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Almost every day brings news of awful crimes, but some are so heinous, so horrendous and malicious, that they dwarf all else. One of those rare events took place on July 17, when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.

The Guardian of Virtue in the White House denounced it as an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” which happened “because of Russian support.” His UN Ambassador thundered that “when 298 civilians are killed” in the “horrific downing” of a civilian plane, “we must stop at nothing to determine who is responsible and to bring them to justice.” She also called on Putin to end his shameful efforts to evade his very clear responsibility.

True, the “irritating little man” with the “ratlike face” (Timothy Garton Ash) had called for an independent investigation, but that could only have been because of sanctions from the one country courageous enough to impose them, the United States, while Europeans cower in fear.

On CNN, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor assured the world that the irritating little man “is clearly responsible … for the shoot down of this airliner.” For weeks, lead stories reported the anguish of the families, details of the lives of the murdered victims, the international efforts to claim the bodies, the fury over the horrific crime that “stunned the world,” as the press reports daily in grisly detail.

Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator, instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf…