President Obama hosedt the president of Ukraine, which is normally a symbol of our concrete support.
It seems we view the optics as the support rather than a symbol of actual support:
White House officials made clear that Poroshenko's visit — his first to the U.S. since being elected this summer — was aimed in part at sending a message to Russia about the West's backing for the embattled former Soviet republic.
"The picture of President Poroshenko sitting in the Oval Office will be worth at least a thousand words — both in English and Russian," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Uh oh. The math doesn't work out so well. I don't know how many words President Obama read in Estonia, but they didn't seem to work all that well.
I'm thinking a photo-op would work better with a training package and weapons like refurbished Russian heavy weapons from our new NATO allies switching to Western equipment, infantry weapons and gear, and long-range missiles and naval mines to torment the Russians in conquered Sevastopol.
Actually, just skip the photo-op. Photograph softly and send a big stick, right?
Unless Poroshenko takes a selfie with Obama and they unveil a new hashtag campign (#BringBackOurProvinces)--then we're talking real support that will compel Putin to change his underwear.
UPDATE: Ponder the contrasts between President Obama and Putin. Obama thinks the optics are the main effort. Putin denies even being involved in Ukraine and sends weapons and his own troops to affect the control of the ground.
We know the target of Putin's quiet concrete efforts: Ukraine.
Just who are our optics aimed at? Russians? Like they care. Ukrainians? They need the means to kill Russians and an economy to resist Russian pressure. Or is the target America? So we'll believe we are doing something without having to do something effective?
UPDATE: Via Instapundit, this assessment:
Whatever his intentions, President Obama is doing an excellent job of making Putin believe that the American president is all bark and no bite: that he will make speeches and empty gestures but that his ultimate goal is to avoid a U.S.-Russia confrontation at all costs.
We enter a dangerous time if Putin believes no Russian aggression will prompt President Obama to react. One day Putin will be wrong.