President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry meet with Russian President Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Today we are proud to unveil a new section of our website, The Dispatch. It will be our home for in-depth analysis on today’s most pressing issues — a complement to our shorter daily fare. Inaugurating this section is our Senior Staff Writer Chris Newton — currently stationed in Juba, South Sudan — with his article, From Russia, with Lavrov: Explaining the Russian Misadventure in Syria and How It Can Benefit the US.
On September 30, the Russian military carried out its first reported air strikes in Syria, blitzing the northern suburbs of Homs as well as the village of Lataminah further north, in a purported effort to root out Islamic State (IS) from the area, even though the extremist group had no significant presence in either locality. A subsequent string of “off-target” strikes has led many to call Putin’s campaign against IS a naked pretext for his broader strategic machinations in the Middle East.
Even if Putin is bent on remaking the region, his actions still raise many more questions than answers. Is his foray into Syria an example of strategic brilliance or an epic blunder in the making? Is this the beginning of a new Cold War between the US and Russia, replete with proxy battles in the Middle East, or just part of the day-to-day foreign policy of a multipolar world?
As Chris Newton so compellingly argues, the geopolitical mess in the Middle East presents equal parts opportunity and risk, where atop the ruins of Putin’s unfolding misadventure, US policy in Syria — already pronounced dead by experts of every stripe — can perhaps be made anew.