A Statement on Flight 007

Like many of you, I have watched with growing concern the story of the downed Korean airliner that has dominated the news these past few weeks. The Soviet attack on the jetliner was shocking and painful enough, but the official U.S. response has only compounded the tragedy. We have listened in vain for a sane voice and perspective to be brought to these sad events. Instead, the air has been filled with words that have generated much more heat than light.

At such a time one longs for a president who is more a leader than an ideologue. If we had such a president, we might have heard a statement something like this ...

"Today we have received the tragic news of the downing of south Korean airlines flight 007 and the death of all 269 passengers aboard. The ill-fated jetliner was en route from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul, South Korea, and apparently strayed off course, penetrating Soviet airspace near the Sakhalin Island. After being tracked by Soviet air defense for two-and-a-half hours, flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter plane using a heat-seeking missile that utterly destroyed the plane and all the people on board.

"We are filled with a deep sense of grief and outrage over this inexplicable act of violence. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the families and friends of those who have become the latest victims of aggressive military violence.

"Thus far the Soviet Union has not provided the full facts and an adequate explanation of this horrible event. Many questions remain. Chief among them is the question—why was this civilian airliner shot down? Did Soviet air defense know that this plane was a civilian jetliner with passengers aboard? And if not, why not?

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