Thursday July 17 will go down in history as one of terrible tragedy.
The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 after a BUK missile launcher struck it over Ukraine took the lives of 298 innocent people.
All the evidence available suggests that pro-Russian separtists in Eastern Ukraine were responsible. Secretary of State John Kerry argued this point on all five of the major Sunday talk shows yesterday.
“We have enormous input about this that points fingers,” Kerry told CNN’s State of the Union. “It is pretty clear that this was a system from Russia, transferred to separatists. We know with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point of time.”
And on the same day, Israel began its invasion of Gaza. As of this writing, over 300 Palestinians have lost their lives and 13 Israeli soldiers have died.
To be sure, both of these events – no matter how different – are difficult to digest. Whenever there is loss of life, there is tremendous sadness associated with it.
But with all the talk about the MH17 crash and the Israeli invasion, commentators and, indeed, politicians, are missing a larger point: The US is not standing up for its allies.
In the case of Israel, President Obama made his second phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three days not to offer his unequivocal support, but to criticize Israel for overreaching. Obama told Netanyahu that Kerry will travel to Cairo to press for an immediate cease fire.
What’s more, John Kerry defended Israel’s right to take action on the Sunday talk shows, but also made critical comments privately that were captured by Fox News on a live microphone. Chris Wallace, the Fox interviewer, confronted Kerry with a tape of the remarks during his appearance wherein Kerry is heard saying, “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation…We’ve got to get over there.”
Kerry’s ironic expression of frustration at the deaths of Palestinian civilians highlights a US administration that is not standing shoulder to shoulder with one of our strongest allies.
I am in no way arguing that civilian deaths aren’t frustrating – they are. But at a time like this, our leadership needs to be tougher and avoid “ironic” comments that hurt our image and challenge the foundation of our relationship with Israel.
And as for the MH17 crash, in the wake of the overwhelming evidence Kerry cited himself, Obama has failed to hold Russia and Putin accountable for its part in facilitating the crash.
Obama and Kerry want Russia to join the effort to ensure that there is a full-fledged investigation into the crash, but they can’t possibly think that Putin will do any such thing. He’s been playing games with Ukraine since the protests broke out last Fall.
Russia under Putin has become a threat – regional and global. In response, the Obama administration has treated Putin as a rational interlocutor who could serve as a useful go-between in Syria, Iran and now Ukraine.
Putin can’t. Or, rather, Putin won’t.