Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Accept, apologise, punish the guilty

[An article about the MH17 tragedy published on the website of Newsweek magazine is yet another that makes an analogy to Pan Am 103 and Lockerbie. Unlike most others from American sources, it does refer to IR655 and the USS Vincennes.  The article reads in part:]

Just six months ago Putin’s international standing was at an all-time high as he presided over the Sochi Olympics and released imprisoned oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot group. But it began its precipitous descent with Russia’s occupation of Crimea – and now, Putin’s name and reputation have become inextricably linked to the tragedy of MH17. This is his Lockerbie moment.

“Politics is about ­control of the imaginary – and [MH17] plane has become symbolic of something deeper,” says Mark Galeotti of New York University. “It is becoming very difficult not to regard Putin’s Russia as essentially an aggressive, subversive and destabilising nation after this.”

It didn’t have to be like this. Unlike Muammar Gadaffi, whose agents ­knowingly blew up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 243 people, Putin didn’t order separatist militiamen near Donetsk to murder civilians. The evidence points to a tragic mistake by ill-trained and ill-disciplined militias to whom Russia rashly supplied deadly surface to air missiles. But the Kremlin didn’t have to own this disaster. Putin could have disowned the Donetsk rebel group responsible, agreed to cooperate with international investigators, call world leaders to share their shock and commitment to bring the guilty to justice.

Instead, he did the opposite. In the days after the tragedy the Kremlin obfuscated the facts, blamed Kiev and facilitated the Donetsk separatists’ hasty cover-up operations – from attempting to hide bodies that had tell-tale shrapnel wounds to hurriedly evacuating the BUK rocket launcher back across the border (a not-so-secret operation snapped by the camera phones of local residents and Kiev’s spies). Putin himself appeared on national television – twice – vaguely blaming the whole incident on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for not making peace with the rebels, a convoluted version of a child’s “he made me do it” argument. As a result of Putin’s KGB-trained instinct to deny everything, the tragedy of MH17 is, in the eyes of much of the world, now seen as Putin’s doing. (...)

But Putin has allowed himself to become a hostage to bad stuff happening, which is just bad politics. Cover-ups rarely work ­, as the US found in the aftermath of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, for instance, or the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988, just five months before Lockerbie, the smartest way to deal with such disasters is to accept, apologise, punish the guilty. 

[“Accept”: ‘The following day, the Pentagon held a news conference on the incident. After originally having flatly denied Iran's version of the event, saying that it had shot down an F-14 fighter and not a civilian aircraft, the State Department (after a review of the evidence) admitted the downing of Iran Air 655. It was claimed that the plane had "strayed too close to two US Navy warships that were engaged in a battle with Iranian gunboats" and, according to the spokesman, that the "proper defensive action" was taken (in part) because the "suspect aircraft was outside the prescribed commercial air corridor" (Washington Post).

‘That it "strayed" from its normal, scheduled flight path is factually incorrect. And so was the claim that it was heading right for the ship and "descending" toward it — it was ascending. Another "error" was the contention that it took place in international waters (it did not, a fact only later admitted by the government). Incorrect maps were used when Congress was briefed on the incident.’

“Apologise”: ‘The US government issued notes of regret for the loss of human lives and in 1996 paid reparations to settle a suit brought in the International Court of Justice regarding the incident, but the United States never released an apology or acknowledgment of wrongdoing. George H W Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time commented on the incident during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988): "I will never apologize for the United States — I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy."’

“Punish the guilty”: ‘Despite the mistakes made in the downing of the plane, the men of the Vincennes were awarded Combat Action Ribbons for completion of their tours in a combat zone. Lustig, the air-warfare coordinator, received the Navy Commendation Medal. In 1990, The Washington Post listed Lustig's awards as one being for his entire tour from 1984 to 1988 and the other for his actions relating to the surface engagement with Iranian gunboats. In 1990, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer ... from April 1987 to May 1989." The award was given for his service as the commanding officer of the Vincennes from April 1987 to May 1989, and the citation made no mention of the downing of Iran Air 655.’]

1 comment:


    For information and to remember - please see this document video:
    Link to Lockerbie Bomber Truth 1/2 >
    Lockerbie Bomber Truth 2/2 >

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. Webpage: