Under a cloak of plausible deniability, Iran has argued that its downing of Ukrainian Flight 752 over Tehran was both ‘accidental’ and ‘caused’ by Trump’s ordering the killing of Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani. Indeed, many argue that this tragedy would never have happened “if President Donald Trump had not decided to kill that Iranian general.”
While this may indeed be so, it is not proof of causality. ‘Motivation’ alone is not a ‘cause’. Iran could have chosen to respond in a myriad of different ways. To argue that Trump’s decision ‘caused’ the downing of Flight 752 is defective logic. For Iran, It is a narrative constructed to avoid taking direct responsibility for its unconscionable action.
Whether in physics or in the realm of human behavior, ‘causes’ are not metaphysical realities; they are an epistemological phenomenon. In other words, by assigning a ‘cause’ to a specific consequence, we are in reality constructing a narrative for some given purpose or objective. In this case, that purpose consists of assigning moral responsibility to some individual, group or government in the pursuit of justice.
Therefore the real question that bears asking is this: Were the actions of Iran justifiable given the circumstances? The correct answer depends upon the standards of one’s judgement.
“Qassem Soleimani has taught us that death is the beginning of life, not the end of life,” noted a commentary in the Globe and Mail. Indeed, Iran has repeatedly called for the death of America and for the obliteration of Israel. If ‘death’ is to be accepted as a standard of morality, then one could argue that Iran’s pursuit of global terrorism and murder is justifiable. However, this is irrational, contradictory, and evil.
“Morality pertains only to the sphere of man’s free will – only to those actions which are open to his choice,” noted philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand. “Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard which is proper to man – in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.”
When one contrasts the death cult that motivates the actions of the Iranian regime with America’s actions based on its philosophy of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ it is clear that U.S. President Donald Trump has acted justly. It is also clear that it is solely the government of Iran that is morally culpable for the downing of Flight 752.
How this situation can justly be resolved remains to be seen. But arguing about the immediate ‘causes’ of the most recent events in a long chain of events is counter-productive.
Sadly, it appears that we will never know all the facts or absolute truth about the immediate ‘cause’ of Iran’s actions following the killing of Qassem Soleimani. Therefore, the best one can do is to create the long-term narrative describing a plausible truth that is closest to being Just Right – and respond accordingly.
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