Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down “unintentionally” by Iran on Wednesday shortly aftertake-off.
Hours earlier, Iran fired missiles at two air bases used by American forces in Iraq.
All 176 people on board flight PS752 were lost but the incident has the capacity to claim many, many more lives before a conclusion is reached.
Protests in Tehran must add to those fears. Wednesday attack is just one domino falling in a series of tit-for-tat responses after America assassinated General Qassem Suleimani.
It may be attractive to pretend that move has nothing to do with the fact that President Donald Trump has an election to win in the coming months but that is impossible.
That he, probably from the security of a golf resort, tweeted support for brave Iranian protesters adds to those fears.
Neither is it possible to dismiss the argument that the British government is using the crisis to re-establish some sort of international presence after their Brexit fiasco and that this faraway adventure offers that opportunity.
The plot lines in this adventure are all too familiar, even if Iran has overreached, strategically, militarily and politically. Its population faces tremendous challenges and is vulnerable to further exploitation.
America has, without question, contributed to an atmosphere where a disaster like this was inevitable. Both sets of leaders, in Washington and Tehran, must show restraint if a new catastrophe is to be avoided.