|(Illustration: Liu Rui/GT)|
With the world still shrouded by the grief of the MH370 tragedy, Malaysia Airlines has again found itself dragged onto the stage of civil aviation history with the crash of MH17 on July 17.
Although the actual probe is proceeding very slowly, many media outlets have tied the disaster to rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev is now trading accusations of blame with Moscow over the ill-fated plane that is widely suspected of being shot down, either deliberately or by error.
The plane came down in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, an area in which both the Ukrainian government and rebels possess the medium-range missiles capable of bringing it down.
Myriad information leaks on the plane's black boxes have further aroused public concern, and the question of who should claim responsibility for the disaster remains up in the air.
The current international order is in a process of transformation. The US' hegemonic system is gradually eroding, with a new international order growing into its place.
It is fair to say that the Ukraine crisis has served as a catalyst for these changes.
The current order took shape after the end of the Cold War, with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Yalta system.
The US built up an absolute monopoly on power through the Gulf War and the war in Yugoslavia. It also exported to the world its own relations of production, social systems and an ideology of international monopoly capitalism thoroughly dominated by Washington itself.
However, countervailing trends are inevitable once certain limits are reached. Washington's efforts to disseminate its values and hegemonic system around the world have encountered a crisis.
Washington's power has been spent following its geopolitical expansion in the name of the war on terror. The outbreak of the global financial crisis of 2008 in particular exposed a wide spectrum of systematic and social problems that had accumulated over a long period of time within US society.
The decline of Washington has gone from rumor to reality, not only triggering a domestic social crisis but also accelerating the collapse of the current international system.
The existing world order cannot operate as it did before. Emerging economies have begun to come to the fore of the international political stage, while Washington's hegemonic system of alliances has begun to disintegrate from within.
The Ukraine crisis is a microcosm of the kind of contradictions that emerge between traditional powers and emerging countries that have long occupied the peripheries of the US-dominated international system.
Russia has gradually rediscovered the confidence it lost after the Cold War. As other regions occupied the attention of the US and the EU, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busy reforging economic integration among the countries that were once members of the Soviet Union.
When the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative expanded to Ukraine, Moscow chose to strike back.
Putin managed to keep Ukraine within the framework of the Commonwealth of the Independent States through policy levers that included energy agreements and huge loans.
He incorporated Crimea into Russia after the regime change in Kiev. The current crisis reflects severe mistrust between Russia and the West.
The collapse of a unipolar world has led to new contradictions between the East and the West, leaving peripheral zones mired in constant turmoil.
The MH17 incident reminded us once again of the various conflicts binding together the parties involved.
It reminds us also that unilateralism and hegemony will only lead to more confrontation and that compromise and cooperation constitute the only choice for resolving the crisis.