In a fallen world, we tend to oscillate between two foreign policy strategies: Get involved in the world and sometimes mess it up, or bury our heads in the sand and watch it burn.
For most of my life, we have done the former; for the last five years, we have pursued the latter.
In both cases, we have eventually arrived at predictable results.
But some strategies fall apart sooner than others, and it’s logical to assume America’s anemic reaction to Georgia and Syria has informed Putin’s calculus in Ukraine. While some would like to cast Putin as an unpredictable loose cannon, the Russian leader is behaving rationally (at least, in terms of how one might expect a nationalistic K.G.B. colonel to exploit perceived weakness and opportunity).