Josh Marshall on Putin, Malaysia Flight 17, and realpolitik:
Europe and even America never cared that much about Crimea. It is difficult to dislodge an annexation when a majority of the population likely really did support it. And the Europeans, as long as the big red lines weren't being crossed, are too tied to Russian fuels and their myriad other concerns to care that much about mischief on Ukraine's eastern border. But having a passenger plane, filled with EU citizens, shot out of the sky above what is presumed to be the bubble of first world safety that is "Europe" is a game changing event not only in the Ukraine crisis but much more broadly about Putin's role in Europe generally.
In a paradoxical way, I think the future ramifications of this are almost greater because it is about Russia's recklessness and bumbling than it would be if it were more clearly a matter of intent. This is a f'-up on Putin's part of almost mind-boggling proportions. Yes, a tragedy. Yes, perhaps an atrocity. But almost more threatening, a screw up. Malign intent is one thing. So is aggression. But goofs of this magnitude by someone who controls a massive military arsenal and nuclear weapons are in a way more threatening.
Which of course was the argument later made about Bush and 9/11. Like Bush in 2001, Putin assumed this wasn't going to happen and it did, spectacularly and tragically, despite the numerous warnings to the contrary. "Well, Putin doesn't have any control over all of the pro-Russian separatists" isn't an excuse that absolves Putin in the least, in fact it should frighten the hell out of basically everyone.
The Ukrainian situation is no longer an exercise in "what if". We now know what the consequences are, and they are bloody and dire. And the hand behind all of this controls Russia's military and nuclear arsenal pretty much exclusively.
This is not a good situation to be in. Putin is a real problem and will now have to be dealt with.