Can Russia Make Peace as Well as War?

Vladimir Putin may look like a master tactician now for his role in the Syrian truce, but issues that derailed past cease-fires remain unresolved.

Comments: 74

  1. If Putin hacked our election then it means the C.I.A, is the publisher of the NYT.
    This entire editorial is written in Orwellian newspeak.
    Anytime the U.S, wants to overthrow a legitimate government the NYT labels it a "regime".
    "Modest Support"? This entire conflict has been funded by the U.S and its proxy Saudi Arabia. The"rebels" are Islamic jihadists not the Minutemen.
    "The Americans were the peace deal."
    The further any Middle East country can keep Obama and his C.I.A. henchmen away, the closer they can get to living in peace again.
    Russian Stooge

  2. Excellent commentary. Thank you.

  3. As usual, I give my thanks to the many commentators who point out that the real issue is can the US make peace not war. Answer: With "Pax Americana" still US policy, probably not. But just maybe Trump can bring a business approach rather than a geopolitical approach to US/Russian relations. Business deals help all round; geopolitical games hurt all round.

  4. It's 2017 - and yet I'm seeing the cartoon cold war narrative of the late 1950s/early 1960s
    I mean, I understand how it appeals conveniently to many who are using it to forward/buttress their PARTISAN POLITICAL insanity. as in:

    Trump like Russia - BAD
    Obama hate Russia - GOOD
    or vice versa

    but i seriously cannot comprehend how any rational person would actually BELIEVE the utter nonsense of the divide and control Soviet "peril" story and it's associated fear porn

    yet it appears to be alive and well in the Times and the rest of the MSM

  5. One should not forget how this Syrian mess started, it's a failed attempt by US and French security services to overthrow Assad.
    They encouraged the rebels but never really supported uprising with enough weapons and never provided any efficient ant-tank and antiaircraft capabilities.
    And the promised air strikes never materialized, neither US nor French parliaments approve it, and the Libyan scenario was not repeated.

    This is IMHO Obama's and Holland's greatest failure.

    Then the hellish dynamics of a civil war took over...

  6. Let Russia make peace and once everything is settled, we are going to throw away Ashad or start to arm rebels again. We all are fighting for our self-interest, while a country burns. It is a shame.

  7. From a certain perspective, Islam is in existential, exterminationist war with the infidel, (that's us), and itself, since 700 AD, Year Zero, Islamic counting;'Syria' is a chapter, forever associated with a US President named Hussein, whose early, formative years were in a Muslim-only country, and of which has only fond memories
    In syria, the latest charrnel house under (our President Hussein, there are too many players to keep track of, but NONE of them is liberal social Democrat who will make peace with: each other, the infidel, women, gays, jews, Christians, or global warming remediation, and so our interest there, is defined by mitigation the worst, and working at a distance

    The ideal model, is Assad pere, who 'dealt with' the Muslim Brotherhood, at Hama, by artillery and bulldozer, killing 25,000 of 'his own'

    Assad fils, is now his father's son, with help of course, and we should take some grim satisfaction, that internal exterminationism now applies against one faction, the sects or islamic terrorism. Assad is a secular butcher, which is our ONLY choice, secular butchers or theologic butchers, carnage turned inwards or carnage turned outwards

    The choices are clear, and imperative, and the Russians will be our salvation, much as THEY did the heavy lifting against the Naz, and took eastern Europe for two generations, as payment

    Trump-Putin, is Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill; the New Naz, Jew haters of Islam are heirs to Jew haters of Germany

    'peace' is conquest

  8. I am flabbergasted by this piece.

    The only think Russia did to help 'make peace' in Syria was to decimate the population that rose up against Assad. If killing off the opposition (along with tens of thousands of civilians) is the same thing as making peace, then I guess that is what Russia did.

    And your quote: 'Russia moved into this role gradually as Mr. Obama held the United States back from direct military action in the civil war. Although Mr. Obama provided modest support for some rebel groups, he was determined to stay out of another Middle East conflict that neither the American people nor Congress wanted.' ... is ridiculous.

    President Obama is the only person who did not want us to end the massacre over there. His lack of leadership in foreign affairs has been a crime. The world will pay for his pacifism for decades. Putin waited years to see if the US would respond to Assad's brutal squashing of Syria's demands for freedom. When we didn't (even after the use of chemical weapons - Obama's 'red line'); Putin stepped in and helped Assad obliterate his opposition.

