On Taking Responsibility For Downing A Passenger Jet


Despite what some are suggesting, there is little direct equivalency between the inadvertent Iranian shoot-down of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 earlier this week, and the American shoot-down of Iranian Air Flight 655 in 1983.

For that to be true, the Iranians would have to not only have obstinately refused to apologize for their actions, but also awarded their equivalent to the Legion of Merit decoration to the Iranian military unit responsible.

I’m not kidding. That’s exactly what happened.

In the aftermath of that incident, the Americans did not remove the officer responsible from command, even despite the observations of a number of other US Naval personnel about his aggressive shortcomings which lead directly to the tragedy.

Instead, Captain William C. Rogers III was bestowed with just such a medal “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer” of the vessel which had brought down the Iranian passenger jet, specifically for the time-period in which the outrage had occurred.

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The insults and the immaturity did not end there. Washington pointedly refused to apologize or even really admit culpability (indeed, even going so far in its official analysis as attempting to suggest that the outcome had been partially Iran’s own fault for allowing civilian aircraft to fly along “a normal commercial air flight plan profile, in the assigned airway” which happened to be proximate to a US Navy vessel violating Iranian territorial waters); with George H.W. Bush arguably making *not* apologizing a campaign theme for his 1988 Presidential run.

It took another eight years, and a long-running International Court of Justice suit for the Americans to reach a settlement with Iran which pointedly, again, mandated no apology – although did afford a multi-million dollar settlement to attempt to bring the matter to a close.

Now, you contrast this with the Iranian response to the downing of the Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday. Its immediate reaction had been to declare a Day of Mourning for the victims; and while there had been two days of uncertainty and downplaying of potential culpability (during which time, again to their credit, the Iranians had invited Ukrainian and other foreign personnel to help investigate the cause of the crash), today’s statements from the Iranian Government and Armed Forces have been anything but.

The Iranians have shouldered their share of the burden of responsibility for the “unforgivable mistake” [as President Rouhani called it] of the shoot-down; and instead of talk of medals for the personnel involved, the Iranian military have promised that they shall be held “accountable”, in a judicial setting.

That vital “A-word”, “Apologies”, has also issued forth from their Government – clearly and unequivocally.

All within the span of two to three days, rather than being left hanging for a period of just under a decade.

Now, it almost goes without saying that none of this brings anybody back from the dead; and that it would be hugely preferable for none of this to have ever occurred.

Pointing out how much worse it could have been (if, for instance, the Iranians had followed the “American model” in the wake of this tragedy) does not really make circumstances any better.

Yet without intending to unduly politicize – or, worse, seek to ‘capitalize’ upon – a senseless loss of life, it seems to me that in a period wherein month-in and month-out, we have seen seemingly endless attempts to portray the Iranians as being frothing-at-the-mouth fundamentalist inhuman monsters … responses such as these show not only a common humanity and empathy – but that (especially when compared to their leading detractors) maybe the Iranians aren’t the irrational ones, after all.


  1. endless attempts to portray the Iranians as being frothing-at-the-mouth fundamentalist inhuman monsters … responses such as these show not only a common humanity and empathy – but that (especially when compared to their leading detractors) maybe the Iranians aren’t the irrational ones, after all.

    Very true.

    Again, responses such as these show… a common humanity and empathy

  2. President Reagan once called the Soviet Union the ” evil empire ”

    The real evil was much closer too home.

    All in the name of god , democracy and capitalism.

    • “The real evil was much closer too home.”
      The utter corruption embedded in the political system and ownership of MSM, the judges, most of congress and certainly the two main parties hierarchy.
      The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world yet condemns other states with lies and well organised and funded propaganda NGOs.
      The mindless redneck attitude of entitlement to pollute the world, ravage its resources everywhere and murder, torture and torment with the CIA infiltrating most government structures and creating organised mahem in so many countries and states.
      A global Mafia paid for by US taxpayers and victim nations robbed of peace.

  3. It goes without saying, that destroying innocent people in an attack on a airliner is reprehensible…

    but I don’t see Trump or anyone else in government, starting a war on the greed and incompetence of corporate America, to highlight the 346 deaths from Boeing’s equipment flaws recently when 2 planes crashed.

    The 1997 merger that paved the way for the Boeing 737 Max crisis

    Where is the outcry from government about Boeing’s business practises and incompetence that resulted in 2 plane accidents…

    to make matters worse, the Boeing CEO gets US 62 million in salary when he leaves after the deaths…

    “Boeing’s outgoing chief executive, who was terminated last month for his handling of the 737 Max crisis, will exit the company with more than US$62 million (NZ$93.4 million).”

    “Boeing announced the details of Muilenburg’s exit package on the same day Spirit AeroSystems, one of the largest suppliers of the 737 Max, sent layoff notices to roughly 2800 employees at its Wichita plant, citing “ongoing uncertainty” involving Boeing’s 737 Max jet, airplane parts supplier.”

