We know that the Malaysian plane was brought down by a ground-to-air missile fired from Russian-made SA-11 weapons run by pro-Russian Ukrainian rebel terrorists. We also know that Russia is fighting a proxy war with the U.S. in Ukraine, and that Russian special forces are leading the terrorist movement in Ukraine. We can add to this the proxy war fought by Russia in the Middle East, with its main ally Iran, and the fact that Russia is engaging in state-sponsored terrorism.

Whether President Obama understands all this, I don’t know. His policies have been alternatively passive (Libya, Egypt), incoherent (Russian reset) and feckless (Syria). But the fact that the current U.S. economic recovery is the slowest in post-WWII history — spanning 70 years — is surely a key factor in Vladimir Putin’s adventurism.

This brings us back to Reagan’s link. Putin may recognize that Russia’s economy is a thin deck of cards. But he surely doesn’t fear the weak American economic position. Ditto for the broken economic dictatorships in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, and the rising economic dictatorship in China. They don’t fear us.

In fact, America’s economic weakness is so worrisome, one suspects our friends are losing respect for us, too. Whether in Europe, Asia, Latin America or Israel, our allies know that America has been the backstop for freedom. If not us, who?