Nothing in the Middle East Happens by Accident—Except When It Does

No, President Obama didn’t set out to promote Russian and Iranian ambitions in the Middle East. But his policies have contributed to strengthening them.


Russia’s top military officials hold a press conference on the fight against terrorism in Syria at the National Defence Control Centre of the Russian Federation in Moscow on December 2, 2015. VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images.
Russia’s top military officials hold a press conference on the fight against terrorism in Syria at the National Defence Control Centre of the Russian Federation in Moscow on December 2, 2015. VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images.
Response
Dec. 7 2015
About the author

Dennis Ross has served in senior positions in several administrations, most recently (2009-2011) as a special assistant to President Barack Obama. His new book is Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama.


It is not often that one agrees with the general conclusion of a thesis and rejects its premise. But in reading Michael Doran’s essay, “Our Man in Moscow,” that is where I find myself. His conclusions about the implications of the Obama administration’s approach to Syria for Russia’s positions in the region and beyond it in Europe are, I believe, generally correct. There can be little doubt that America’s traditional partners in the Middle East do feel the need—as Doran suggests—to establish a “productive working relationship with Moscow,” and that Putin now has far greater influence in the region as a whole.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Vladimir Putin