The world is aghast at the colossal human tragedy that took place over Ukraine last week as a passenger jet was shot down by militants. Can the tragedy of MH17 teach the world a lasting lesson? Or will the death of 298 innocent people have been in vain?



The consensus in the world is that mankind in the 21st century is no longer capable of differentiating between credible wars (an oxymoron in itself) and senseless violence. The shooting down of the Malaysian passenger jet on July 17 killing all the 298 people on board has outraged the world and the media is mincing no words in demanding an end to the scourge of terrorism. Says The Guardian, “This should be a moment for shame, for reflection, and for reconsideration. But, of course, what we have instead is a rush to avoid responsibility, a flood of misinformation, and a chorus of denials.”

The consequences of the festering sore that is the Ukraine-Russia standoff are now clear for all to see and the irreparable scale of the tragedy raises many questions, one of which is why the airlines chose to take that route.

Says The Dawn: “Many airlines had chosen to avoid the flight path over that part of Ukraine. Why the Malaysian airliner still chose to take that route and why international air safety authorities did not issue an advisory against taking it are issues that need thorough investigation.”

The Hindu’s editorial says, “It is surprising that some international carriers have been sticking to this dangerous airspace all these weeks and months and only now have decided to steer clear of the zone.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reprises earlier warnings: “British and American aviation regulators had warned of the risks of flying over eastern Ukraine as early as in April, but failed to mention any threat from ground-to-air missiles. Indeed, British authorities were due to issue a new report on the risks in just two weeks’ time.” It lays the blame of the catastrophe on Russian president Vladimir Putin. “Putin must be condemned,” it says, “for sending his forces into Ukrainian territory earlier this year and fomenting unrest.” Australia, it says, is well-placed to offer expertise as an impartial investigator, “although Abbott’s strong and rapid criticism of the separatists may complicate any such offer.”

A similar inward probe is recommended by The Daily Telegraph: “It should also be a moment for Britain to reflect upon its own role in world affairs,” it says in its editorial. “Barack Obama appears less concerned with Europe and the Middle East than he is with pursuing trade in Asia and South America. David Cameron is a respected statesman, particularly within an EU that has come to know his strength of will, but his foreign policy has placed an emphasis upon striking economic deals rather than confronting tyrants. Trade is hugely important, but we must not imagine that we can settle for a quiet life so long as there are dictators in the world with no respect for law and order.”

A majority of the media asks for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the disaster. The Toronto Star in its editorial titled ‘After Ukraine tragedy Vladimir Putin should shackle his dogs of war’, says: “Putin’s cynical, serial assaults — bullying Kiev, seizing Crimea, sending troops across the border, fanning Russian ethnic unrest in eastern Ukraine, arming pro-Moscow separatists — have spawned the chaotic military conflict that led to this ghastly loss of life including that of Canadian medical student Andrei Anghel. Putin’s fingerprints are all over the smoking ruins of Flight MH17.

“Whether directly or not, Putin has now made Russia complicit to an appalling crime. Tragic as this conflict has been for Ukrainians and the innocents on Flight 17, it is Russians who will bear the shame, and pay a lasting price.”

The Bangkok Post lands an equally brutal punch on political hypocrisy at the cost of human lives: “On July 3, 1988, Iranian Airlines Flight IR655 with 290 people on board was blown out of the sky over the Arabian Gulf by two missiles from the USS Vincennes. This was in a war zone — the Iran-Iraq war was raging and the US navy was engaged in military actions in support of Saddam Hussain against Iranian vessels.

Margaret Thatcher called the downing “understandable”. President Ronald Reagan, apologising for the killing of innocent people, said his apologies were “sufficient”, and that he considered the matter “closed”. When the Vincennes returned to home port, the crew were given a hero’s welcome and awarded combat ribbons. Something for presidents Obama and Putin to ponder,” it concludes.