The Logic of the Bully

by Rich Lowry

We are playing by the rules of the bully in Ukraine. Here is the top of a news story about the latest sanctions:

The United States expanded its sanctions against Russia on Monday, targeting members of President Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle” and technology that could be useful to Russia’s military, in response to Russia’s ongoing involvement in Ukraine.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is holding broader sanctions against Russia’s economy, such as its banking or defense industry, “in reserve.”

What this means is that we are holding in reserve sanctions that have much more of chance to bite for whatever will be the next Russian aggression. So we keep on saying, “this far and no farther,” while admitting that we won’t get serious until Putin indeed goes farther (if then). This gradual escalation no doubt suits the Russian leader just fine. It means he gets to pocket his gains and continually push the envelope.