By now, most of you know about Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 -- a 777 carrying 295 people -- which was downed in Ukraine near the Russian border. I've not had a chance to watch much television news coverage, but judging from the little that I have
seen, it appears that the talking heads are going to great lengths to convince Americans that Russia must be responsible
The Ukrainian government has denied responsibility and issued a statement which suggests (but does not state) that Russia destroyed the jet.
I advise caution. For the following reasons:
1. Vladimir Putin has no
reason to want a thing like this to happen. What could he gain from the destruction of a civilian airliner? (There are those who say that the Russian military mistook the airliner for a military jet. That would be one hell
of a mistake.)
2. Historically speaking, the destruction of a ship is the traditional way to start a war. Remember the Maine, remember the Lusitania, and remember the Tonkin Gulf resolution. In all three cases, the real story differed from what the citizenry believed at the time.
3. Our assessment of the Ukrainian government's credibility must take into account the way they handled the October 2001 downing of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812. The Russians immediately suspected terrorism, while the CIA argued that the jet was struck by an errant S-200 surface-to-air missile, fired by the Ukrainian armed forces during exercises in Crimea. The Ukrainian military at first angrily denied that their missile could have been done the deed. Later, Ukraine admitted responsibility and paid compensation.
(Just to make matters supremely complicated, some people still
insist that it was technically impossible for that S-200 to have been the cause.)
4. The recent coup in Ukraine originated with an apparent "false flag" event. I refer, of course, to the "mystery snipers"
who fired on the crowd protesting against the previous (pro-Russian) government of that country.
Now let's look at our list of suspects.
It is possible that one of the separatist groups rebelling against the current government of Ukraine fired on the airliner. This AP report
(about the earlier downing of a military jet) is intriguing:
An Associated Press reporter on Thursday saw seven rebel-owned tanks parked at a gas station outside the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne. In the town, he also observed a Buk missile system, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).
This AP reports stands in contrast to what Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters told Fox News
But retired Army Lt. Col Ralph Peters, also a Fox News contributor, said it is unlikely the Russian military would have put missile batteries capable of knocking a plane out of the sky at such an altitude in the hands of rebels.
"It wasn't the separatists, although Russia will try to blame them, or blame the Ukrainians," Peters said. "The Russians have not given the separatists complex, high-altitude air-defense systems. If this airliner was flying at 34,000 feet or any altitude close to that, it was shot down by Russian military air-defense systems perched on the Ukrainian border."
Peters' display of certainty is itself rather suspicious. How can he be so sure that the separatists don't have surface-to-air missiles? The separatists have said that they "liberated" a Buk system from the Ukrainian military. This claim appeared in a separatist Twitter feed, which was later deleted. (It is preserved here
Separatist leader Alexander Borodai says that the Ukrainian military shot down the jet.
There is still another theory -- one that is undeniably intriguing (and frightening), even if it does come from the oft-despised Russia Today. RT suggests that the intended target was none other than Vladimir Putin
Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling almost the same route as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 295, Interfax news agency reports citing sources.
“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft - 15:44 Moscow time,” a source told the news agency on condition of anonymity.
"The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical", the source added.
President Putin was on his way from Brazil, where he attended the BRICS summit, to Moscow.
Since this is a paranoid story for paranoid times, perhaps we should note that this rather startling RT story received all of two comments (one calling the theory sensible, the other calling it a lie) -- and then RT disabled the comments feature for "technical reasons." How often does that