Vladimir Putin’s grand ambitions for Syria aren’t working out quite as planned.
In Syria, the Russians are making a better show of things than we are. In part that’s because we’re pursuing lots of interests (with varying degrees of enthusiasm), many of them mutually exclusive, while the Russians are focused on just one. We want to crush ISIS, help the Kurds, placate Turkey, contain Iran, keep Iraq from falling apart, and reach a political settlement that eases President Bashar al-Assad out of power. These are all worthy goals, but it’s impossible to achieve any one or two of them without torpedoing the others.