    This fiasco sits firmly in President Obama's lap. Not the people of the United States nor Congress. And as far as Putin helping to make the peace? Well, pretty sure they have killed everyone who will object.

  9. Begging your pardon, but the US and its Wahhibi partners, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, started the civil war in Syria to violently overthrow the legitimate goverment of a sovereign nation. They are directly responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the millions of refugees' flight into Europe. The US could end the killing today if it simply shut off its flow of money and arms to the Islamic jihadi insurgentcy.

  10. Assad is the secular and cosmopolitan President of Syria, who represents modernity, which is making a stand against the forces of Saudi Arabia and Salafi Islam, which are pre modern, and destructive of our way of life in the West.

    Sunni Salafi Islam must not gain a toehold through its mercenary army of ISIS on the Mediterranean Sea, and Russia has stepped in to squelch the American led efforts to achieve just that result by our sponsorship of the Saudi invasion of Syria.

    On the one hand we are told that ISIS is "The Threat," but on the other hand the American Empire is allied with Salafi Islam through Saudi Arabia, and has been since the Reagan Administration in order to promote a Sunni Salafi Agenda, which will abolish inconvenient Sykes Picot borders in the MIddle East, which currently obstruct the distribution of trillions of cu ft of Sunni Royals/Israeli/Libyan gas to the Turkish Hub for distribution to Europe and Asia.

    Putin has trumped the Empire in Syria, and America now has a choice to seek peace in the context of commerce through mutualism, or to go to war with Russia with no proxy in between us to redirect the violence away from the inevitable acceleration to Armageddon, which war with Russia invites.

    The NYT is heavily invested in Israel and War. You have been lied to by this newspaper, and hardly any of you seem to get it.

  11. Best comment of the days. It's accurate and provides information the Times editorial board hasn't and won't serve to its readers.

    And, yes, Assad, the former London optometrist, and his wife, the former Morgan Stanley investment banker, represent secularism and modernity against the US and its Wahhabi partners, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have armed and funded the Islamic jihadis fighting to overthrow the legitimate Assad goverment.

  12. This cost the US influence and prestige? Did invading Iraq enhance US influence and prestige? Quite the opposite. Our involvement in conflicts around the globe appear to just make things worse while bankrupting our country. Our NATO allies invest their tax dollars in their people while the US plays policeman around the world and struggles with a massive budget deficit. It is time for the US to abandon the chest-thumping, king of the hill approach to diplomacy and instead work as a partner with other countries, sharing equal responsibility for maintaining peace around the globe.

  13. You wrote:
    It remains to be seen whether Mr. Putin can ensure that the war does in fact end and that he can withdraw his military.

    What on Earth makes you think Putin (or any Russian leader) would want to withdraw Russian military from Syria?

  14. Russia has been demonized since 1917 when the US invaded in an attempt to defeat the Bolsheviks. We've always treated them as a threat. Why? Not capitalist? Not Christian ? Afraid that they might control the Eurasian land mass and thereby control the world?

  15. You made no mention of the arming of some of the rebels by the United States and Saudi Arabia as contributory factors to the conflict lasting this long.
    We seem to have forgotten that Russia did not get involved for over two years after the involvement of the United States and Saudi Arabia.

  16. The Syrian civil war will end when the US stops funding and arming the Islamic jihadis fighting there, and demands that its Wahhabi partners, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, do the same. Either that, or until Syrian aligned forces kill enough of the jihadis insurgents that they fall back and join ISIS.

    You'd have to be the dumbest person in America to believe the pablum served up by the neocon Times editorial board that the US is anything but a force of destabilization in the Middle East, and Russia, Iran and Syria are anything but the real Good Guys in the fight.

  17. “He was determined to stay out of another Middle East conflict that neither the American people nor Congress wanted.” The USA Administration certainly wanted this Conflict. The evidence is in the 2006 cable from Ambassador Roebuck describing the measures that would be taken to destabilise Syria and promote Regime Change. Note that this was in 2006. The USA was the driver of the regime change and must bear main culpability for the death toll This cable which includes promoting sectarian conflict (in a peaceful secular country) is available in “The Wikileaks Files” on Amazon. There can be peace in Syria if the USA and its allies stop arming terrorists.

  18. Exactly correct. The US fomented what it knew would be a bloody civil war in Syria to overthrow the legitimate Assad goverment in what was a stable and secular Syria. The US and its Wahhabi partners Saudi Arabia and Qatar recruit, train, fund and arm the Islamic jihadi insurgents to this very day.

