The Future of Putin’s Russia and the Syria Dilemma

What will the next president choose: war, diplomacy, or inaction?

Russia’s attempt to thwart U.S. actions and interests in Syria has been more effective and long-lasting than possibly anyone expected. And the Obama administration seems unwilling to employ a more forceful strategy to discourage the Russian president from backing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad — leaving U.S. allies uneasy.

David Rothkopf, Kori Schake, and Rosa Brooks dig deep into the conversation on the current U.S. approach to managing Syria — from the peace talks to the not-so-subtle rise of Putin’s influence on this conflict. With a forward-looking glance, they turn over questions of whether the time for diplomacy has long passed or if it’s better to wait for a new administration to come into the White House with a different approach.

The panel debates why the United States is so reluctant to leave an ineffectual strategy behind. And how, after Crimea and the Baltics, is the United States still miscalculating Putin’s ability to turn what seems to be a strategically weak hand into an advantageous one? Have the United States and its allies limited themselves so much in the conduct of war, that they’ve lost the ability to win?

When it comes to the business of ousting dictators, perhaps there’s more middle ground than the debates suggest. The panel wonders whether world leaders should look to a more old-school playbook and consider a golden-parachute buyout instead.

Rosa Brooks is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and teaches international law, national security, and constitutional law at Georgetown University. Follow her on Twitter: @brooks_rosa.

Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she focuses on military history, and a former foreign-policy advisor to Sen. John McCain. Follow her on Twitter: @KoriSchake.

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group. Follow him on Twitter: @djrothkopf.

Subscribe to The E.R. podcast and other FP podcasts on iTunes here.

Like this article? Read an unlimited number of articles, plus access to our entire 47-year printed archive, the FP App, and the FP Insights Tool when you subscribe to FP Premium for 20% off!