I’m not going to leap to conclusions about the terrible downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet, and I’m not going to rush to judgment about what caused the disaster. Nor am I going to heap criticism on President Obama, as some have, for not saying more about the incident after he learned of it. With an incident was awful as this, we can and should take the time to determine the true facts before assigning blame and taking action.
I will say this, however — if it is determined that pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists did shoot down the plane with a missile, it is one of the worst, most unforgivable crimes imaginable. Hundreds of people from a number of different nations boarded this particular jet in Amsterdam, headed to Kuala Lumpur. They didn’t know that boarding an international flight that was just like countless others would be their doom. The jet flew through peaceful airspace, where there had been no warning of any danger. The people on the plane were absolutely defenseless against an attack. Anyone who would shoot down a plane under those circumstances — even if it was a case of mistaken identity — simply does not deserve to live in the modern, civilized world.
If a missile attack in fact occurred, whoever was responsible for this outrage must be punished, and the punishment should come from every nation that had citizens aboard that jet. If Ukrainian separatists were the culprits, then the United States should side with the Ukrainian government and do whatever it can to defeat the separatists, learn who perpetrated this act, bring them to justice, and see that they are appropriately punished. If Russia wants to be accepted as a responsible figure on the international scene, it should do likewise — and so should every other country that has an international airport.
I’m tired of mealy-mouthed responses to criminal, terrorist acts that demand swift and sure action. If commercial jets can be shot from the skies without fear of prompt and painful retribution, then the world has become a grimmer, darker place. We simply cannot permit such acts to go unpunished. Let’s get the facts, get them quickly, and then take meaningful steps against whoever perpetrated this awful crime.