Perhaps the U.S. preference for military action and threats has to do with the poor quality of our diplomatic corps, including recent Secretary of States. A NYTimes story this morning profiling Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister highlights some of the qualities a good and successful diplomat should possess and deploy. These may not always make him/her an agreeable human being, but Lavrov seems to get the job done--in this case putting off U.S. military action.
"Mr. Lavrov has sought to force the United States into a conversation that the Kremlin hopes will set a precedent, establishing Russia’s role in world affairs based not on the dated cold war paradigm but rather on its own outlook, which favors state sovereignty and status quo stability over the spread of Western-style democracy."
Rather than the thrust and parry one should expect in diplomatic engagments, Lavrov seems to have annoyed his U.S. counterparts: "In many ways, Mr. Lavrov’s work over the next six days [leading to the framework agreement] represented the apex of a career largely spent trying to body-block what the Kremlin has long viewed as dangerous American unilateralism. It is a job he has done so effectively that it has earned him the nickname “Minister Nyet,” and senior American officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, have said they often found it infuriating to deal with him."
Somehow "infurating" doesn't seem like the right response.