Even though more than a month has passed since the Kursk submarine abruptly sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, very few aspects of the tragedy have been explained satisfactorily. Overall, the situation is just as murky today as it was on the night the Russian vessel went down.
What caused the accident? What accounts for the Russian government's abysmal response? Was there a possibility of rescuing any sailors who might have survived the initial explosions? What will be the military and political consequences of this affair in Russia?
The only honest answer to the first question–regarding the cause of the accident–is that we simply do not know yet. Indeed, we may never find out. A US submarine, the Scorpion, went down near the Azores in 1968, and to this day we do not know what caused it to sink. Scrutiny of the equipment and sensors on the Kursk–which we can only hope will be undertaken by Russian naval authorities–may someday reveal what caused the two explosions that tore apart the Kursk's two front chambers, but it is entirely possible that we will never ascertain the precise chain of events. […]