Downing of Plane in Ukraine Highlights U.S., European Weakness

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 casts new light on just how inept and decadent the United States and Europe have become.

Faced with Russia's annexation of the Crimea and attempts to repeat that in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. and Western Europe and have mustered only strong words and token sanctions on top Russian officials and several companies. That's hardly enough to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions to make Russia the dominant power in Eurasia.

Now, public outrage at the downing of the Malaysian airliner will force Western governments to offer Russia restraint from imposing truly effective sanctions on its subversive activities in the Ukraine in exchange for an international investigation. That likely will yield little more than already inferred.

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Russia supplied the missiles and is culpable for enabling separatists who shot down the plane.

Not much else will happen. Six months from now Russian agents will still be operating in the Ukraine and planning similar uprisings in other former Soviet states.

The U.S. lacks sufficient military assets in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and Europe's most powerful state, Germany, lacks the will to stand up to Russia.

President Obama has been too successful at paying for entitlements by cutting the defense budget, and German businesses are profiting too much from commerce with Russia.

Obama naively misjudged Putin. There is no reset button for relations with a regime led by a criminal. Putin has plundered businesses, crushed dissent and killed journalists. To believe he can be persuaded through diplomacy or by imposing minor economic costs is a fool's journey.