The horrific murder of over two hundred individuals on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 stunned the world last week. Within minutes of the tragic news, pundits already came to conclusions; the attack was by the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian separatists, or Russia itself. Some pundits went further and concluded whether or not the attack was really an attack or an accident. The puzzling part about all of these conclusions, however, were the fact that they were made only several minutes after the attack. Information was scant and unreliable at best, so how on earth could anyone really jump to a conclusion with such confidence? I’m not going to say any of the suggestions above aren’t a valid hypothesis, but I was surprised how confident everyone felt with their conclusion before any official investigation took place.
Following the attack, everyone sprung into an investigation. The United States did what they could, the U.N. took the lead, and Russia immediately attempted to wipe their hands clean of this mess. While no official conclusions have been released yet, evidence is stacking up that pro-Russian separatists were the ones who shot down MH17. Russia might feel slightly vindicated that it wasn’t an official Russian force that shot down the plane, but their clear support for these separatists may have still played a role in the ultimate destruction of the plane. But even after investigations conclude that pro-Russian separatists, or any other organization executed the missile shooting, there are still plenty of questions that need answering before we can come to a true conclusion.
For instance, I want to know why there was a commercial flight flying over Ukraine. Building evidence is suggesting that Malaysian Airlines is one of the very few commercial airlines that were flying over Ukraine at all. Technically, the air space was free to use, and a few European airlines had elected to take their chances as well. Although, many of these flights were avoiding the areas with the highest tensions, something that Malaysian Airlines failed to do. This isn’t me accusing Malaysian Airlines of being the murderer of its passengers, but I do want to know why they would endanger their passengers like that. I’m equally as puzzled as to why the Ukrainian government still was allowing commercial flights over their country with so much instability right now. The Ukrainian government gave insufficient information about the severity of tension in the area. It just looks like the Ukrainian government was careless and Malaysian Airlines took the bait without considering that some areas would be worse than others within Ukraine’s airline space. I’d still like some answers though, not just my speculation, so we can hold everyone accountable.
Accountability isn’t being looked for from Ukraine or Malaysian Airlines, but not from Russia as well. In all three cases, this seems misguided and shouldn’t be left unchecked. If pro-Russian separatists really did fire the missile, we need to know if the missile was provided by Russia. Even if Vladimir Putin didn’t sign off the firing of the missile, if he provided it to the eventual perpetrators, he needs to be held accountable. Putin has been supportive of most actions of the separatists so far, despite international calls for him to rescind his support. Perhaps he would reconsider his position if his separatists are found responsible for this attack. If he declines to, I hope an international effort to pressure Putin will occur. The critics who claim President Obama hasn’t done enough with Putin often fail to recognize that no other nation is really taking initiative at all. This time is already beginning to look different, with the public denouncement of Putin by Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom. It may be a little pre-emptive, but evidence is mounting to suggest that the separatists caused this.
We still need to answer a very crucial question though: why? Was this attack deliberate or an accident? Even if the attack was deliberate, did the perpetrators realize they were shooting down a commercial airline plane or did they have reason to believe they were shooting down something else? None of these scenarios will justify their actions, but it could show the world how inept these individuals are, whether they are separatists or a government force. If I use the leading narrative right now, the picture drawn is a bunch of pro-Russian separatists were trigger happy and unknowingly shot down a commercial airline plane, using weapons provided by Russia. If this narrative is indeed accurate, then the international community shall move forward to ensure organizations are held accountable for their roles in this tragedy.
I’m beginning to jump to conclusions though. These questions will be answered in the coming weeks, and I am confident we will know in the matter of days who actually fired the missile. Until then, I ask for patience of everyone and to do our best not to solidify our opinions until all of the evidence has been presented. Critics, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (SC-R) claim this deliberation can come off as “indecisive” or “weakness”, but I’d prefer to be right than the first to speak. Otherwise we could be spending months arguing over which narrative is correct, while the true narrative fades into the backdrop and leaves this tragedy without any solution to truly bring justice for the victims of flight MH17.