If there's one thing Vladimir Putin understands better than Barack Obama, it's humanity's cynicism. The NY Times:
European leaders expressed outrage but showed little eagerness to escalate the confrontation with Russia. Mr. Cameron, whose country had nine citizens on board, said "those responsible must be brought to account." Ms. Merkel, whose country had four passengers on board, said there were "many indications" that the Malaysian airliner had been "shot down" but declined to say whether she would support tougher sanctions.
I'm reminded of jaded CIA spook Cliff Robertson educating the idealistic Robert Redford at the conclusion of Three Days of the Condor. Do you really believe the American people would care about a nefarious, U.S. military scheme to appropriate Middle East oil, if they need the oil? Robertson asks Redford. Ask them when they're cold and hungry if they care. Ask them about idealism when the reality, or even the specter, of deprivation bites.
Nearly 300 innocents, including 80 children, blown out of the sky because Putin supplied ignorant separatist thugs with--to those 300 innocents, at least--what amounted to a weapon of mass destruction. I heard a military analyst say on CNN last night that the U.S. military requires six months of personnel training on the four distinct components of our equivalent of a Russian Buk missile system. It's that complex and sophisticated. One doesn't just point the murderous contraption like a rifle and pull a "launch" trigger. Thus a little knowledge of an SA-11 is 300 times worse than none at all.
Putin had to know that, or he should have known that. He should have known what Obama knows--that superpowers ought not supply, say, ignorant Syrian rebels with American "Buks," for there are always "unforeseen consequences," as Obama re-warned in his presser yesterday, to such weaponry proliferation.
Would that Putin possessed Obama's sensitive intelligence. But, as noted, Putin has a hole card. As a former KGB officer, he thinks with the unimpeachable cynicism of Cliff Robertson's CIA character.