Malaysian flight MH 17 shot down.

First, my sympathy for the victims of this tragedy. It should not have happened, and now the blame game will start. For those who have read any of my fiction, you will guess that I have two ways of approaching a problem like this: first, use logic, and second, put yourself in the position of the person you blame, just to make sure that he is blameworthy. The question then is, what can we learn from this tragedy by doing that?
The first thing we can be fairly sure of is that this aircraft was brought down by a surface to air missile, probably either a Buk SA 11 or a BUK SA 17, with the former more likely. These are Russian-made systems, so they came from Russia. So we blame Russia? Just a minute. These systems were also inherited by Ukraine at the break-up of the old USSR, they are more suitable for using at a border (i.e. first shots) so Ukraine deployed a number of them along the Ukraine/Russia border, which happens to be territory taken over by the rebels. They may well be technically Ukrainian missiles.
Who would fire it? My guess is it is almost certainly from the Ukrainian rebels. The only other possibilities are Russian or Ukrainian forces, but neither of those options makes sense. Both have nothing to gain and an awful lot to lose, and worse still, both have the ability to tell it is a civilian aircraft, and both can tell it is harmless to them.
Why would the rebels shoot down such a plane? First, assume it is an SA 11, which is a mobile launcher with relatively primitive radar. The correct way to use such equipment if you do not have air control is to move to a site, light up the radar, select a target (or don’t), shoot (or don’t) turn off the radar, and MOVE. Once that radar is lit up, YOU become a target for enemy anti-missile launcher defences, and the last thing you want to do is to give yourself a radar channel to attract enemy missiles. Now, put yourself in the position of whoever had this missile. Your home city has been bombed, maybe someone you know has been killed or injured, you are angry, you light up, you see a jet heading to Donetsk, you have no means of determining what it is, but if it is close to the city, you do not have much time. If you have a timetable of expected civilian flights, there should be none then, because unfortunately, MH 17 was half an hour late. You shoot.
So, who is to blame here? I believe the air traffic controllers, and to some extent, the airline. It would have been a simple matter to divert the fight so it did not cross that territory, and there is no reason to believe the relevant governments would not have accommodated a change of course. They should not put aircraft over a war zone. As another example, suppose you have to walk from A to B, and half-way there, you find your path crosses a live-fire rifle range. Now, you could walk across, on the basis that the shooters will see you are a human, and won’t fire. But would you risk it? Me, I would divert and walk around the back. What do you think?


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