The United States is working to increase sanctions against Russia for its destabilization of Ukraine and is trying to extend a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. But activity in and of itself is not a strategy. In both instances, the question arises: activity toward what end?
The answers are not obvious. In Ukraine, the United States seeks an outcome that may not be achievable; in Gaza, U.S. policy needs to transcend the immediate crisis and recast the basic dynamics of the conflict.
The goal of U.S. policy vis-a-vis Russia appears to be to increase the economic pain until President Vladimir Putin backs down. But Putin is too invested in what he has done to simply give up; if he did so, he could well put his own future in jeopardy. There is, too, the fact that what he is doing enjoys wide support throughout Russia; this could change, but change will come slowly. In the meantime, Russia's increased involvement in Ukraine—and what looks to be preparations for a possible invasion— raises the threat of that country's further dismemberment, a wider war or both.