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America Cannot Save Ukraine: Why MH17 Changes Nothing

August 4, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The agony of the families of the 298 people who died on flight MH17 lives on. Unfortunately, however, even a thorough crash investigation might not solve the mystery as to who shot down the plane.

The downing of the Malaysian airliner created shock and calls for stronger action against Russia and its separatist clients in Ukraine. But the tragic shootdown, though an atrocity, changes nothing in practice. Indeed, the United States has little credibility in complaining about foreign interference or errant attacks on civilians.

American intelligence reportedly concluded that Russian separatists mistook the flight for a Ukrainian military plane, which seems most likely. By their own claims, they had Buk missiles, whether captured from Ukraine or provided by Russia. Moreover, they claimed to have downed a Ukrainian transport plane and had been shooting down Ukrainian planes with some regularity. But the rebels would gain no advantage from intentionally downing a foreign airliner.

Nevertheless, likely isn’t certain. In 2001, the Ukrainian military inadvertently downed a Russian airliner when an antiaircraft missile fired as part of an exercise missed the target drone. Still, the Ukrainian military had no cause to be firing antiaircraft missiles, since the separatists possess no air force. Kiev would gain from pinning a civilian shootdown on the insurgents. However, exposure of a Ukrainian “false flag” operation would have devastating consequences, and likely would deter serious consideration of such a course.

The situation facing Ukraine is tragic, but not one of strategic significance to America.”

So, absent contrary evidence, policy makers should assume that the separatists did it, perhaps with missiles supplied from Russia. If so, then what to do?

Almost immediately after the incident in Ukraine, America’s hawks began stoking the war machine. Sen. John McCain said involvement of Russia or Russian separatists in the plane’s shootdown “would open the gates for us assisting, finally, giving the Ukrainians some defensive weapons [and] sanctions that would be imposed as a result of that. That would be the beginning.” Given the Senator’s propensity for calling for war, who knows what the end would be.

The better answer, however, remains to do largely nothing. The MH17 incident, while outrageous, actually is no trigger for anything. Errant attacks on civilians, while always tragic, are not unusual.

There were several mistaken downings of civilian airliners in World War II. The People’s Republic of China shot down a Hong Kong airliner …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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