Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a recent CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria that Russian President Vladimir Putin bears at least some responsibility for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. “I think if there were any doubt it should be gone by now, that Vladimir Putin, certainly indirectly—thorough his support of the insurgents in eastern Ukraine and the supply of advanced weapons and, frankly, the presence of Russian Special Forces and Intelligence agents—bears responsibility for what happened.” Even without too much parsing, her words look more than just a statement, they hold profound implications. They point to the idea that indirect responsibility is valid. Wouldn’t that mean that manufacturers, suppliers, and other intermediaries in the chain of any weapons of war and destruction bear responsibility too? Jan Oberg of Sweden’s Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research thinks so and highlighted it in one of his TFF Press Info communications.
It’s quite possible Hillary Clinton didn’t mean to go so far when she declared Putin indirectly responsible. Whether she meant to draw attention to the implications or not, the statement would have to imply that the U.S. holds responsibility when it supplies arms to groups such as the Syrian rebels or the Israeli military. It’s quite doubtful Mrs. Clinton meant to engage in a philosophical discourse on the morality of the war machinery, but one has to be grateful she did. It pushes us into pondering it.