hug at the airport as the last memory of their beloved ones. Children´s lives as well as the hopes and dreams of many families, youngsters and researchers crashed and burned with the plane. A terrible accident, and every life lost is a tragedy.



But when I see all those emotional endorsements, tantrums and “flabbergasted!”-messages on the internet, I feel a bit uncomfortable. One hundred and ninety six Dutch people died after their plane was hit by a missile. Oh yes, and about one hundred and ten people of other countries, too. “A crime against humanity”: our whole country is in shock and cries for “our” innocent dead, Rutte calls Putin to share his worries and anger, and Europe threats Russia with economic sanctions. Also, newspaper articles appear about the Dutch tax reduction that the missile supplier receives, who ironically happens to have his main office in Amsterdam. Indignantly it´s announced that this company sells other guns, missiles and garnets too, that are used against our own boys and girls in other parts of the world. Naaah! And we assumed that only very non-Dutch groups, far away from our beds and our children would be killed or would kill each other with our tax reduction!

I mean, we the Dutch have always been known for our trade and mercantilism. In the end, we can´t solve the world problems on our own… so why not share in the profits? It´s a great deal: we sell the souls of potentially hundreds of thousands of people that we´ve got nothing to do with because they´re not “ours”, and we trade them for the Holy Increase of materialistic welfare and economical gain in our own country. No problem. No responsibility. No newspaper articles or facebook posts.

But now everything has changed drastically: the contract has been violated. The deal was that “they” would be the victims, not “we”. So here we are, sharing en masse how sad and angry and powerless we feel because of the lost lives of those who were born between our borders, just like us. Oh yeah, and also about the lives of the others, too.




Of course it´s horrible that some idiot accidentally shot down an airplane with a missile that was sponsored by our own government. But I´ve only seen a few posts about the two idiots who were fully aware of what they were doing when they decided to burn a Palestinian 17 year old boy alive (after they made him drink gasoline so he´d burn both inside and outside (?!)), as a revenge on those other idiots who knew exactly what they were doing when they shot three Israeli boys. Those children were killed, only because they were born left or right from a line drawn by mankind. Personally, I think that “crime against humanity” is much more appropriate there than in the case of accidentally shooting down an airplane with mainly Dutch people in it. The killers thought that the value of the lives taken and destroyed depended on nationality only. Ugly, huh? Well, it seems to be exactly the same for us.

But did Rutte call Netanyahu too? After the Israeli army warily killed four hundred Palestine citizens (that is twice as many as Dutch killed in the crash) in the first two weeks of their “defense operation”, was he so terribly shocked and angry that he obliged the Dutch companies and pension funds sponsoring the Israeli war banks to take action? No, because as long as the public indignation isn´t bigger than our greed, we can keep on making money. Dutch trade qualities.

Did he put the flag half-mast for the thousands of Syrian people who were breathing in the streets and squares where their own government sprayed poison gas? No. And neither did “we”, because those were “their” lives, and not ours. We´re not going to post facebook comments on it either.

Of course the people in the plane couldn´t help it, but you could say that the Dutch and European governments are not the innocent powerless victims that they claim to be with their behavior. We´ve become so afraid of everything and everyone who´s not like “us”, especially for Russia (Communists! Aaargh!), Muslims (Extremists! Aaargh!) and other cultures (Diversity! Aaargh!) in general, that we happily recognize and support any group of screwballs who conquer a pro-Russian or Islamic government with or without violence. Long live democracy. And freedom, too. As long as the rebels are like “us” and not “theirs”, it doesn´t matter that we unconditionally support an illegal violent putsch of a group of right wing extremist nationalists.

Or, well… it doesn´t matter until the pro-Russian legal rulers accidentally shoot “our” airplane. Then we say that Putin is responsible for what´s happening and that he should take care of it. Hands off the Ukrainian problems: not our call, not our responsibility. Funny how the world sometimes turns around 180 degrees in one moment.



Suddenly we also feel the urge to share what a solidary country we are, because so many people stood along the way when the dead bodies arrived. I don´t think that´s solidarity. I think that´s nationalism with a dash of drama. Solidarity is not a single spectacular media-sensitive action that originates from collective anger and sadness about something that harmed “us”. Solidarity is an everyday compassion with fellow man, not exclusively fellow nationals, because their wellbeing truly matters to us.

It would include the homeless man begging in front of the supermarket, the families of the soldiers who were sent away to fight someone else’s battle and maybe never returned alive and the elderly who´re stuck in a home with one shower a week and a set bed time, because someone made a wrong investment with their money. Solidarity would include the mothers of the hundreds of girls who disappeared in Nigeria, the immigrants that are locked up in inhuman conditions in our own country, including the ones who burned to death because there were no adequate safety protocols… and the FIFA law overruling human rights in South Africa and Brazil while the whole world is watching with national flags wrapped around their shoulders.

I´ve seen very few facebook walls and viaducts filling up with solidarity in those cases. And how many specialized investigators did we send in a hurry to find out what happened then? How many solidarity songs were written and shared a hundred thousand times to show how touched we all were? Right.

That is how solidary we are. With “them”. Maybe this is the time to go back to our typically Dutch sobriety too…  


“Develop your senses. Especially, learn how to see

Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

 - Leonardo da Vinci - 


Greets from Nelly, from Project Imagine all the people.

Indeed, all the people.