Skip to content
  • The downing of MH17: A new precedent for the world’s battlefields

    The Atlantic - 07/17/2014

    Given that MH17 was reportedly flying at 33,000 feet when it was shot down, such an attack would indeed represent a major feat for a nonstate actor. There are historical precedents for civilian aircraft being shot down by missiles, but one reason it’s a relatively rare occurrence is that the necessary capabilities tend to be under the control of governments. “There aren’t that many insurgent groups that have that kind of a capability,” says Max Abrahms, a terrorism specialist and professor of political science at Northeastern University.

    “But in this case, it actually makes sense” that an insurgent group shot down the plane, he says. States may as a general rule have better weapons than insurgent groups, but “really that power asymmetry goes out the window when the nonstate actor has strong backing from a government. Particularly from a government as weaponized as Russia.”

  • Cookies on Northeastern sites

    This website uses cookies and similar technologies to understand your use of our website and give you a better experience. By continuing to use the site or closing this banner without changing your cookie settings, you agree to our use of cookies and other technologies. To find out more about our use of cookies and how to change your settings, please go to our Privacy Statement.