It’s easy to blame Trump. But the Iran plane dis­as­ter isn’t his fault.

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - ••• Read more from Kath­leen Parker’s ar­chive, fol­low her on Twit­ter or find her on Face­book.

It may be tempt­ing to blame Pres­i­dent Trump for the downed pas­sen­ger jet in Iran this week, but a lin­ear con­clu­sion it is not.

At the least, such a judg­ment is pre­ma­ture and rigged with the pol­i­tics of emo­tion.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-calif.), who sits on both the In­tel­li­gence and Armed Ser­vices com­mit­tees, essen­tially said the pres­i­dent was at fault for the down­ing of the plane, while me­dia re­ports from Canada, which lost at least 63 coun­try­men in the dis­as­ter, fea­tured mourn­ers point­ing fin­gers at the United States.

Of­fi­cials from the United States, Bri­tain and Canada have all said that in­tel­li­gence re­ports strongly sug­gest that the air­liner was hit by an Ira­nian sur­face-to-air mis­sile. Iran called that assess­ment a “big lie,” in­stead blam­ing tech­ni­cal is­sues.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view on Thurs­day on CNN, Speier in­sisted that the dis­as­ter was “col­lat­eral dam­age” from Trump’s “provoca­tive” ac­tions to­ward Iran. When pressed dur­ing an­other CNN in­ter­view on Fri­day, she said that, while she wasn’t plac­ing blame on Trump specif­i­cally for Iran’s ap­par­ent shoot-down of the plane, “it all em­anates from the killing of [Maj. Gen Qasem] Soleimani” or­dered by Trump. Speier added that, in the wake of the airstrike that tar­geted the Quds Force com­man­der, Iran is “pro­vid­ing vengeance . . . to the United States,” which, though use­ful to the nar­ra­tive dis­pen­sary, isn’t sup­ported by logic in the case of the air­liner. Never mind the wor­ri­some pos­si­bil­ity that Trump’s aphasia­like means of ex­pres­sion may be a con­ta­gious tic.

Were Trump a more trust­wor­thy pres­i­dent — and his for­eign pol­icy more than just a “series of im­pulses,” as my col­league Fa­reed Zakaria so aptly put it re­cently — then peo­ple might be more in­clined to wait out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. In times of shock and grief, we hu­mans quickly seek to as­sign blame, if only in part to des­ig­nate a tar­get for the anger that fol­lows.

But, even con­sid­er­ing Trump’s du­bi­ous for­eign pol­icy record and the Soleimani as­sas­si­na­tion, lay­ing even par­tial blame on the U.S. pres­i­dent for a crime (or ac­ci­dent) that Iran ap­par­ently com­mit­ted doesn’t meet the min­i­mum re­quire­ments of fair­ness or logic.

Con­sider: Ukraine In­ter­na­tional Air­lines Flight PS752 took off from

Tehran with 82 Ira­ni­ans on board. By what strain of logic would killing so many of one’s own cit­i­zens hurt an­other na­tion? No doubt, Iran would love to “pro­vide vengeance,” but Ira­nian of­fi­cials an­nounced early on that they would seek reprisal against the United States by strik­ing mil­i­tary tar­gets. Thus, this week, just hours be­fore the air­liner ex­ploded midair, Iran fired more than a dozen short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles at Iraqi mil­i­tary bases that housed U.S. troops.

By the logic of those try­ing to sad­dle Trump with blame, th­ese two events would have had to be co­or­di­nated strikes for the pur­pose of im­pugn­ing Trump. But it would have been a mighty gam­ble for Tehran to pre­sume that the world would re­act in syn­chrony against Trump rather than Iran. Fur­ther­more, what sense would there be to con­duct mil­i­tary strikes that caused no ca­su­al­ties and an­other that killed 176 civil­ians?

Al­most as if chore­ographed, re­ac­tion to Flight PS752 has re­fo­cused at­ten­tion on the ra­tio­nale be­hind Soleimani’s killing that he pre­sented an “im­mi­nent dan­ger” to Amer­i­cans. Repub­li­can Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) both have said they heard nothing to sup­port the “im­mi­nent” claim dur­ing a clas­si­fied meet­ing to ex­plain what hap­pened. Lee went fur­ther, say­ing it was the “worst” brief­ing on a mil­i­tary is­sue he had at­tended dur­ing his nine years in the Se­nate. Lee and Paul may have a le­git­i­mate point, one echoed by some Democrats, but their con­cerns are a dis­trac­tion from what hap­pened early Wed­nes­day morn­ing in the skies above Tehran.

Other the­o­ries about the plane crash in­clude that it was merely a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent or that the air­liner was felled be­cause of a faulty en­gine. But video ob­tained and ver­i­fied by the New York Times showed the mo­ment of im­pact by what ap­pears to be a ground­fired mis­sile just min­utes af­ter the plane took off. As­sum­ing enough ev­i­dence re­mains, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion may pro­vide an an­swer to what hap­pened.

In the mean­time, pend­ing facts — and re­spect­ful of vic­tims and griev­ing fam­i­lies — spec­u­la­tion and fin­ger-point­ing are no help to any­one. And, though Trump un­ques­tion­ably has ex­ac­er­bated ten­sions in the Mid­dle East by killing Soleimani, his fin­ger, fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, wasn’t on the but­ton — this time.

KATH­LEEN PARKER

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.