“The Russians have made a serious mistake”: how Putin’s Syria gambit will backfire

This is an article from October 2015

It would be easy to get the impression from media coverage that Putin’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria is some kind of genius strategic move — a bold and brilliant gambit that will weaken the US in the Middle East, or at least dramatically limit its influence in the region. Headlines this week have blared that Putin has “blindsided” Obama, that Putin is now “controlling the game” in Syria, and that Obama is “humiliated” as Putin “resets the Middle East.”

But as Jeremy Shapiro, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Project on International Order and Strategy, explained to me, the truth is far different. If Russia did manage to “blindside” the Obama administration, he argues, that’s only because the Russian intervention is so incredibly stupid that it took the US by surprise that Putin would actually do it. And while Putin’s actions may be bold, that doesn’t mean they’ll be effective, much less worth their costs.

In fact, Shapiro argues, if the US is going to take a cue on its Syria policy from a despotic foreign leader, it shouldn’t be Putin, but Napoleon, who once famously warned, “When your enemy is making a mistake, do not interrupt him.”

Below, Shapiro explains why Putin is making a mistake in Syria, why the US should refuse to be drawn into a “pissing contest” on foreign policy, and what would really need to happen to bring Syria’s civil war to a close.

See more: http://www.vox.com/2015/10/1/9434365/putin-syria-russia-mistake