    The US is directly responsible for the ensuing deaths of hundreds of thousands and the flight of millions of refugees into Europe.

    The fighting can only truly end when the US (CIA) shuts off its flow of money and arms to the Islamic jihadis and demands its partners in war crimes do the same.

    Why was none of this mentioned in the Times editorial?

  19. Why do you ( the media\pundits ) continue to make the same mistake?

    It is not Russia, nor its government that makes ALL decisions. It is Vladimir Putin ( the man ) Russia rises or falls on his whims and his whims alone.

    We cannot guess accurately with any assertiveness what the man will have for breakfast on any given day. One day he might invade a sovereign country, or the next he might back a cruel dictator ( like himself ) in genocide of a peoples.

    The only thing we can ascertain is that the man may want to expand his territory and power.

    That's it.

    Oh, and that includes over his puppet trump in the United States of America.

  20. The Times puts it well: Russia now "owns" the problem. It's nothing new for Russia to be, as the Times says, "the dominant international player in Syria". They have long been the most important partner of Syrian president Assad. I see no reason to be fraught over the marginalization of the US in Syria. We tend to forget how much Russian power has, in fact, receded since the Cold War: close allies in Libya and Iraq are gone, and the Russian intervention in the Ukraine is taking place hundreds of miles behind the borders of the former Soviet Union. Working with Mr. Putin, where we can, and accepting this modest revival of Russian power and dignity would still leave us in a position far superior to our Cold War standoff. Maybe it's time to accept that, tone down our language, and stop beating the drums of war against the Russians. One thing, though, is clear, there shouldn't be a penny of US or EU money invested in rebuilding Syria, beyond basic humanitarian assistance to displaced people.

  21. Putin a master tactician?
    No let's call him what he is a mass murderer.
    Killing ,maiming orphaning , innocent children throughout Syria and in particular Aleppo that's the Putin legacy.

    I hope the peace holds for the sake of all Syrians but let us never forget or forgive Putin and Assads crime against humanity.

    The USA is right to stay out of this quagmire and focus on ISIS as neither Putin or Assad has and will not deal with them , they prefer to focus on killing innocents

  22. So if Putin is a mass murderer and war criminal for coming to the aid of an ally, one that is the legitimate goverment of a soveign nation under attack by foreign financed and armed Islamic jihadist insurgency, what does that make George W. Bush-s invasion and occupation of Iraq? And, do you actually think the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Mosul is any different than Aleppo? -- or what happened in the US battle of Fallujah in Al Anbar province was any different? Utterly breathtaking hypocrisy. SMH...

  23. "Mr. Assad's brutal regime" is no different than Netanyahu's brutal occupation. The NYT is blurring the lineS of a civil war in Syria when the West has assiduously organised a war against Syria snd now crying foul because Putin has cleaned up an American mess and destroyed American hegemony in the ME.
    Has Vladimir Putin's Russia interfered on 81 occasions in other countries affairs since 1946?

  24. I do hope the Russians can make peace since the US certainly failed to do so. But then again the objective for the US was never peace but regime change. Why is the NYT trying to distort Obama's record? The quote below is inaccurate:

    "Although Mr. Obama provided modest support for some rebel groups, he was determined to stay out of another Middle East conflict that neither the American people nor Congress wanted."

    In 2013, Obama was quite determined to go to war in Syria. The media tried to orient the American public mood for an expanded war commitment. The propaganda was strong leading into the summer of 2013, as it was this past summer when it was still believed Hillary was going to clinch the presidency. The only thing that stopped Obama from deeper military commitment in Syria in 2013 was the British Parliament, which voted not to go along with the US in the latest "coalition of the willing." France was willing to go in but not Britain.

    That marked the first time Britain refused to go along with the senior partner in the special relationship in a major foreign intervention. Thanks Britain.

    So, for the record, Obama was determined to go to war but could not muster the necessary support to do so. And the aid to rebels was not so modest. Much of it found its way into terrorist networks. Hopefully, now that the US is out of the equation, there can be peace. Good luck to the Russians and Turks. The people of Syria deserve peace.

  25. “This is a conflict that wouldn’t have happened, or lasted so long, save for the cynical brutality of President Bashar al-Assad and his chief allies, Russia and Iran.”

