I try to steer away from writing about the same subject two weeks in a row, but I don’t always succeed. This is one of those weeks.
Nine days ago, President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of a highly connected Iranian General with known terrorist capabilities. Whether or not it was the right thing to do is at this point, although highly controversial, somewhat academic. It has happened. People will debate the legality, the appropriateness and the actual incentive for this for years to come. It won’t change a thing.
A few days later, Iran retaliated. Most people and most governments knew that they would. Two American military bases in Iraq were attacked by the Iranians. It appeared to be a measured response and one cannot help but wonder if it was prearranged through diplomatic channels, as the actual damage was minimal, without a single death. It looked like everyone, on both sides, were prepared to lower the temperature in an attempt to prevent an escalation of hostilities.
Then all Hell broke loose.
On January 8, Flight PS752, bound for Ukraine, was blown out of the sky very shortly after it left the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. One hundred and seventy-six people were killed, 57 of whom were Canadian citizens and another 81 who were living in Canada, many of them international students.
There is little, if any, doubt that the Iranians shot this plane down. At first, they admitted it, saying that it happened “unintentionally”, and later denied they had anything to do with it and cited the cause as human error. I have no idea what their current position is, and I really don’t give a damn.
Unless the video that captured this attack is fake, Flight PS752 was shot down by a missile and the only ones flying around the Middle East at the time were Iranian. It is much too easy to call it an accident and it is an insult to the dead and their families to call these victims collateral damage. If the loss of this plane was not an act of war, it was clearly the result of war-like measures and people need to be held accountable for that.
Let’s start with Donald Trump. Is he directly responsible for the loss of so many lives that were taken when this plane was destroyed? No. Is he indirectly responsible? Probably so. In my view, it is very unlikely that this plane, heading to Ukraine, would have been shot out of the sky had Qassem Soleimani not been killed by the Americans a few days earlier. Locked and loaded missiles do not fly around Tehran on a routine basis.
Consequently, whether or not his ardent supporters want to acknowledge it, Donald Trump played a role in the death of 176 innocent individuals. That cannot be dismissed as collateral damage. It is a tragedy that should never have happened, and everyone involved has blood on their hands. Donald Trump has to live with that and the rest of us should never forget it.
As for the Iranian Government and the military they control, they must stop messing with indisputable facts and take primary responsibility for this tragedy. We will likely never know for sure if this was an act of terrorism camouflaged as something else in order to escape retaliation. Iran, after all, is known as a terrorist state. I must admit some surprise at how much of the world seems ready to write this off as an unfortunate accident. What we do know for certain, however, is that an Iranian missile, purchased from Russia, shot this plane down. That in itself is inexcusable under any and all circumstances and calls for real accountability and effective sanctions.
Canada has been particularly hit by the tragedy of Flight PS752. Here is what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:
“I am, of course, outraged and furious that families across this country that are grieving their loved ones, that the Iranian-Canadian community is suffering so greatly, that all Canadians are shocked and appalled by this senseless loss of life.”
That was an appropriate and measured response in my view. With so many people living in Canada dying on that flight, it also puts an increased burden on President Trump to provide real evidence that there was clear and present danger to Americans when a decision was made to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, the event that started all of this. The Prime Minister should insist on this, just as he insists on full accountability from Iran. Canadians deserve no less.
On a closing note, I also am somewhat surprised that although the Prime Minister notes the shock of all Canadians for this tragedy, there is not a lot of evidence of this on social media. Of course, there is some, but to me it does not meet the level of many other concerns raised on social media that fall far below the reality and implications of this unnecessary tragedy. I can think of few instances in recent decades where so many citizens and people living in Canada have been senselessly wiped out. My hope against hope is that a lack of apparent outrage and indifference is not because the vast majority of these people are of Iranian decent. They are still Canadian citizens or people who have chosen to live, work and study here.
To care less about them because of their heritage or to be less angry and demanding for accountability and retribution when Canada has every right and indeed a heavy responsibility to do so would be perhaps the greatest tragedy of all.
Please tell me it ain’t so.
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