- - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When the Malaysian airliner was shot down, millions of Americans dropped what they were doing to follow the news minute by minute. Well, with one notable exception. President Obama continued with his political fundraising tour.

Aides suggest the president got belated reports in between handshakes and cocktails, but that’s not good enough. He should have taken command of the situation. There were options and plans to consider. He should have contacted the State Department and the CIA.

Since it was initially obvious who was responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Mr. Obama should have used his phone to implement a timely response. Since international law conferred primary responsibility for the crash site on the Ukrainian government and Malaysian Airlines, Mr. Obama should have proposed that they invite the United States and other affected nations to immediately secure the crash site and commence the investigation.

Mr. Obama might have called the heads of state of every nation with victims aboard to enlist support for a combined military team to travel to Ukraine to preserve the crime zone. He could have announced to the world and made clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that this force would not be entering Ukraine to participate in the conflict, but solely to act as a humanitarian mission to secure the site and begin the investigation under legal authority. Rather than wait for Mr. Putin’s predictable objection, Mr. Obama should have had the troops airborne as he and the Russian leader spoke.

Mr. Obama should then have demanded that Mr. Putin order the separatists to step down and declare that any attack on the international team would be considered a hostile action. He should have announced that we would deploy whatever means were necessary to protect the investigators.

I think that neither Mr. Putin nor the separatists would have dared attack the international investigators, and we would have secured the crash site for a truly honest investigation. We very likely would have effected a cease-fire during the time of the investigation, which could have taken months.

Instead, all we get from Mr. Obama is the now-familiar empty rhetoric, promises no longer believable and ineffective actions.

LARRY HORIST

Boca Raton, Fla.

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