    Give me a break, are we talking about the same Syria where almost 6 years ago a peaceful demonstration was held in Homs? This peaceful demonstration was hijacked by foreign jihadist supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the US. Remember our policy of regime change that was articulated by our President and the funding of many Jihadist/Terrorist groups by us, Qataris, Saudis which started creating problems with the Christians, Alawites, Shias and Sunnis of Syria by changing the peaceful demonstration of Homs to a sectarian narrative.

    I would expect NY Times to be intellectually honest instead of rewriting history because it may be convenient to criticize Russia, Iran, and Turkey for excluding the US from the peace talk.

    Zainabia (a suburb of Damascus) was bombed by the Terrorist with money and weapons supplied by the opposition (Saudi, Qatar, US, Turkey). Zainabia has sacred sites as Prophet Mohammad’s granddaughter is buried there among others. This bombing was the reason why Lebanon and Iran joined the fight to defend Zainabia (Damascus).

    Syrian people have suffered a lot in the last 6 years. Let us hope and pray that Peace prevails in the region and truce holds. I do not wish ill for Turkey either but Erdogan is reaping what he sowed for Assad.

  26. This is heavy stuff: So, there is a country with an established President. Then there is a military rebellion against that President which is to a large extend funded and armed from western countries. This rebellion nevertheless fails and who is to blame? The president against whom the Rebellion happened.

    Like it or not, but even dictator's first responsibility is to keep law and order and maintain the monopoly of armed force. The one thing the USA should cvlearly stay out of is arming and funding rebellions in other countries. That is what ios mostly to blame for the houndreds of thousands of lives lost in the Middle East over the past 15 years.

  27. This editorial shamefully ignores the U.S. role in the Syrian war. Please report the facts.

  28. The writer says "At the moment, Mr. Putin looks like a master tactician for reasserting Russian influence in Syria,...."

    Syria is a purulent carbuncle and being influential there is not worth the price America would have had to pay in national treasure and lives. What influence did we have that we lost by not being involved? Had the US been involved, would Assad now be negotiating with Israel over Golan? Let Russia be influential, what will that accomplish for them? Assad would do well to remember the fate of others before him who cast their lot with the Soviets like Egypt, Cuba, Angola, North Korea and so on. A pox on both their houses.

  29. Since the end of the Great Patriotic War, it is the United States that has failed to make peace, starting wars and instigating military coups all over the globe. The Soviet Union and Russia would have to invade many countries and kill millions of people to match what the US has done the past seventy years. If Russia had not entered the Syrian civil war, another attempt at regime change by the American hegemon, there would be no peace talks, and even more Syrians would be dying. And that is the complaint of the American establishment, which not only includes the war industrial complex, but also the co-opted fourth estate.

  30. More than 400,000 people killed........The days when conquerors rode through the world slaughtering people isn't a thing of the past. In fact, slaughtering
    vast numbers of people has just gotten much more efficient over time. I keep forgetting that this is the world I live in because it's not happening in my part of
    the world. But it is still a fact of life. You would think humans would have evolved beyond that by now, but they haven't. Happy New Year.

  31. This is a victory for pragmatism. The US administration position i.e. remove Assad was doomed from the beginning - apart from asking replacing him with whom or what? We should all hope that the ceasefire will hold and that the January peace conference will end the Syrian civil war. After that, it will be up to the Syrians to rebuild their country in any way they want - not our problem!

  32. Would the Syrian tragedy have occurred if Bush had not invaded Iraq? Even though the U.S. did not actively engage in the Syrian civil war, what is our responsibility for the cleanup?

  33. Let's see. To skim the top, there's the Syrian civil war in which the "opposition" consists of multiple mutually unfriendly groups, as well as terrorists such as ISIS, al Queda, etc, There's the Turks who were strongly anti-Assad, but anti-Kurd, who, not incidentally, want little to do with Assad or Iraq. Iraq is torn especially between Sunnis and Shia, both are anti-Kurd, but Iran sides with the Iraqi Shia. Iran and the Saudis, of course, are enemies, and Israel doesn't get along with anyone very well (has it patched up things with the Turks?).

    Let's give Russia and the Turks an opportunity to fix things. Or do we really want to give it a try -- again?

  34. Does anyone really think that Mr. Putin is interested in rebuilding cities in Syria that he helped destroy? His people in Russia will ask why he doesn't rebuild his own society at home first. They are struggling in a cold winter in a dying economy, and have nothing to sustain them but Vlad's macho-ness. Wow, look at those pecs! What a president!

