PARIS -- Remember when you were a kid and packed your bag to run away from home, only to quickly realize that you lacked the requisite means to follow through on your threat? Mom and Dad, after giving you a little time to save face, had to drive down the road and toss your penniless little behind and your Transformers backpack into the backseat. We're now witnessing a similar scenario with the pathetic display of political theater underway between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
Those first few hours back home with your parents were pretty awkward, weren't they? Just a short time ago, you were telling them that you had no use for them. Now, you're sheepishly asking mom when dinner will be ready. The children in Washington and Brussels need to start acting like adults when it comes to dealing with multilateral problems (like global terrorism, for example).
But we're not quite there yet. Case in point: Last week, British Foreign Minister William Hague suggested that Russia pitch in to help save the new, self-appointed, unelected anti-Russian authorities in Kiev from an imminent Ukrainian financial collapse. Two days later, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Russia to stay out of the Ukrainian conflict. In other words: "Give me money for a new Xbox! And stay out of my room!"
Democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had favored his country's traditional economic, cultural and geopolitical ties to Russia over those with Europe. It makes sense that Europe wasn't happy, but why are nations like the United States and Canada butting in at all -- particularly in advance of democratic elections to confer legitimacy on the self-appointed Ukrainian authorities?
Objectively, it's hard not to sympathize with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Put yourself in his shoes. He had just finished bailing out U.S. President Barack Obama on the Syrian conflict, taking responsibility for Bashar al-Assad and the unrest in that country so that Obama could stop Etch-A-Sketching "red lines" and threatening military action opposed by American voters. Then, Putin focused on trying to ensure that athletes from America and other countries wouldn't be attacked by the Islamic terrorists who had threatened the Sochi Olympics -- and he succeeded, despite all apprehension to the contrary.
So how is Putin thanked? With the West cheerleading an anti-Russian insurgency inside a neighboring nation that has been a primary economic and geopolitical Russian ally -- a country not only strategically critical for the transport of Russian gas into Europe, but also home to key Russian ports.