The Shooting Down of a Malaysia Airlines Flight Is a Disaster That Will Be Felt Far and Wide

Update: Despite an initial report from Reuters, there’s now a dispute over how many Americans may have been aboard Flight 17. President Obama says there was at least one.

It’s difficult to overstate just what the shooting down of a passenger plane full of innocent people means for the conflict in Ukraine — and really the world. U.S. intelligence is now confirming what’s already been widely reported this afternoon: that a surface-to-air missile fired from the general area where pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces have been fighting for months knocked a Malaysia Airlines jet out of the sky, killing everyone on board.

The separatists are denying that they were the ones who launched the missile, saying that they don’t have the military capability to shoot down a plane flying at 33,000 feet. But not only is that very likely not the case, there’s a good chance the high-end weaponry they do have was provided by Putin’s Russia. Putin himself is blaming the Ukrainians.

Just yesterday President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia in response to the country’s ongoing support of the separatists. But Putin had shrugged off the pressure put on him by Obama and the world up to that point so it was always unlikely any new pressure was going to stunt his resolve.

The question now, though, is whether this new development will force Russia’s hand. The Ukraine and the separatists’ quiet little war just dragged Europe, the U.S. and really the rest of the globe into it. Something will have to be done in response. 295 people who had nothing to do with this conflict — 23 of whom were American — are now dead after being shot out of the sky. That shouldn’t be allowed to go unanswered by the United States or the world. The problem is, what do you do?

It’s not surprising at all that the hawks here at home are already beating a familiar drum, talking about how there should be “hell to pay,” if it’s proven that the pro-Russian forces did this. They’re also wasting no time in beating up on President Obama, bemoaning his supposed weakness with respect to Russia and Ukraine — weakness to which this tragedy can be directly traced, they imply. So while the situation itself is horrific, the local politics will be, predictably, ugly in their own right.

At the center of all of this, though, is the terror those 295 innocent people must have experienced in their final moments — and the fact that they were forced to endure those final moments at all when they never should’ve been in danger. They were on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. They weren’t supposed to die in a field in eastern Ukraine — in a war they had nothing to do with.

Video:

What may be the exact moment of impact on the ground:

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VERY GRAPHIC Russian television video of the crash area:

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President Obama’s initial comments on the crash of the flight:

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  • formerlywhatithink

    Right now, I’m glad that Obama is the President. Why? He’s shown that he is willing to ignore, and even call out, the more pernicious of his critics, then ignore them and get things done with executive orders. Remember Libya? He was accused of being being anything and everything, but he did what he had to do then pulled out when he was supposed to.

    The way I see this working out is that US intelligence agencies will provide proof of who actually shot down the plane. Then, the very same entities who have been raising holy hell about US intelligence, will use the information provided by the very same US intelligence agencies as proof of what happened. And the media and everybody will skip right over the hypocrisy.

    But, bottom line, what has been up to this point, was a regional conflict, has suddenly erupted into a global one. What may or not may not happen is distressing to think about, but for myself, I’m glad we have an adult in the White House. I shudder to think about how the cowboy (and his Sith Lord controller) would have responded to this.

    • Victor_the_Crab

      I’m glad we have an adult in the White House. I shudder to think about how the cowboy (and his Sith Lord controller) would have responded to this.

      Don’t you realise? Bush could see into Putin’s soul and decide he’s not a bad guy. Wouldn’t you feel more relieved to know that? (end snark)

      • Badgerite

        I’m not sure he really thought that. His nickname for him was Putty Put.
        Seriously. He might have just been saying that.

    • Scopedog

      But…but I thought Obama was just like Bush!

      Kidding, of course. Like you, I’m just damned glad he’s in the White House; we don’t need a shoot from the lip/hip dude with a fake swagger like the previous occupant.

  • HilaryB

    This world is a freaking mess.

  • Gunnut2600

    I suspect the same thing will happen as what occurred when the Soviets downed the Korean flight.

    Tensions will rise. There will be saber rattling…and hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

  • repugnicant

    People seem pretty quick to condemn Putin, as if the just as obtuse – but not as bright – Ukrainian government, armed with Russian weaponry should escape scrutiny. From what I’ve read, a BUK can only go a couple miles up (that’s like 10.5 thousand ft), so either the Ukrainian government is talking out their ass, or they know something. And why the hell was Malaysian Airlines flying routes over the Ukraine, where aircraft are being shot down left and right? Maybe they were informed that the SAMs being used were incapable of going that high. Which, of course, leaves aircraft as the prime suspect, piloted by some overzealous dipshit.

    Its all so tragic.

    • undsoweiter

      No, BUK’s can engage targets easily within the range of this aircraft.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buk_missile_system

      Commercial aircraft have regularly used that air corridor for years.

      • repugnicant

        Thanks for the correction. Apparently, rebels are thought to have SAMs capable of engaging 10,000 ft, with no verified BUK systems. Some AP report said one BUK was spotted in rebel territory, but the Ukrainians have several BUKs deployed in Donetzk, right in the flight path, a flight path that shouldn’t have been used.

        • JozefAL

          Unless, it was the most direct path for the flight. A shifting of a flight path by even a slight turn can affect fuel consumption and a need to stop to refuel.

  • Scopedog

    How long until we hear the conspiracy nutballs start howling “false flag” or trying to pin this entirely on Obama?

