Editorials

July 22, 2014

Punish Russia for atrocity over Ukraine

Putin can’t avoid responsibility for the passenger jet atrocity.

What response does America offer to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17? How does any nation, or any people, respond to an atrocity that took 298 innocent lives? Clearly with outrage; but then what?

First, we should ask why these people were killed.

Was it an act of terrorism, reminiscent of the bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, that brought down an airliner with 259 on board? Was it an act of war, such as the sinking of the Lusitania, which claimed 1,159 people a century ago and precipitated our entry into World War I? Or was it just a big mistake, the ill-conceived act of a militia that is barely more than a mob, nurtured by Mother Russia and her bare-chested brute of a president?

Even the Russian people must be horrified by the carnage in which they are complicit. International investigators were kept from the site for days. The black boxes were found quickly enough, but were kept in militia control for four days before being turned over. Meanwhile, Putin’s man on the ground, former KGB operative Igor Girkin, told The Associated Press he believes the plane was filled with corpses and flown by autopilot over Ukraine, where it was brought down just to make his trigger-happy mob look like murderers.

Only people in complete denial could believe such a concoction.

As Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the AP: “This looks less like an accident than a crime. … After the crime comes the cover-up. What we have seen is evidence tampering on an industrial scale.”

Calling it a mere crime might be the most benevolent explanation. But if it is a crime, then those who perpetrated it – and who are now trying to cover it up (including the ridiculous Girkin) – must be brought to justice.

To do that, we need Russia’s help. By withholding it, Putin’s hands become bloody, too.

Clearly, the rabble in Donetsk would not have had those sophisticated missiles without Putin’s knowledge. Even more basic, Ukraine wouldn’t be a war zone if Putin had not blessed, backed and armed those who have torn the nation apart and ushered Crimea into Russia’s welcoming embrace.

European leaders, dependent on Russian natural gas, had been unwilling to follow the U.S. in enacting increasingly tough sanctions over Russia’s adventures in Ukraine. Maybe the deaths of so many of their own citizens will stiffen their spines and change their minds.

If so, they can start by punishing Putin. He has refused to accept any responsibility even as his state-controlled media has been filled with those ridiculous fantasies about flying corpses. This tears away the mask of civility from Putin’s methods and motives. He cannot be welcomed back to the counsels of civilized society until those responsible are brought to justice.

At the White House, President Barack Obama said this atrocity shows that the Ukraine crisis must be resolved. “This should snap everybody’s heads to attention,” he said, labeling it “a wake-up call.”

This is not a wake-up call; this is a call to action. Murder cannot be tolerated; crimes against innocents must be punished.

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