    “Regulators have concluded that equipment flaws played a role in a pair of deadly plane crashes of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia.”


    Bit like the Global Financial Crisis and taxpayers bailing out the banks, which they were also rewarded for!

    • Excellent points here saveNZ.

      As far as Boeing and the American government are concerned these innocent people were expendable.

      That is the doctrine of corporate neo liberalism in all its forms.

      Pike river is a recent example and no one should forget that Key and his henchman were going too concrete over the mine forever sealing its workers and evidence of any wrong doing.

      • @ Most, The new shareholders of Pike River overwhelmingly voted to NOT investigate paying the Pike victims families… inspite of a judges ruling they should be paid compensation. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/shareholders-ditch-nz-mine-disaster-payout

        Massive lack of corporate accountability that is increasing around the world and shafting victims under legal rules put into law by the powerful and defended by lawyers to stay that way. Nothing to see here, by politicians who get their donations and lobbyists write the rules.

        The Boeing CEO gets a 62 million payoff, that oversaw the developments that led to bean counters being able to influence engineering until the planes are not fit for purpose and 346 people dead. Meanwhile, the CEO is rewarded by 62 million payoff.

        In NZ,

        The Pike River families get nothing after 29 workers killed in a mine that was also known to be extremely dangerous and no attempt was made to rescue the workers. The only Pike River survivors walked out themselves and did their own alerts to the disaster!

        Other nations at least make an attempt to rescue people in mines but in NZ our health and safety is so dysfunctional that companies are allowed to have unsafe conditions and nothing at the employees premise to help the rescue! Crazy.

        Then the pretence of doing something. Aka after the Pike river enquiry, somehow the lawyers have now made a teachers and SME more responsible but big business less. Due to the cost and difficulty of prosecution of big business, the police and other’s just don’t bother as now, fairness is less important than cost control.

        This juxtaposition of responsibly onto the middle class, away from big business has huge implications going forward. Under the new health and safety rules, our schools system is on the decline, mental health issues up, as education has moved towards a climate of baby sitters, keeping kids in cotton wool from real life, in case they hurt themselves and the teachers are charged, than educating the next generation. Police are encouraged not to hurt themselves and physical tests to get into police school have apparently been lowered. SME get piled in paper work, that allows big business to thrive even more.

        Meanwhile Pike River corporate lack of responsibility for big business, continues.

        In the case of Carla Neems apparently worksafe did not interview the driver of the vehicle before finding that there was no work safe fine to the company, in spite of no sensors on the trucks and an expired traffic plan, https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/112696703/inquest-hears-that-sensor-may-have-saved-girl-killed-by-rubbish-truck

        For years Ports of Auckland have forced neoliberal changes on their workers, and now yippee they can do what they want to the public, their employees and the city! They won!

        Ports Of Auckland Fined $40,000 For Illegal Actions

        Port Admits Leaking Worker’s Details – NZ Unions

        Ports of Auckland worker dies in hospital from injuries

        Ports of Auckland enters not guilty plea over death of ocean swimmer

        Police will not lay charges over death of ocean swimmer Leslie Gelberger

        Consent approved for 90m mooring extension of Auckland’s Queens Wharf

        (So we can get more cruise ships into NZ, growing 18% per year, btw approx 30,000 gallons of sewerage is flushed into the sea everyday from cruise ships, majority of the trash is dumped overboard or overwhelms local landfill, One cruise ship emits as much exhaust gases as 5,000,000 cars, as the ships get bigger the pollution is getting worse and is widely considered responsible for many deaths!) https://www.caribsurf.net/pollution/cruiseshippollution.html

        Air quality on cruise ship deck ‘worse than world’s most polluted cities’, investigation finds
        ‘Each day a cruise ship emits as much particulate matter as a million cars’

        The dirty corporates have waged a war that essentially they have won to create a climate that excludes responsibility from big dirty employers to their staff, public and the environment, while transferring responsibility onto everybody else in enquiries and then somehow being able to steal public assets!

        Money talks…

        “The impact of an illegally-constructed dam has been described by the Environment Court as “critical” for New Zealand’s most endangered bird but its removal will be a slow process, with the company which built it unlawfully setting most of the terms.”

        This tends to provide huge profits in the short term for the executives and shareholders, however medium term, like Boeing and Pike river, the lack of corporate responsibility eventually turns the business to custard, but nobody at the top is ever held accountable for bad decisions and deaths, and get to keep their huge bonuses of millions of dollars. Meanwhile innocent victims in their wake and the wider community are Shafted. Well worth it! sarcasm!

        Consumers and employees are now expendable when a profit is to be made and this model will continue under our laws. We have a legal model around the world, of allowing the worst polluters to prosper and take over more and more industries.

