Conventional Weapons Proliferation and the Downing of Flight 17Posted: July 18, 2014
The world is shocked and horrified by the destruction of a civilian aircraft with 300 people on board over eastern Ukraine, apparently caused by a surface to air missile launched by pro-Russian separatists. Information is obviously still coming in, but it certainly does appear that a sophisticated Russian-made and Russian-supplied missile system was used. This raises the question, still to be determined, of exactly what link exists between the Russian military and the firing of the missile that brought down the aircraft.
In a CNN article today a “senior U.S. official” is quoted as saying:
[T]he responsibility is Russia’s whether they had Russian personnel there or they gave them equipment and an instruction manual.
These separatist leaders are taking orders from Russia and (Russian President Vladimir Putin) has to realize the consequence of sending heavy and sophisticated weapons to a gang of sociopaths, extremists, violent thugs, nationalists and agents who are just given weapons and told to make chaos.
That sounds about right to me. And it has echoes in other cases of sophisticated conventional weapons being supplied to poorly trained, questionably responsible fighters in other situations as well. Immediately to mind came, among other cases, the US supply of weapons to the Mujahideen (later to become the Taliban) in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and the much more recent US supply of conventional arms to the Iraqi army, many of which were left on the battlefields of northern Iraq when the soldiers disrobed themselves and fled, and were picked up by the advancing ISIS fighters, who are now using them to wreak havoc in Syria.
Perhaps all cautionary tales about irresponsible proliferation of conventional weapons.