The End of Animal House

The shootdown of a Malaysian Airlines 777 over Ukraine with the loss of all aboard may represent a new and disturbing trend in that conflict. For Ukraine represents the flashpoint between east and west at its most immediate.

The airplane was brought down from 33,000 feet by an anti-air system from parties unknown, yet almost certainly connected with the army of a great state. It follows the announcement of new sanctions by the Obama administration on Russia -- and a connection between the two, even if factually nonexistent, will be drawn and hang like a cloud over the international scene.

Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Thursday morning to discuss the new sanctions the U.S. imposed on Russia Wednesday, and near the end of the call Putin noted the early reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Moscow requested the call between the two leaders, which provided the opportunity for the Obama “to make clear once again the important principles at stake here” when it comes to Russia's support of rebel militias in Ukraine.

The destruction of the Malaysian airliner comes at a time when international tensions are very high. From fighting in Gaza, Syria and Iraq to the manifestly failing attempts to negotiate away Iran's nuclear program to renewed attacks on Kabul's airport -- at no recent time have American efforts to preserve the Long Peace been under such threat.

If Leading from Behind is working, it's not obvious.

The president has spent the last few weeks laughing at everything.  But now he is faced with something possibly new and disturbing, something which a speech or an executive order won't handle. He must tread very carefully. Above all he must remember that foreign policy is not something he conducts out on the golf course.

It is past due for the other branches of government and the American people to be told what is going on. No more narratives about videos, no more talking points, no more Soros, no more Susan Rice.

The world is sliding into serious crisis under the most mediocre Western leadership since the Second World War. They do not even seem prepared to acknowledge the possible disaster they are causing. They have singularly failed to address the energy and security problems that have fueled instability, preferring instead to pander to the environmental and cultural obsessions that are relics of the halcyon days of the immediate post-Cold War. They have pursued narrow commercial and partisan agendas without regard to consequences.

The Mod Squad style of statesmanship is failing the world. And now, as events take us into ever more dangerous waters, Western voters must ask themselves: how much more reality TV, how much more anachronistic cool, how much more incompetence can they survive?

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