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.