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American senator (and former unsuccessful presidential candidate) John McCain’s urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to ban Russian president Vladimir Putin from attending November’s G20 summit in Brisbane smacks of the hypocrisy and double standards that seem to characterise America’s policy toward the rest of the world.
McCain – a former US Navy pilot who was shot down while on a bombing mission over Hanoi and spent several years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, believes that President Putin’s alleged involvement in July 17’s MH17 tragedy (where a Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 298 passengers and crew (including 80 children) was shot down over Ukrainian airspace by a Russian – made Buk surface to air missile) should warrant the Russian leader being treated as an ‘international pariah’.
McCain seems to have conveniently forgotton the incident of Iranian Airlines Flight 655, a civilian passenger airliner carrying 290 civilians (including 66 children) which was shot down over the Persian Gulf on July 3rd 1988 by the US Navy ship USS Vincennes. Under the command of US Navy captain Will Rogers III, the Vincennes was actually inside Iranian territorial waters at the time – and the civilian airliner was flying in Iranian airspace. The Vincennes utilised a salvo of two SM-2MR missiles (medium range surface to air missiles that were developed for the US Navy and manufactured by Raytheon, an American company that is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles) to shoot down the airliner
Captain Rogers, a man with a reputation for a “gung-ho” attitude, was personally criticized for being overly aggressive by Commander David Carlson, commanding officer of the USS Sides – another US Navy ship that that was in the area and witness to the incident. In the words of Comamnder Carlson, the downing of Iran Air 655 marked the “horrifying climax to Capt. Rogers’ aggressiveness, first seen four weeks ago”.
The United States did express regret for the loss of innocent life but never apologised to the Iranian government. In fact, President Ronald Reagan, in a statement released shortly after the attack, called the shooting down of Flight 655 by the crew of the Vincennes a “proper defensive action.”
Interestingly, in 1990,the man who shot down the civilian airliner, Captain Rogers, was decorated with the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer of the Vincennes“. Of course, no mention was made in his citation of his shooting down of Iran Air 655!
The startling similarities between the downing of these two civilian airlines with the terrible loss of innocent lives – one over Iranian airspace in 1988 and the other over Ukrainian airspace in 2014 – is such that intelligent observers cannot but ask: what is the difference between the shooting down of a civilian airliner using Russian-made Buk missiles – and the shooting down of a civilian airliner using US made SM-2MR missiles by US Navy personnel operating from a US Navy ship?