wreckage in field
Wreckage of MH17 in field

Wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes, oh my!

| Since Malaysian Airways flight 17 was shot out of the sky over rebel-controlled Ukraine on Thursday cable television has been in all-crisis all-the-time mode, bordering on obsession.

(I typically view MSNBC, but I have no reason to suspect any of the others are any different in this case.)

To be clear, the downing of the plane is a terrible, senseless tragedy that spells heartbreak for the families of those on board. At the same time, I have grown impatient with much of the coverage.

Investigation. Everyone is clamoring for investigators to examine the crash scene. An investigation is what you have when you don't know the cause of something. In this case the cause is perfectly clear. The plane was shot down by a missile. Nobody has any doubt about that. What is there to investigate at the scene?

Who pulled the trigger is an interesting, perhaps crucial, question, but there will be no evidence of that at the scene. There will not be a piece of wreckage inscribed, "I, Vladimir Putin, was here."

Tom Toles
Tom Toles July 20, 2014

Culpability. Practically everyone talking about the incident wants to lay this at the feet of Vladimir Putin, probably rightly so. If Putin had not sent his people into eastern Ukraine and supported them with heavy arms and training, this never would have happened.

No doubt Putin exerts greater control over Russia and events in Russia than a US president can exert over events in the US. But I think it is a stretch to assume that his control is absolute, especially in the eastern Ukraine. What the people who seem to be in control there are doing is not doing Putin any favors, so i think it's safe to say that while he may have instigated things, they have spiraled out of control.

Jim Morin
Jim Morin July 20, 2014

Putin is, of course, a crafty old fox, and we must remember he once worked for the KBG, but we ascribe superhuman powers to him at our peril.

The not so subtle implication of all this is that the US should "do something," that there should be "Hell to pay" in the words of Sen. McCain. Americans have no stomach whatsoever for involving themselves in another international imbroglio. And this is not some second or third tier country we're talking about. We're talking about Russia. Above all, this is a time for caution and deliberation.

The people controlling that section of Ukraine are beasts, no doubt about it: They've let the bodies lie on the ground. They've scooped up the black boxes and are keeping them from investigators (what they expect to find I cannot fathom). They are unceremoniously stowing the bodies in body bags in refrigerated rail cars (that's at least progress). In their minds I'm pretty sure they consider the black boxes and the bodies bargaining chips. War is hell.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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