An article contrasting the downing of Malaysian Flight M17 (by forces still to be determined) with the downing of Korean Air Flight 007 by Soviet fighters and the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes got me thinking about why the standards of accountability are so inconsistent.
The Independent catalogues 7 passenger planes that were shot down prior to Malaysian Flight M17 (I added 2 more for completeness). This article also raises questions about why some parties are able to get away with downing a civilian aircraft while some parties are held accountable (the article does not attempt to answer the question)
- 1954. Cathay Pacific VR-HEU shot down by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. Ten people on board were killed.
- 1955. El Al Flight 402 shot down in Bulgarian airspace by two MiG-15 jets. Seven crew and 51 passengers were killed.
- 1973. Libyan Airlines Flight 114 shot down by Israeli Phantom jet fighters. Only 5 survived of the 113 on board.
- 1978. Korean Air flight 902 shot down by Soviet Sukhoi fighters after it violated Soviet airspace. Remarkably nearly all the passengers on board survived an emergency landing on a frozen lake. Two people were killed.
- 1978. Air Rhodesia Flight RH 825 and Flight RH827 shot down by Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (Zipra) using ground-launched Stela missiles. 10 survivors were murdered at one of the crash sites, in the other none of the 59 passengers and crew survived.
- 1980. Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 brought down by a missile fired from French Navy aircraft over the Tyrrhenian Sea. All 77 passengers and 4 crew were killed.
- 1983. Korean Air Flight 007 shot down by Soviet fighters after the pilot strayed into Soviet airspace. There were no survivors.
- 1988. Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by the USS Vincennes using a surface-to-air missile while in Iranian territorial waters. All 290 passengers and crew were killed.
- 2001. Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 shot down by the Ukrainian military over the Black Sea using a BUK S-200 missile. All 66 passengers and 12 crew members died.
The Russians, of course have their own take on this inconsistency, and one suspects that they are counting on a continuation of this practice, in the event that they may have had a hand in the downing of Flight M17. However, despite their obviously ulterior motives, they have a valid point, which other web sites are beginning to also pick up on.
Not withstanding what may have happened in the past, we should not let that get in the way of holding those who may be responsible for shooting down Flight M17 accountable, regardless of whether their act was deliberate or accident — when you wield weapons of that nature, one has to accept culpability for how they are used. The question for us, is: how do we do that when the standard of accountability set by prior incidents is so low and inconsistent and seems to be overshadowed by geopolitical agendas that make it hard to sift fact from fiction — Colin Powell's very detailed presentation to the UN security Council of fake made up evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, comes to mind."