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K. A. L. 007 and the Superpowers

By (author) Alexander Dallin
Format: Hardback
Publisher: University of California Press, Berkerley, United States
Published: 30th Apr 1985
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 506g
ISBN-10: 0520055152
ISBN-13: 9780520055155
Barcode No: 9780520055155

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Kirkus US
"Consider the counterarguments," advises Dallin regularly, "which are at least equally persuasive." This is a tight, methodical, attention-gripping attempt to narrow-down the possible explanations - accident? bravado or short-cut? covert anti-Soviet mission? - for the Korean Air Lines 007 overflight of Soviet far-eastern territory in September 1983. Dallin also poses a second question, with perhaps more far-reaching implications: why did the Soviets shoot down the plane? The 007 incident is first reviewed: as it occurred, minute-by-minute; the two sides' reaction; what subsequently came to be known. Then Dallin examines the various hypotheses - concluding that 1) simultaneous instrument malfunction was possible but highly unlikely - the 007 crew probably did not go 400 miles off course by accident; 2) the crew was not likely to have taken a suicidal risk to pare fuel and other costs (not even if, as rumored, there were kickbacks for such savings); 3) the plane was probably not on a US espionage mission because a) the crew would have realized the risk, and b) the US had other means of surveillance. The possibility most difficult to rule out, as Dallin sees it, is that the US was indeed testing Soviet response to far-eastern aerial penetration: the 007 would have been at far less risk (nothing could have been proven if it had been forced down, as an off-course KAL plane was in 1978); the Soviets had been engaged in a military buildup in the area. But, Dallin stresses, logic is not proof. As regards Soviet behavior, he states as axiomatic that "destruction of KAL 007 was neither an error nor an accident." The Soviets didn't much care whether the plane was a commercial airliner or not - given their hyper-sensitivity to border penetration and their need (heightened by the 1978 KAL incident) to demonstrate control: "The alternatives were either letting it get away [which 007 was about to do] or killing it. The choice was clear." From this, Dallin draws some lessons for the US - in terms of immediate response, analysis, and policy. "A fascinating puzzle," for certain - presented with probity, acumen, and finesse. (Kirkus Reviews)