Paul Greenberg

The latest from the White House is that it has "overwhelming evidence" that Russia is now fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine. You think? How do you suppose our super-sleuths can tell? Maybe it's the busloads of the usual bullyboys being trucked in to take control of police stations, government installations and other key points in Donetsk, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk ... and points all along the next slice of Ukraine the Russians have their eye on.

Some of these thugs are in uniform, some without, and many wear St. George ribbons, the unofficial symbol of the old Soviet Union, and they're all following the same playbook they used in Crimea with great success. There's nothing like an absence of opposition to assure a smooth military operation.

This week's headlines could be a replay of what happened in Crimea, and in Georgia before that. And next? The Russians may not stop until they're stopped. And why should they? With a weak president in the White House, a vacillating European Union, and a United Nations that is as disunited as ever, this new tsar knows an opportunity when he sees it -- and he takes it.

And so the Russian Bear, awake from his long hibernation, goes back and forth, to and fro in the land, and up and down in it, seeing what he can see and grabbing what he can grab.

This isn't just a replay of Crimea, it could be a replay of the feckless 1930s, which were followed by the cataclysmic 1940s. Appeasement, even if it has a new name (Reset), breeds war. And all our president and his ever bumbling press secretary have to say is that "we are working with our partners and assessing for ourselves what response we may choose." There, that ought to scare a not-so-ex-KGB man like Vladimir Putin.

No wonder the Kremlin sneers.

The reaction in Washington and the West in general is more a lack of one. Western leaders wring their hands, express concern, and assure the world they're assessing events. Anything and everything but actually taking any meaningful action.

On the contrary, to quote the Associated Press, "President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors." You have to wonder at this point what would -- the Cossacks' descending on Kiev? Not that our fearless commander-in-chief might do anything realistic to deter Moscow even then. He seems much too busy assessing the situation to do anything about it.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, to quote Edmund Burke, is for good men to do nothing, and by now the Hon. Barack Obama is an expert at it.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.