THE TRAGEDY of flight MH-17 stirred several reactions in Slovakia. There was compassion. Among some, there was some disappointment with a government reluctant to take a firm stand, and willing to still consider Russian companies as suitable investors in such fields as energy. There was a bit of a surprise at the number of people ready to listen to and spread the arguments of Kremlin propaganda (although a recent poll showing that over 80 percent of Slovaks feel Ukrainians should decide about their own future without Russian meddling is somewhat comforting).

And there was fear. Slovakia was lucky enough not to lose any citizens in the crash. But it does have experience with being dragged into two global conflicts and a Russian invasion, and with being at the mercy of world powers. If there are any points that all recent analyses of the Ukrainian crisis share it’s that the situation is highly unpredictable and combustible, and no peaceful resolution is in sight. Given that it’s happening in a neighbouring country, that’s not good news. A century ago, it took a single death to spark a great war. One would hope the world has since learned its lesson. Sadly, there seem to be too many contradicting theories on what that lesson is.