    • villemar

      Oh, done deal. Don’t click if you don’t have to, just trust me this is already a thing.

      http://www.infowars.com/who-shot-down-the-malaysian-airliner/

      BTW I think they should send Dan Bidondi to Donetsk to get the Truth!

      • villemar

        Here’s some choice comments from that article, in case you had a few IQ points you wanted to shed for summer:

        “Essentially Hillary shot it down thanks to the arms deal in Benghazi.”

        “The European Union are trying to build a military dictatorship and they are deliberately trying to start trouble.”

        “Obama shot it down to divert attention from the border crisis.”

        “first flight of MH17 17.7.1997 (17 years old ) ,todays date 17.7 .. biblical significance of the number 17 ?? scary stuff.”

        • D_C_Wilson

          So, who will be the first to say it’s a diversion from Benghazi!!!?

          • villemar

            It’s funny/sad to notice how anything about this conflict creates an online confluence of CT derp from Teabaggers, Nashibot Trolls, and Alex Jones Cultists. Sometimes their illiteracy makes them hard to distinguish: Poor spelling and grammar due to hillbilly inbreeding, a massive head injury or organic brain dysfunction, or bad Russian translation?

          • D_C_Wilson

            What’s truly sad is how predictable they’ve become.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Ahem— poor spelling and grammar aren’t heritable traits. These people just feed on the poison that’s been shoveled their way all their lives. It’s a pathetic attempt to form community among white people who can’t find a place between their individuality and the society they haven’t been taught to negotiate.

          • dbtheonly

            Immigration.

        • kushiro -

          What about the one talking about how the passports are undamaged. I guess we should expect them to have spontaneously burst into flame in people’s pockets and carry-ons.

        • HOTDOGTSUNAMI

          My favorite one was,

          “Confiscated along with their mobile phones after being gassed mid-flight before the plane was diverted and substituted with MH370. Haven’t seen any charred bodies in any of those photos either.”

          Have these people no shame? 300 people just died and their first reaction was who covered it
          up.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Todd Starnes is also working very hard to exploit this by bashing Obama.

      http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/07/17/van-susteren-criticizes-fox-news-colleague-for/200137

      • rocket621

        He is a POS.

    • dbtheonly

      Done. Rush Limbaugh announced that he found it interesting that this distracts from the disaster Obama has made on immigration. This about 4:00 EDT

  • Kataphractos

    The first thing that should be done is load up all of the republican pearl clutchers onto a transport aircraft and push them out the door at 30,000 feet without parachutes. It might not help resolve the situation, but it would be satisfying.

    • rocket621

      Thathis horrible, but I like it.

    • feloniousgrammar

      I’d prefer a gauntlet before they’re pushed out of the plane. Let them know what running for their lives means before they go.

  • Mr. BD Touchdown Machine

    Felt far and wide how ? Where ? Keep shopping people . Also keep self actualizing or whatever else you do .

    • feloniousgrammar

      It’s not hard to imagine that many people are now feeling that they, their loved ones, their friends and coworkers, etc.; could be shot down in a commercial airline. And that’s on top of all the people who are personally grieving the dead. It’s not asking too much in a connected world that commercial aircraft not be shot down by some random asshats (possibly soaking in vodka) who just happen to have anti-aircraft weaponry and a willingness to use it on a commercial airliner. If they used ground control in order to carry out this catastrophe, then I hope they all end up in a military prison.

      This is a major violation of the public trust that deserves some answers, remedies, and new agreements in order to restore the public trust.

  • trgahan

    “That shouldn’t be allowed to go unanswered by the United States or the world. The problem is, what do you do?”

    That is a tough question.

    Western Europe, seeing what has happened to Ukraine, seems too scared to have their natural gas suddenly shut off and/or get a bill for “back payments” owned to the Russian state gas company. Like the annexing of Crimea and fighting that has happened to date…they probably REALLY want to keep looking the other way.

    As for the U.S.? The whole reason Putin started all of this was because he knows the state of the U.S. politics. President Obama is in a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” position and with the way midterms are looking his BS impeachment is probably only six months away.
    The hawks on the right will cry “war” cause they and theirs will never have to fight it and they will likely get rich from it. But realistically a military response of any kind is just want Putin needs to draw attention away from what caused this to happen in the first place.

    Any response will have to stay diplomatic and economic, which the media finds boring and has no patients for, so it will forever be second guessed if not outright attacked as “weakness”.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Oh, I suspect the grown ups will do as best they can behind the scenes, and the press and its silly audience will move on to the task of creating the next emotional train wreck.

  • CL Nicholson

    I just saw this – Oh, Wow! What do you do? Its not like we go to war with Putin or randomly start shooting Ukrainians.

  • Tom Mullen

    23 Americans

    • Chez Pazienza

      Just saw it. I’ll update.

  • Spectricide

    Putin the Enabler might be head in hands saying Oh shit! Boys with toys and history goes way back.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Agreed. He’s got to know that he is very responsible for the conditions that led to this. No one should have been wandering around the Ukraine with anti-aircraft weaponry.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Putin the Enabler might be head in hands saying Oh shit!

      What in the world has Putin ever done that would make anyone think he he sees something wrong in what happened, let alone feels he has any responsibility for it?