Editorial: Forever Wars Make Forever Victims

The Tragedy of Flight 752 in Iran Is a By-Product of the Horrors of War

  • Graphic Carl Bindman

On Jan. 8, all 176 people on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 were killed after the plane crashed shortly after leaving Tehran, Iran’s capital.

While the crash was initially deemed a mechanical error, it became clear that the plane had actually been accidentally shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.

Iran had shot missiles earlier in the day towards American bases, causing no casualties but serving as a retaliation toward the United States. A drone strike on Jan. 3 had killed 10, including Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global that the 57 Canadians killed in the incident would be home with their families if not for the escalating tensions in the region, a sentiment we share.

Our goal here isn’t to pile onto a specific government or country. Instead, it’s the needless loss of life caused by escalating tensions that resulted in violence that we’re admonishing. The death of innocents isn’t just an unfortunate accident during armed conflicts, it’s a by-product of the whole process.

Wars create all sorts of victims, many of whom have done nothing wrong except being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We shouldn’t care that this happened just because Canadians died, as tragic as that is.

It’s frustrating to endure the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies watching world powers treat military aggression like a strategic video game. The shooting down of Flight 752 is a reminder that so-called calculated risks lead to unintended consequences, sometimes unimaginable ones.

Nearly 20 years ago, Canada resisted pressure to follow many of its allies, led by a bellicose USA, into the quagmire of the Iraq war.

Whether the shock of what happened on Jan. 8 will ultimately quell tensions or exacerbate them remains to be seen, but the dangers of brinkmanship are already clear.

This week, President Trump tweeted that “[t]housands have already been killed or imprisoned by [Iran], and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching.”

The delusion that the world’s eyes are secondary to those of the USA has precipitated chaos and heartache and runs much deeper than one rogue presidency. It is long beyond time to recognize that the world can only weather the aggression of the powerful and far-removed when we accept that all life is valuable, even if it isn’t white and Western.

This means, to begin with, shunning a cavalier attitude toward casualties of far-off aggression—or conflicts that might appear far off, until they hit so close to home.

We urge our own government and those around the world to absorb the lessons of history and of the present day and to nurture and cultivate sustainable peace.

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