    Putin has used his troops in a Syrian "adventure" to make Russia look strong, and that is the consolation for his people--that they can still bomb a helpless population into the stone age. Lucky for them that "Many experts and international leaders believe that decision has cost America prestige and influence." If bombing civilians with barrel bombs is what it takes to build American prestige and influence, I say let it go. And just wait for the ISIS retaliation, as they call for jihadis in Russia and the Russian satellites to wage holy war on those who destroyed so many Muslims in Syria. Putin won't look so brilliant or influential then--the purges at home will resemble his actions and uses of power in Syria--will Russians like to be treated like their Syrian brothers and sisters were? Doubt it.

  35. Did the Iraq debacle win us power and influence? Did the Libya debacle win us power and influence? Did Afghanistan win us power and influence? Somalia? Yemen by proxy? Israel?
    It's a sad record. Better to keep our powder dry for actually defending the United States.

  36. Europe and America stood around and watched fanatics destroy a country and murder thousands and thousands. They did this because they couldn't decide which fanatics to support against the rest. They couldn't decide if removing Assad would be worse than installing a balkanized bunch of religious crazies.

    It's not amazing, I guess, that countries run by conjurations watching the bottom line could not act out of humanity and wisdom. The new world anarchy probably will allow corporations to continue to line the pockets of the 1/4%, while the populations of Europe and USA try to cope with the resultant anarchy and chaos that corporations have bequeathed them.

    In the meantime the Middle East is a pile of rubble and fractured families living in tents.

  37. This brutal war was fed and supported by the the good ole USA and Obama's incompetence. As brutal as Assad is the situation was made even worse by the USA who supplied arms and support to "rebels" fighting the Syrian government.
    It's a matter of historical record. As for Russia, prior to the war there were about 16,000 Russians living in Syria. What do you expect them to do? Abandon an ally?
    This is a problem that the USA owns, not Russia.

  38. Mr. Assad is a brutal butcher. The problem that ISIS is not less brutal and hungry for power. There are no credible pro-democracy forces in Syria and launching an effort to change the Assad regime was an irresponsible adventure that quickly degenerated into a full-blown civil war that practically ruined the country, destabilized the region, and killed thousands of people. I regret to say that the United States, whatever were its original intentions, is also responsible for this carnage. The sheer incompetence of this effort is mind-boggling.

  39. Russia's evil dictator Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted as far as one can throw a Russian bear. Yet we are about to enter The Twilight Zone. Come January 20th we will have at the helm of the ship of state the most dubious unqualified imbecile steering a rudderless ship. Where this demagogue takes US is anyone's guess since the Commander-In-Chief himself has not a clue. Scary, to be sure. With Putin and Netanyahu pulling the strings on Trump's ego the US is casting its fate to the winds and whims of a blowhard. Wherever he takes us is anyone's guess.

    America, in your desperation you have bought the snake oil which promises to make America great again, a panacea for all your woes. What you have actually accomplished is the opposite. How long do you think your dominance as the supreme power in the world will last when you do something so ludicrous as making a complete idiot your president?
    You have been pushing your luck since the end of WWII. You can't win all the time. With your cavalier attitude that extremely long run of luck has to eventually end. 2017, America, your time is due.


  40. I know that there are some who are appalled whenever there is a war somewhere in the world and we are not in it in a big way, and, there is no doubt that Putin has transformed Russia from a kleptocracy to a thugocracy, still the fact remains that, lately, whenever we meddle in this region of the world, the result is the transformation of a stable authoritarian state into a seemingly endless and hellish civil war. There should be a 12 step recovery program for American hawks & neo-cons who have become obsessed with military aggression in this region.

  41. One of your weakest, most hypocritical, least-convincing ever.

    "For two years, while bolstering Mr. Assad’s brutal regime, President Vladimir Putin of Russia dabbled with the United States in efforts to arrange the earlier cease-fires and negotiate an end to the civil war."

    Yes. Unfortunately American generals had other ideas, and decided, so like so many before them, to humiliate Obama by sabotaging said efforts by bombing and killing dozens of Syrian soldiers hours after ceasefire took place.

    "Although Mr. Obama provided modest support for some rebel groups..."

    Always love this. Kind of like buying Connecticut Ave when the Times was expecting Park Place.

    "No one should forget that [Putin] achieved this by failing to restrain Mr. Assad before the war began and then by collaborating with Syrian forces in devastating airstrikes on civilians and hospitals, which may be war crimes."

    Gaza anyone?

