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.
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.