When Bad Things Are Caused by Good Nations

The event defied precedent. The U.S. Navy blew 290 people out of the sky -- victims whose only offense was the understandable desire to fly from Iran to Dubai. Something had gone monstrously awry, yet Americans seemed to respond almost grudgingly: there were guilt-stricken voices, yes, but they were distressingly few, and there was almost no compelling sense of shame. What the nation offered in the face of inadvertent tragedy was dry, formulaic expressions of official regret, the diplomatic equivalent of preprinted condolence cards.

The captain of the Vincennes, Will Rogers III, came closest to genuine emotion when he began a...

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