    A certain MSF hospital in Afghanistan?

  42. master tactician? are you our of your mind? His tactic was to kill hundreds of children and bombing all hospitals, so the wounded children will die. Master tactician? do not you have shame?

  43. So Syria is going to be Russia's debacle instead of ours. Right now it all looks so easy but it won't be. We should stay back and let them deal with it.

  44. FYI: The US and our Wahhabi partners, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, started the Syriam civil war and are funding and arming the Islamic jihadist insurgency to this very day. Other than that, yeah, we stayes out of it.

  45. It was the US that unilaterally abrogated ABM and committed to $1 trillion nuclear build-up, whereas Russia wanted to maintain the treaty and certainly does not want to have to match the US build-up. More generally, it is the US, not Russia, that interferes in the internal affairs of any country on the globe it wants to, using its economic clout, military threats, or outright invasion. As for Russia, it did nothing more in Crimea than the US did in Kosovo when it conducted a referendum against the will of the sovereign government, while in Georgia all it did was push gov't invaders back to the cease-fire line with Ossetia et al that the UN had previously brokered.
    As for the hacking, zero evidence produced or even hinted at that Wikileaks got the emails it published from Russia, or any state actor, which it denies, while the claim that the Russians hacked the DNC and Podesta has yet to have been supported by any actual evidence, much less proof capable of convincing skeptics like William Binney and Crain Murray. The NYT is simply propagandizing for the military-industrial complex, nothing more nothing less.

  46. "As for the hacking, zero evidence produced or even hinted at that Wikileaks got the emails it published from Russia...."

    Every one of America's intelligence agencies agrees that Russia hacked the emails. Evidence will be forthcoming at congressional hearings.

  47. I think history may show that Mr. Erdoğan is betting on the wrong horse.

  48. Editors: the caveat here is not can Russia do this ..or can Russia do that.
    and let us be real toto Vladimir Putin..who has absconded
    with ALL of Russia's let us say...this

    Can Vladimir Putin outsmart the USA...well he has done so: and gotten a
    very vain . very manageable puppet in place as our next President..
    Are you listening/reading and getting the way Putin has played...this]
    election...or are you still equivocating...
    Putin has played this game ...better than anyone else..
    and ....those who still have a bit of critical thinking left...should address this
    world fiasco.
    Putin has obviously compromised Trump...because Trump must have a
    financial conflict of interests with Russian bankers who fund his Trademark
    ...that is the name...TRUMP...
    so...please ...start thinking and writing and getting something out besides
    the I define this pallid piece you have written today..
    Start writing ....and thinking !!!

  49. The antagonism towards Russia began to build with Vladimir Putin coming to the presidency and has grown increasingly fierce and, I think, increasingly dangerous ever since. Repeatedly history has been shaped in the United States and United Kingdom to be antagonistic, no matter how wrongly as in the entirely unprovoked, indiscriminately violent invasion by Georgia of Ossetia, which was being protected by Russian peacekeepers, under cover of the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Routinely now Russia is portrayed as having invaded Georgia, which is of course false.

    The antagonism towards Russia is a severe problem, but is almost impossible to discuss because of Joseph McCarthy-like attacks on any person who would broach the subject.

  50. Media reporting on Putin and Russia has taken on the same tone and allegations that we hear whenever the US turn its attention to a new enemy de jour -- and the Times editorial board is no exception, it's at the head of the pack.

  51. The Syrian mess is a toxic stew with a lot of lethal ingredients. Singling out Russia and Iran is disingenuous.

  52. And failing to acknowledge US involvement in fomenting this bloody civil war and funding the Islamic jihadist insurgency to this very day is a noteworthy material omission.

  53. An equally valid question is, Can the United States make peace as well as war? One only has to look at our history to wonder.

  54. Does the NYT remember Chechnya at all ?
    You just need to have a look at Human Rights reports on Kadyrov medieval rule to guess what awaits the Syrian population in the future.

    Now that Moscow established a military presence, stability is the word.
    Will the eye of the world lazily turned to Syria curb Moscow's well developed strategies on enforcing stability ?

    Who will hold them accountable ?
    The US will be focused on their internal circus with their president who knows "a lot about hacking" and has a "very good brain" ? Europe is non existent. China is busy figuring out how aircraft carriers actually work, how to keep its population in check while its growth numbers pale and just does not care anyway.

    The "peace" we are talking about already echoes with the screams of torturees and despair for the bleak future of Syria's children.

