The observations that follow are intended to extend the chief conclusion reached by a previous contribution (click here) to Global Research.
In essence, the previous effort concluded that the MH 370 and MH 17 events are probably not independent of one another. The argument was based on evidence common to the two events (such as loss of communicative contact and apparent course diversion) together with associated probabilistic reasoning.
The penultimate paragraph of the earlier contribution reads as follows:
“One suspects that the MSM will completely ignore these considerations and will likely coalesce, for several reasons, around an account that blames the episode on an accidental discharge that Putin can nonetheless be blamed for given the hostilities in the region.”
So far, that prediction appears to have been accurate. This just in from an LA Times article entitled “U.S. officials believe attack against Malaysian plane was a mistake”:
“American intelligence agencies believe Ukrainian separatists shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet by mistake, possibly by misreading fuzzy radar images on a sophisticated surface-to-air missile launcher provided by Russia, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday.”
The rest of this piece discusses why the U.S. government is adopting this position. It also discusses why adopting it might, paradoxically, come close to an admission of guilt.
Notice that advancing an “accident” explanation serves several U.S. interests. To date on MH 17, the U.S. can produce no real evidence in support even of its ragtag rebel, missile launcher account:
“The officials [senior U.S. intelligence officials] made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government, even though they have not been able to authenticate all of it. For example, they cited a video of a missile launcher said to have been crossing the Russian border after the launch, appearing to be missing a missile.
But later, under questioning, the officials acknowledged they had not yet verified that the video was exactly what it purported to be.”
While is true that geopolitical assignments of guilt are primarily attributable to political processes and not evidence in a legalistic sense, it is also true that evidentiary considerations cannot be entirely dispensed with; doing so is just not “good form.”
By adopting an accident account, the U.S. is much better positioned to throw a bunch of sand on the evidentiary examination track. “We’re (the U.S.) not really accusing anybody here; so let’s just dial the temperature back just a bit and not worry about evidence; it was an accident after all”—that’s the idea.
Meanwhile, most Westerners don’t really care whether it was done accidentally or on purpose, passions are stoked, and EU financial institutions in particular are more or less compelled to pivot to stances more hostile to Putin.
So, the U.S. gets more or less what it wants without having to prove anything it all.
However, careful reflection shows that proceeding in this fashion paradoxically comes uncomfortably close to a U.S. admission of guilt. To see this, let’s think in light of conclusions from the previous criminological contribution (linked at the outset of this article.)
Given the very low a priori probability that two planes, both of which were Malaysia airline planes, would each randomly figure in the two recent airline disasters to attract massive global coverage, an “accident” explanation for the downing of MH 17 is very weak indeed.
If the downing of MH 17 was merely a random accident attributable to chance, any of the other dozens of planes in the same area on the same day could in principle have been downed. And yet, it was MH 17— which, like MH 370, appears to have lost communicative contact and diverted its course.
An intentional shoot down of a Malaysia airlines target in particular would explain far better, in terms of probability, the fact that it is MH 17’s fate we are now discussing, and not that of some other plane.
So, the U.S. knows, and must have known since the occurrence of the event, that any person who thinks about things carefully would conclude, on the basis of probabilistic considerations, that the MH 17 event was intentional.
Therefore, what we have is a charade in which each person who participates knows that
(1) the only real question is who is guilty of committing the intentional act, that
(2) everyone else who participates is thinking the same way, and that
(3) the U.S. is therefore lying when it ascribes the event to an accident.
The above reasoning leaves us three possibilities concerning U.S. guilt. Since the MH 17 event was in all likelihood intentional and since both sides to the dispute agree that the potential guilty party or parties are either the U.S. (and/or its affiliates) or Russia (and/or its affiliates)and no one else, we have:
(1) The U.S. cannot prove the guilt of Russia because it (the U.S.) is the guilty party not Russia;
(2) The U.S. can prove the guilt of Russia, but for some dark reason or reasons haselected not to do so;
(3) The U.S., even though it knows it is not the guilty party, cannot prove the guilt of Russia even though it knows that Russia must be guilty since it (the U.S.) is not and no one else is.
It is conceivable that the U.S. might have valid (from its point of view) reasons for lying by calling an event an accident even when everyone knows it was intentional— and then failing to prove the guilt of the non-U.S. intentional actor (Russia)—but it is by no means obvious.
In selecting among (1), (2), or (3), though, it is perhaps relevant to reflect that the U.S. almost immediately adverted to the ragtag rebel, missile scenario. If it knew of its own innocence and that the act almost surely was intentional, why would the U.S. be so eager to assign blame to the ragtag rebels, especially when it had to have known that doing so quickly might leave the door open to an “accident” interpretation—unless that was the U.S. design all along? And why would that have been the design all along? Why not wait for additional evidence to roll in before committing to an explanation?
Finally, readers might agree that the ideas in this article are quite in keeping with recent notions that a stray surface-to-air missile did not in fact down MH 17.
Dr. Jason Kissner is Associate Professor of Criminology at California State University. Dr. Kissner’s research on gangs and self-control has appeared in academic journals. His current empirical research interests include active shootings. You can reach him at[email protected].
Earlier article by Prof. Jason Kissner