In order to get a grasp on matters in Eastern Europe, especially The Ukraine, it is important to recognize that Vladimir Putin, Russian leader, has a personality and disposition composed of at least four dangerous characteristics.
1. He was the former leader of clandestine forces in the USSR.
2. He is not a particularly intelligent man.
3. He is trying to piece together again the Russian empire.
4. He is a brute and reacts violently from his moderate body size.
It should also be observed that the United States has many "leaders" who possess similar characteristics. The U.S. has leaders who want to jump to military action ASAP.
Therefore we have a dangerous mixture of "leaders" on both sides of the Ukrainian conflict.
Important in all this from the very beginning is that the U.S. should NOT draw lines in the sand. We have "leaders" in our country who feel the need to flex their muscles, throw U.S. might around, and get us into horrible international situations that we cannot back up or sustain. Difficult as it is to find them, we need intelligent minds to prevail at this time.
Putin is aware of the mess he has got himself into. But unless we have international cooperation from our European allies, the U.S. cannot bring enough pressure on Russia to dramatically change its aggressive stance in Eastern Europe. The shooting down of the Malaysian flight should be a wake-up call for Germany, Britain, France, etc. Together we can bring enough pressure on Russia to make some positive things evolve. But unanimity is essential.
Further, we need to be aware of the psychological nature of Putin when we confront him. This does not mean being afraid. It means being aware of the man, and his now-precarious situation. Once again, intelligence needs to prevail. A psychological evaluation of Putin should be undertaken. Missile-rattling will not work.
This all means we will have as much of a problem with our own "leaders" in trying to resolve problems. Intellect and wisdom are not prevalent in Washington, DC. Our international decisions in the past several decades have been disastrous. We cannot continue to ignore history, rather we need to be wise in our use of military force, we need to use intelligent decision-making, and finally, aggressive military reactions are self-defeating. Can the U.S. finally show some wisdom in how it conducts its foreign affairs?