        • Another neoliberal tool in the tool kit, is funny money to hide reality. Well it gets them good bonuses for management! sarcasm.

          Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, sounds like Ports of Auckland are borrowing $50m to give the $50m in dividends to Auckland Council and lap up how great they are at management. Sarcasm.

          Investment expert questions Ports of Auckland’s dividend source

          Pike River was another financial loss maker. The punt is the bet on the risk.

          So as well as killing people often these businesses don’t actually make profits, but money is created from the speculation of the polluting businesses or in the case of Boeing, running formally good businesses into the ground by idiotic decisions, possibly hidden by funny money which is part of management modern business, apparently.

    • More on what led to the 737 plane crashes…

      ‘Designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys’. Just one of the damning comments made by Boeing employees about the development of the 737 MAX.

      Yet, the CEO who oversaw the cuts that saw the engineers replaced by cost cutters and lobbyists to reduce the safety controls and hide the issues, gets 62 million…


  4. The shoot downs are almost exactly analogous. High military tensions and a series of small mistakes resulting in catastrophy.

    The Americans shot down the Iran Air plane on 3rd July 1988. President Reagan was woken at Camp David at 4.52 am with the news that the navy had shot down an Iranian F14 fighter. By 9.50am it was reported that Iran had lost one of it’s airliners and that there were discrepancies in the American account. By 1.05pm it was confirmed that America had accidentally shot down a civilian plane and Reagan prepared a statement for the world.

    “Following is the text of a statement by President Reagan today at Camp David, Md., on the shooting down of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf. The statement was read at the White House by the President’s spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater.<

    I am saddened to report that it appears that in a proper defensive action by the U.S.S. Vincennes this morning in the Persian Gulf, an Iranian airliner was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz.

    This is a terrible human tragedy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to the passengers, crew and their families.

    The Defense Department will conduct a full investigation. We deeply regret any loss of life. The course of the Iranian civilian airliner was such that it was headed directly for the U.S.S. Vincennes, which was at the time engaged with five Iranian Boghammer boats that had attacked our forces.

    When the aircraft failed to heed repeated warnings, the Vincennes followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.

    The only U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is peace, and this reinforces the need to achieve that goal with all possible speed."

    • Was this the incident where the radio frequency used to broadcast to the commercial plane was for military only and could not have been received by the commercial plane?

      “The only U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is peace” (snigger) Pax Americana – the only good’un is a dead ‘un. ‘Our thoughts and prayers, bullets and missiles…’

      • Sort of. The Vincennes tried to contact the plane seven times on the military channel and three times on the International Air Distress channel and they failed to make contact. Absolutely no fault of the planes crew.

        There’s detailed reports of all the tiny things that went wrong to add up to absolute clusterfuck in the board of enquiry report. Super complicated systems with lots of individuals coordinating under the time pressure of a possible missile launch.

        Not really like shooting down a plane that’s just taken off from your own airport a couple of minutes down the road. That’s another level of stupid.

  5. Are you fkn serious Orangemanbad? The scumbag captain was awarded a medal for this action, he was notorious amongst his pears for wanting to prove his manhood. The buffoon bush stated for years that he would never apologise for america no matter what?Read the reports from all sides of the murderous action, it would have been obvious to a blind deaf mute that the aircraft was an airliner.

  6. Are you fkn serious Orangemanbad? The captain of the Vincennes was notorious among his pears for wanting “to ave a go” prove his manhood. america and bush refused for almost a decade to apologise for this disgusting mass murder. You might like to do a little research on the subject. The general opinion from all sides (accept america) would appear to be that a blind deaf mute would have seen that this was an airliner in a commercial corridor. To add insult to injury this clown was awarded a medal. Only in america?
    The only U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is peace, and this reinforces the need to achieve that goal with all possible speed.”
    I cannot i am afraid even begin to frame a reply to that fantasy???

  7. A new oxymoron has entered the lexicon: American exceptionalism. Americans are at best the same as you or me, at worst they are these money-grubbing serial killers ransacking the world while being accountable to no one. To these worst, war means peace, transparency is obfuscation, truth is for the privileged and pound Stirling is worth a hell of a lot more than a pound of flesh. Home of the brave to these worst means one of the dozens of foreign military bases protected by razor wire from which they can launch attacks on unarmed, local communities. Land of the free in the US manifests as the most surveilled, imprisoned and manipulated population in the world. One American life is equal to one of any other nationality at best (not that this disgusting form of human currency has any place in ethics); at worst one drone pilot or an unhinged official can end all of us.

  8. So the yanks assassinate a top official in Iran, Iran counters and now more sanctions are getting placed on Iran?
    Shouldnt the US be removed from the UN Security Council instead?
    I mean they are just war mongers, not peace keepers and its time they were held account for their actions by the rest of the world!

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