  55. Actually, Russia approached the US not long after it was evident this might be a long haul battle. The administration declined, wanting Assad out of power - much like the rest of US policy to that point. The Kremlin said we should all sit at the table, as Assad can be brought to the ICC later. We continued to demur. Financed a small band - whose loyalties appeared to change course depnding upon external events. And, here we are. Let's hope it works this time.

  56. Every other "Cease fire" by the Russians has been a cover for preparations for another attack. Why does anybody think this is different. Idlib is next!
    Putin never does what he says he is doing.

  57. "his is a conflict that wouldn’t have happened, or lasted so long, save for the cynical brutality of President Bashar al-Assad and his chief allies, Russia and Iran."

    Here we go again, with NYT putting the blame where it doesn't belong. The conflict wouldn't have happened if the regional powers hadn't come up with a devious plan to overthrow Assad and get rid of Iranian influence in the country. Those are the ones to blame, not Assad or Iran. In early 2013 there was a car bomb that blew up the ruling party's headquarters. How would US government react if the DNC headquarters were blown up with car bombs and the people doing it were armed with sophisticated weapons received from outside the country?

    The 10-20% of Syrians that were moderates were mostly supporting Assad while US media supported the terrorists from day one. We don't hear NYT talk much about brutality when Gaza is leveled.

    As for Russian role in Syria marginalizing US role in the country, what role did we have before the civil war? None. Russians were invited by the government of Syria, and supported by the government of Syria. How can US meddle in that situation?

  58. In America if I sell, or give, a gun to someone I think might use that gun in a criminal enterprise then I can be legally liable for my actions. The USA supplied guns to criminals in Syria.

  59. Did it never cross the minds of the editors that - just maybe - the majority of Syrians support President Assad? It seems - at times - that our paper would prefer the terrorists to take over - as they did in Libya - thereby causing more refugees to flee to Europe leading to tens of thousands of corpses floating in the Mediterranean . No wonder young people go elsewhere to find more objective news and views. Happy New Year for all that.

  60. "Although Mr. Obama provided modest support for some rebel groups, he was determined to stay out of another Middle East conflict that neither the American people nor Congress wanted. Many experts and international leaders believe that decision has cost America prestige and influence."

    If nothing else, Trump loves prestige and influence just behind his love of money. I predict that the new president will learn exactly this lesson and we had better be prepared for intervention everywhere to make the US as ubiquitous (and hated) as Trump's foul tweets.

  61. Ceding the management of the Middle East's and North Africa's despots to Russia may be an expedient move, but probably not in longer term, or even intermediate term interest.

    Think: Russia now has the potential to exert influence over a band of Middle Eastern Countries (Iran, Iraq, and Syria) that stretches from Eastern Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. This "alliance" could exert significant influence over the oil rich countries in the Middle East. Throw in Libya, and you've got the makings of a move to "corner" the worlds oil markets.

    The question is why Trump, Exxon, and Putin see this as a positive occurrence. Is it positive for them or positive for US? Personally, I'm not seeing a lot in it for US!

  62. Offer the Russian people membership in the European Union.
    No? Why not?
    Would end the forced militarist hegemony of NATO, at long last.
    Or maybe you and the Pentagon are the actual problem....

  63. There will be peace in Syria when Assad's army has finally crushed the rebels. Western peace efforts only began in earnest when it became apparent that the pro-Sunni factions were going to lose, they were not undertaken out of principle or as a primarily genuine concern for human welfare. It is an ugly truth about war that peace is sometimes impossible until one side has been totally exhausted and depleted. The war in Syria has probably not reached that point yet, but it's getting close to the end.

    I don't believe that we ever genuinely believed that the rebels would ever overthrow Assad since after the uprising he still had most of the army on his side. I think our objective was to ruin this last Russian redoubt in the Middle-East, though I don't think we expected ISIS to take over 1/3 of the country as part of that plan. Only time will tell whether we succeeded in that objective. Shame all of those civilians had to die/flee while the great powers played their chess game.

  64. Sorry I have to chime in again.
    I fear too many commentators cannot see " the wood for the Trees" as far as Syria is concerned.
    Putin and Assad are guilty of the mass murder of innocent people they were bombing and killing while the USA was doing its limited best without total engagement to defeat ISIS .
    Why did Putin focus on Aleppo , why not Raqqua ?

