MH17 Madness

MH17 Madness
Profile photo of David Howden

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The furor over the downing of MH17 has brought forward the predictable public ire. Blood for blood seems to be the most advocated solution now, and politicians in the Western World are agitating for a fight to make amends.

But hold on a second. One of the fundaments of our legal system is the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. Whenever terrible events like this happen, it seems that this criterion gets thrown out the window to satisfy the desire for retribution.

Consider this opening sentence from a Globe and Mail editorial this morning:

Even without knowing precisely who fired the missile that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it is safe to say that the blame for the chaos that has overtaken parts of eastern Ukraine, the area from which a missile was launched at an Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, lies largely at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Globe admits it doesn’t know how fired the missile, but the blame “lies largely at the feet” of Vladimir Putin? Where is due process, some investigation or fact checking?

Emotions drag people into all sorts of bad decisions. Our thirst for blood after these types of life-taking events often results in more blood in the streets. Consider the American response to invade Afghanistan after 9/11, or the rush into Iraq under the pretense of WMDs. Both were rash decisions made in the heat of the moment, and both had the predictable result of more lost lives and soul searching amongst the belligerents.

I guess those instances are now far in the past.

The processes that define our rule of law are in place for a reason. They stop rash and unwarranted decisions from taking place. Putin or pro-Russian separatists might be to blame for downing of MH17, but it is far too important a fact to glaze over before responding. Collect the evidence, make a compelling case, and then see what action is prudent. That’s the way justice is supposed to be served.


  • Patrick Barron

    Murray N. Rothbard always asked "Who benefits?". It is hard to see how either Russia or the Russian separatists could benefit from shooting down an airliner. Such action is almost certain to lead to further economic sanctions or even war. I do not think that the Russians or their separatist allies want the West to intervene to protect Ukraine and possibly kick the separatists out. Therefore, David Howden is correct in pointing out the need for a thorough investigation. Russian or Russian separatist obstruction to such an investigation again would be self-defeating, because it would be prima facie evidence that they did in fact shoot down the airliner, thereby bringing down on their heads the entire civilized world. Now, it may be that they did the deed…but let's find out.

  • thebiggreenlie

    If Russia wanted to get ahead of this condemnation they "could" drag the idiot who fired this missile into custody and have an open and honest trial for the world to witness so that cooler heads prevailed. But then where would the politicians have a platform to voice their BS!

  • olduvainovel

    Unfortunately, 'rule of law' gets thrown out the window completely in the 'fog of war'. I cannot believe the number of media articles and online commentators who have acted as judge, jury, and executioner within minutes of the tragedy–and almost everyone of them pointing the finger at the pro-Russian separatists (I wouldn't be surprised if the NSA and GCHQ are manipulating online commentary).
    Iraq and WMDs is a great example. I am also reminded of the situation around chemical weapons in Syria when anti-government forces were eventually outed as the culprits but for the 24-48 prior to such evidence the West charged ahead blaming the Assad government (false flag?) that almost ended in the States invading Syria.
    It is as Noam Chomsky lamented; governments will 'manufacture consent' for those policies that are abhorred by their citizens.
    Was this a 'false flag' attack perpetrated by the Ukrainian government to 'manufacture consent' amongst the West/NATO? I don't know but there seems to be an awful lot of people itching for a global conflagration of violence and mayhem, which is where all these geopolitical nightmares seem to be leading us…

Profile photo of David Howden

David Howden is Chair of the Department of Business and Economics, and professor of economics at St. Louis University, at its Madrid Campus, Academic Vice President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada, and winner of the Mises Institute's Douglas E. French Prize. Send him mail.

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