Jonah Goldberg

On April 12, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House was still weighing requests from the Ukrainian government for other supplies such as "medical kits, uniforms, boots and military socks."

"You want to calibrate your chest-thumps," a senior military official told the Journal, explaining this step-by-step approach. "He does something else in Ukraine, we release the socks."

Now, imagine you are Vladimir Putin. You illegally sent Russian soldiers without military insignia into Ukraine (a major violation of the Geneva Conventions). You lied about doing so at the time (Putin has since boasted that he did exactly that). And your aide brings in the news that a "senior military official" of the United States has announced that if you take another step toward carving up Ukraine, the U.S. will be forced to give the Ukrainians the socks they've been asking for.

Call me crazy, but I doubt the response will be "Comrades! Call it off! We can't take the chance that the Ukrainians will have warm, dry feet when we invade Kiev!"

Consequences that are not sufficiently painful or sufficiently scary aren't consequences in the sense Obama means at all. They're invitations. It's like trying to get a bear to leave you alone by throwing salmon at it.

I entirely understand that Americans are war-weary, and for good reason. But has it really gotten to the point where the U.S. military now defines "chest-thumping" as unleashing the socks of war?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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