As the Ukraine crisis has gotten worse over the past five months, its center of gravity has shifted away from Russia. Russia, after all, is a constant. It has continually pushed and instigated in eastern Ukraine, even after MH-17, even after the September cease-fire, and it will push and instigate until it is stopped. The center of gravity depends on who can stop it.
The White House would like to believe that the center of gravity is in Washington, but that’s not quite correct. Washington’s response has been singularly ineffective — ineffective, meandering, and marked by hesitation in three important ways:
*The president’s unwillingness to confront threats that are unpopular.
*The legacy of the failed Russian ‘reset’ and the rump state of a national security apparatus congenitally indisposed to opposing Russia.
*Endemic to the whole is Obama’s inability to make timely national security decisions.
The Obama Administration is now reportedly debating sending defensive weapons to Ukraine. They are unlikely to be a game-changer — the last four moderate Syrian rebels could presumably tell Kiev a thing or two about waiting for American arms. In any case, like Syria, the Ukraine problem might soon be moot.