How Reagan Handled A Situation Like This

Andrew Rudalevige draws parallels between the MH17 tragedy and the USSR shooting down a Korean Airlines plane in 1983. Reagan’s reaction to it:

Reagan demanded an apology to the world and continued a number of sanctions — but he decided not to end grain sales to the USSR or to suspend arms control talks. George Will argued that “the administration is pathetic…. We didn’t elect a dictionary. We elected a President and it’s time for him to act.”  The Manchester Union-Leader editorialized that “if someone had told us three years ago that the Russians could blow a civilian airliner out of the skies – and not face one whit of retaliation from a Ronald Reagan administration, we would have called that crazy. It is crazy. It is insane. It is exactly what happened.”

Even at the height of the Cold War, however — and keeping in mind that the flight had departed from the U.S., with dozens of American passengers, including a sitting member of Congress – Reagan told a National Security Meeting that “we’ve got to protect against overreaction. Vengeance isn’t the name of the game.”