Shoot First, Question Now

Turkey invoked its right as a NATO member to have the alliance convene an emergency meeting on June 26 to judge whether Syria’s shootdown of a Turkish military jet is sufficient to trigger allied military response. Syrian forces downed a Turkish RF-4 Phantom in international waters on June 22, 13 miles off the Syrian coast, announced Turkey’s foreign ministry June 24. The pilot and copilot were still missing as of June 25. “This aggressive act, which runs against all the principles of good faith and good neighborliness, is a flagrant and grave violation of international law,” states the foreign ministry release. Instead of scrambling fighters to intercept the Phantom, Syrian air defenses shot the aircraft down “without any warning,” breaching peacetime protocol, stressed the Turks. The shootdown is “yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities’ callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security,” said State Secretary Hillary Clinton in a statement June 24. (See also NATO release.)