Not enough is known about the downing of Flight 17 over rebel-held Ukraine. The largest unknown so far is the primordial one: why? Who gains from such a barbaric act? What mind could think that shooting a missile into a civilian airliner would gather any type of sympathy for any type of cause? To consider civilian targets justifiable clearly brands the culprits as terrorists, no question. There is no honest mistake owned up to or collateral damage claimed in this action as far as news reports have uncovered. It appears to have been intentional and, if the shoot down itself was not, the cover up, misdirection and disavowing are indicators of a moral turpitude of the highest magnitude.
Photographic evidence and intercepted communications by surveillance services indict as culprits the separatist rebels of eastern Ukraine. Separatists incited, trained and armed by Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, who seeks to assert that historically ethnic Russians living in foreign lands are entitled to territorial claims and subservience to their ancestral home country. This doctrine is destabilizing and dangerous and to leave it unchallenged will lead to greater conflict, not only in Russia’s sphere of influence, but in China’s and others, as well as the Middle East region.
The United States cannot turn a blind eye to this barbaric act and its recognizable origin in Russia’s ethnic based expansionist doctrine. But it cannot escalate out of proportion to the act itself. There are actions that can be taken to provide the adequate response.
- The shooting of the airliner with a missile is in and of itself a clear terrorist act, prosecutable and punishable by international law. Anyone aiding these terrorists is complicit and should be treated as such—and hunted down.
- A massive diplomatic black balling should be coordinated: The Russian government representatives in each of the countries with victims should be admonished and given clear instructions from these countries. The ambassadors to Russia from each of these countries should be recalled for consultation.
- Despite the Security Council veto power from Russia, resolutions should be put forward condemning in the strongest language the rebels’ actions and calling for their disarmament.
- NATO should mobilize and, with assistance from the US and cooperation from the Ukraine government, deploy armed drones to destroy all rebel SAM bases and equipment in eastern Ukraine. By attacking an international vessel, the rebels have called for such an international response.
- Navy ships should be deployed within cruise and perhaps even interceptor missile range of rebel bases and troops in eastern Ukraine.
While these are escalating actions and susceptible to fog of war, they are acceptable and proportional responses that still leave room for diplomatic solutions. I just hope that someone out there has a better idea. What is not a good idea is to not react to 21st Century barbarians.
Carlos J. Rangel