Timid Obama Unwilling To Blame Russia For The Shooting Down Of Malaysia Airlines 777 Calling for an international investigation is meaningless, as the tragedy occurred in a war zone

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s speech about the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over Eastern Ukraine is quite disappointing. In a very vague and deliberately cautious way Obama said that this tragedy is an additional casualty of a conflict that Russian President Putin has done nothing to stop.

Cautious Obama

Still, he did not squarely point the finger at Russia, hiding behind the notion that we do not have all the facts. Using totally out of place legalistic language, Obama said a few obvious things. Something like: “Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We do not know exactly what happened…We still do not know who pulled the trigger…We do not have conclusive evidence…We need an international investigation…”

Legalistic niceties

Now, all this legalistic fine points may be appropriate in the context of a domestic criminal investigation. In such a context properly empowered law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction over a crime that has been committed. They can get warrants. They have the power to search and interrogate witnesses and suspects until a strong case can be made to arrest and indict someone. And this will be done always keeping in mind that the suspect is entitled to a fair trial and that every defendant is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This is how we investigate crimes in a civilized country with real rule of law, protection of the rights of the accused, and an independent judiciary.

How do you get the facts in a war zone?

The trouble is that here we are in a completely different scenario. Eastern Ukraine is not Indiana or Vermont. It is a lawless jungle with an ongoing civil war.

How is Obama going to get “the facts” about who shot down the Malaysia Airlines civilian airplane? Does he think that he is going to dispatch the FBI to Eastern Ukraine so that they will set up a command center and thereafter have the opportunity to interrogate the rebels, in order to ascertain who did what? This is not even funny.

We shall never know

The obvious reality is that most likely we shall never know the facts. The rebels who shot down the plane, with or without direct assistance from Russian military personnel, have no interest in coming forward and “confessing”. The Russians, as usual, will lie about their role, direct or indirect as it may have been.

And forget about getting the forensic evidence on the ground. The “crime scene” has already been tampered with. Pieces of evidence, relevant or not, have been removed. The 777 black box has been removed by the rebels, and sent –guess where– to Moscow.

Putin is morally responsible

As I said in a previous piece, this terrible tragedy is the (most likely) unintended consequence of a conflict manufactured, sustained, and funded by Moscow.

And President Vladimir Putin is therefore morally responsible for the death of almost 300 hundred civilians, half of them Dutch citizens, who had absolutely nothing to do with the civil war he created in Eastern Ukraine.

Nothing will happen

President Obama understandably does not want to fan the flames of conflict. However, he is at least disingenuous when he calls for a full and thorough international investigation about what happened.

He knows full well that such an impartial investigation is an impossibility because of lack of unimpeded access to relevant places, tampered evidence and lack of opportunity to interrogate key people who could point out the actual culprits.

And what about the rest of the international community? What about Europe? Well, expect a few minutes of outrage, followed by silence.

Europe wants peace

Europe wants peace. Acknowledging that Putin behaves like a bandit would force the Europeans to reassess all their assumptions about having resolved any and all major security problem in the Continent. And they simply refuse to do this.

In the end, as nobody will be able to “prove” conclusively that Russia is behind this tragedy, Putin will get away with this.

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