Bad Luck, and Lots Of It
Sometimes what looks terrible misfortune is simply what it seems -- sheer bad luck. In the horrifying plane crash in western Russia that just killed some of Poland's top officials, including President Lech Kaczynski, there is no sign at this stage of foul play. Reports so far are focusing on pilot error, fog, and the use of a Soviet-built Tupolev-154 for the presidential transport (Fox provides a list of Tupolev-154 crashes over the past 16 years).
But these sure do seem to be unlucky times for America's allies, even as President Barack Obama goes into a fizz of activity advertised by the White House as making the world safer -- jetting to Prague to sign a nuclear reduction deal with the Russians, hosting a nuclear summit next week in Washington, and producing a new "nuclear posture" in which the theory seems to be that if America preemptively disarms itself, we'll all be more secure.
Meanwhile, a violent uprising has just ousted the president of Kyrgyzstan, which hosts the Manas military base (well, it used to be called an "air base" but these days it's called a "transit center")-- chief transit point for U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. Whether this plays into Moscow's hands is still a matter of debate, but there's no question that it has disrupted operations at Manas, where U.S. troop flights have been indefinitely suspended.
This follows the March 26 sinking of a South Korean frigate, the Cheonan, which -- as North Korea expert Andrei Lankov describes in a recent NY Times Op-ed -- was patrolling coastal waters near a disputed border with North Korea, when its stern was ripped away by an explosion. The warship sank; 46 South Korean sailors died. Despite signs suggesting the cause was a mine or a torpedo, the South Korean government has declined to confront North Korea, warning against jumping to conclusions.