No one thought what has been happening over the past two weeks in the Ukraine was normal. At a minimum, hundreds of protesters have died and scores of police officers taken prisoner.
At the same time, no one thought Russia would seize the opportunity by dismembering a neighboring country.
Last week, a headline in the journal Foreign Affairs put forward typical optimism: "Why Russia Won't Invade Ukraine," it declared.
Few in the West see Russian President Vladimir Putin sending troops into Crimea as actually what he "asked" of the Russian Parliament: permission to use troops "on Ukraine's territory until the socio-political situation is normalized."
Now we wonder what President Obama and the West are going to do about it, beyond sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the region. Some of us saw Obama's declarations as similar to former President Bush listing the countries that made up the "Axis of Evil."
Call it dangerous.
A military response from the West is out of the question, but we cannot afford to stand by and do nothing. That would be tantamount to acknowledging Putin's right to assault the sovereignty of a neighboring state.
It is possible that Putin will merely ignore the damage to his and Russia's image and the economic impact of any sanctions and move forward anyway. It's been done before; do you remember Georgia in 2008?
Russia, more so Putin, must understand that there are consequences for these incursions. The fact that for the remainder of Obama's administration the Russian regime will be considered "rogue" does not appear to matter to Putin.
That's why the situation is so precarious.