On September 1, 1983 a Korean commercial airliner, Flight KAL007, was shot down by a Soviet fighter pilot. Although the airliner had strayed into Soviet airspace, the military aircraft that tracked the airliner for over an hour, shot it down while the craft was in international airspace. All 269 people were killed. One of the murdered was a United States Congressman, Larry McDonald. Ronald Reagan, that icon of a strong America, was President.
Apart from some saber-rattling, Reagan did nothing: On September 5, 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the shooting down of the airplane as the “Korean airline massacre”, a “crime against humanity [that] must never be forgotten” and an “act of barbarism… [and] inhuman brutality” Yawn.
The Soviets first denied everything for about a week. Then they admitted it. Then interfered with any search and rescue, even though the airliner made a controlled descent and indications were that there could be survivors.
In 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin disclosed five top-secret memos dating from a few weeks after the downing of KAL 007 in 1983. The memos contained Soviet communications (from KGB Chief Viktor Chebrikov and Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov to General Secretary Yury Andropov) that indicated that they knew the location of KAL 007’s wreckage while they were simulating a search and harassing the American Navy; they had found the sought-after cockpit voice recorder on October 20, 1983 (50 days after the incident), and had decided to keep this knowledge secret, the reason being that the tapes could not unequivocally support their firmly held view that KAL 007’s flight to Soviet territory was a deliberately planned intelligence mission.
Reagan did nothing. No repercussions. Nada. Zilch. Oh, wait. I forgot. Reagan did declare that GPS would be available to civilians for free, you know, to prevent this kind of thing in the future.
A sitting US Congressman was just killed by another country’s government. Who exactly do you have to kill around here to start a war? There was only the kind of outrage you hear in a bar after too many drinks. “I wish he’d of said that to me.” Yeah. Right.
Clearly, one of Ronald Reagan’s biggest moral blunders. Especially if you don’t count creating the Department of Education.
But, hey, enough of that. It is great to be back in Delaware.
Not so for Barack Obama. He’s had so many moral blunders, it’s like who’s counting anymore!
On July 17, 2014, a surface to air missile, also originating from the former Soviet Union, shot down another commercial airliner, killing everyone on board.
In what is likely the only Reaganesque moment of Obama’s presidency, he did his best imitation of Ronald Reagan at his worst:
President Barack Obama provoked fury in the U.S. on Thursday by casually devoting less than a minute to the deaths of 295 people aboard a Malaysian airliner, as he began an often jokey 16-minute speech about the need to expand America’s transportation infrastructure.
An earlier Reuters report claimed that it was feared that as many as 23 U.S. citizens had perished.
Obama declared in Wilmington, Delaware that ‘it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy,’ but not before enthusiastically declaring that ‘it is wonderful to be back in Delaware.’