Earlier this morning, John covered the news that Iran had finally admitted to shooting down that Boeing 737 after three days of denials and finger-pointing. I had originally tried to give them the benefit of the doubt because it just seemed like such a bloody stupid thing to do, particularly in the middle of an attack on U.S. forces in Iraq. But once the videos of the rocket striking the plane emerged, it became pretty obvious.

One question John asked was whether the Iranian government knew they’d shot it down immediately or only figured it out after three days of investigating. I tend to agree with him. The idea that the IRGC could put a missile into a commercial airliner and not have anyone up the chain of command notice is farfetched at best. If they could have continued to obfuscate and pass off a lie I’m sure they would, but by the third day, the cat was just out of the bag.

One thing I’ve been noticing in all of the MSM coverage of the story is the tendency for everyone to put the word “unintentional” in scare quotes. (The way I did in the title of this piece.) But is that sort of apparent skepticism an accurate way to respond? Here’s one example from the New York Post.

Iran has admitted that it “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed outside Tehran Airport early Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

The government blamed “human error” for the crash of the Boeing 737 in a statement early Saturday.

They had denied for several days that the plane had been struck by a missile, despite officials in the US, UK, Canada and Australia saying that the most likely explanation was that it was hit by a Russian-made Tor M-1 surface-to-air missile fired by Iran.

Trying to read the mind of the Iranian Foreign Minister is generally an exercise in futility, but in this case, I think we can construct an accurate narrative for what actually happened and whether or not it was “intentional.”

I don’t want to get totally bogged down in the semantics here, but one thing should be obvious. If you’re sweeping the floor and you suddenly swing around and send your mother’s antique lamp crashing to the floor with the broom, that was “unintentional.” (Well, unless you’re a real jerk, anyway.) In the case of Wednesday’s events, there was no clumsy IRGC equivalent of Gomer Pyle who was attempting to tie his boots, tripped and fell over, pushing the launch button of a Tor M-1 SAM which then just happened to fly up in the air and hit that plane. They took aim and they shot it down, killing more than 150 souls.

But were they intentionally shooting at a civilian passenger jet? That seems unlikely in the extreme for a number of reasons. Chief among those is the fact that the vast majority of the passengers were either Iranian or Canadian, with a dozen or so Ukrainians serving as the crew. It’s not as if Iran is squeamish about killing their own people when they think they have an excuse, but the odds of all those Iranian passengers being on the Mullahs’ naughty list seem slim in the extreme. And if it was just a few of them, that’s one heck of a lot of collateral damage.

It’s equally unlikely that they were trying to strike a blow against the Canadians. After all, when the Iranians get together in the streets they’re not chanting “Death to Canada.” I suppose you could concoct some sort of conspiracy theory that the Ukrainians are viewed as U.S. allies and are opposed by Iran’s friends in Russia, but that’s pretty thin gruel as well.

What’s far more likely is that everyone in the IRGC was on edge because they knew an attack on the Americans was underway. Plus, it was dark out. They know that when you start attacking the Americans, we tend to bite back rather fast and hard. So when they suddenly saw a large plane coming toward them at a relatively low altitude, some idiot thought it might be an American bomber planning to take them out, panicked, and took a shot at it.

So if we assume that this scenario is the most likely one, it would probably be more accurate to say that Iran “mistakenly” shot down that jetliner, not “unintentionally.” But either way, they can’t blame it on the fog of war or “American adventurism” or anything else. Iran took that plane down with no help from anyone else and all of the blood is on their hands.