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Post "For Decades to Come": Siberia 1812 and Vincennes Incident
Created by John Eipper on 07/23/14 1:28 AM

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"For Decades to Come": Siberia 1812 and Vincennes Incident (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 07/23/14 1:28 am)

When commenting my post of 22 July, JE wrote: "But are we condemned to this tense dysfunctionality 'for decades to come'? With the possible exception of Lockerbie, commercial airline shoot-downs tend to be forgotten in a year or so."

I hasten to add, by way of clarification, that the situation which I was describing in such grim terms is not, narrowly, the shooting down of MH-17, but rather the wider conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

The political significance of the shooting down of an airliner depends on the circumstances. It should not be forgotten that the Ukrainians shot down a Russian airliner in 2001 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia_Airlines_Flight_1812 ) which was en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk. The contrast to the case of MH-17 is quite amazing. The story that the Russian airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian missile (fired from Crimea, of all places) was broken by the Americans, and was at first angrily denied by Vladimir Putin, who cooperated with the Ukrainians to try to cover up the incident, apparently for the sake of preserving good relations between Russia and Ukraine. Oh, how the world changed between 2001 and 2014.

The shooting down of Siberian 1812 by the Ukrainians did not create much political fallout, because it was a pure accident which occurred as the result of an ordinary military exercise without any hostilities or even tension between the countries involved. The case of MH-17 is very, very different, because this incident occurred not as the result of an ordinary military exercise, but as the result of military support of a rebellion intended to undermine the Ukrainian government. Military support provided in a reckless manner, in this case.

In that, the case of MH-17 is closer to the Vincennes incident, in which an Iranian airliner was shot down by a US guided missile cruiser. The Iranian airliner was operating in Iranian airspace, and was shot down by the Vincennes missile battery after the Vincennes crew mistook it (recklessly, I think) for an attacking F14.

I would not say that the Vincennes incident was "forgotten in a year or so." Perhaps it dropped off the headlines, but the incident poisoned the relationship with Iran for years, perhaps to this day.

JE comments:  Wikipedia informs us that the Ukrainian government ended up paying reparations of $200,000 per dead passenger of Siberia 1812.  Families of the victims of the Vincennes attack each received $213,000.  In this macabre mathematical exercise, I wonder what the going price per victim is today?

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