It doesn’t take a PhD to work out this was a stupid idea

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I’ve never pretended to be an expert in international politics. In fact, trying to understand the nuances of it all makes my brain hurt so much I want to reach for a glass of wine and the latest Lee Child just to block it out.

However, it doesn’t take a PhD in international politics to work out that shooting down a passenger jet, if that is what happened, was a stupid idea.

No matter that, as I write, both the Ukrainian and Russian governments are blaming each other for Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 coming down over rebel-held territory in Ukraine, close to the border with Russia.

For a little while now it has been easy for those outside of mainland Europe to ignore the fight between Russia and Ukraine over the annexing of the Crimean peninsular and the civil unrest that followed.

And, unfortunately, in recent days it has been images of children killed in air strikes in Gaza that have dominated the public consciousness, as people struggle to come to terms with the loss of innocent lives and a ceasefire that never materialised.

But this latest horror – for horror it is – has mirrored the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine.

Let’s be fair here. No-one has yet confirmed the plane was shot down, killing all 295 people on board.

But with both sides blaming a missile being fired on each other, it seems likely that was the cause.

Six of those on board were British. Of the other so-far identified passengers, 154 were Dutch, 38 were Malaysian (including 15 crew), 27 were Australian and 11 Indonesian. There were also four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian.

It’s nothing short of an international tragedy and, to be frank, one that could easily have been avoided.

Other airlines had long abandoned their regular routes over eastern Ukraine, where the military has BUK surface-to-air missiles as a precaution.

Sensible, you’d think, not flying over a war zone. The question of why Malaysian Airlines flew that route at the lowest legal altitude will be among one of hundreds that the grieving relatives will want answered.