    I agree the USA has engaged in inexcusable warfare in several places particularly Iraq but to use another idiom " too wrongs do not make a right"

    Obama did his best to get us out of wars not totally successfully and drone warfare is to focus on leaders of terrorist organizations it is the best of a whole host of bad options.

    The one thing he did right was to keep us out of the mayhem that is Syria.
    Putin and Assad as the article states now own this.
    Let's see how they handle the Sunni majority and I sense the alliance between Putin and Erdogen is a precursor to a bloody crackdown on Kurds in Syria and Turkey
    Meanwhile we must limit Putins evil power by intensifying sanctions, no Chamberlain olive branch to this Dictator

  65. ""Many experts and international leaders believe that decision has cost America prestige and influence."

    No doubt the same 'experts' who got us into the Iraq war. We neither want, nor need their advice.

    "Russia now owns that problem."

    Good. Better them than us.

    NYT is disappointed that we are not involved in Syrian quagmire, and Assad will stay on. To most Americans that reads like there is an agenda that doesn't involve neither what's good for Americans, nor Syrians. Sure, Sunnis are majority in Syria governed by a minority sect, just like it was in Iraq. Look how good putting our nose into that situation worked out.

    You are not doing any favors to your readers by advancing the interests of a foreign country even when it's not in the interest of United States. Something that's quite clear to most readers. The theme of "what's good for" permeates through most of your news and opinion pieces and is no way to gain the trust of readers.

  66. Why is the NYT Editorial board chastising Obama for keeping the US of the Syrian quagmire that the American people or Congress wanted noting to do with? Why does the NYT think maintaining the "cop of the world" role is a good thing for the US? The cost of that role is one that the American people are tired of paying with little gratitude shown for the blood and treasure paid by the US or the cost of goodwill from the US being seen as a bully. Much easier for those experts and leaders to chirp from the sidelines while not incurring any cost to themselves.
    If the task of keeping global peace is not equitably shared it will not succeed. Skin in the game is the only sure way of measuring commitment.

  67. The only thing sadder to a Western progressive than a mass shooter turning out to be a Jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslim, is when a group of Jihadi Salafi Sunni Muslims lose ground or stature as they have in Egypt and Syria.

    Will someone please, for the love of all that is good, explain the Western progressive love affair with the world's most retrograde, anti-woman, anti-gay, totalitarian, and violent group of ideologues? Is it simply a matter of trying to up the ante after spending decades cozying up to homicidal Communists, or is it more of a multi-cultural thing and obsession with the exotic?

  68. Putin's actions are not about making war. It is also about re-establishing Russia as a super-power. Setting a cease-fire in Syria, without the involvement of the US, satisfies his feelings of revenge against our lack of respects (as he feels it) as much as grabbing the Crimea.
    Our leaders, starting with Bush and much stronger by Obama, treated Putin like a small boy. Whatever Putin's misdeeds, honey works better than vinegar. Respect will work with Putin and that will be Trump's bet.

  69. I am far more worried about Trump than I am about the Russians.

  70. Once again the NYT Editorial Board shows a complete lack of understanding basic cause/effect/history and simple facts. It is so bad, I wonder if they even have a clue?

    First, 90% of cease-fire agreements fail and fighting resumes.

    Second, the conditions that caused this civil war has not changed.

    Between 2006 and 2001, Syria experienced its worse drought in over 900 years. People lost their farms, livestock and wealth and were forced to migrate to the cities. Everything we have been seeing (drought, civil war, migration et cetera) can be traced back to climate change. Things will get worse, not better!

    "Cease Fires Don't Work" and I encourage the reader to Google that phrase and read the article on 'War is Boring' to understand why they fail.

    Now if the reader understands what I am talking about, then they would realize that Syria is just a prelude of things to come. Larger droughts affecting the area and other parts of the world are coming!

  71. Let Russian petro dollars rebuild Syria. Very soon oil will trade above $100 a barrel, cause thats the deal that Putin,Exon on the orange one will desire. The art of the deal, buy a presidency.

  72. Breaking News ... DJT New Revelation On Hacking ...

    It was a 500 lb dude sitting on his sofa in Cleveland. Not, the previously reported 400 lb guy on his bed in NJ.

    Seriously, the "true" story is that he's decided not to reveal his secret knowledge because he wants to remain unpredictable, even to the CIA, NSA, HLS, etc.

    Happy New Year!

  73. Questioning whether Russia can make peace as well as war ill behooves a country which is marching around Europe with NATO shaking its fist at Russia and which is an ally of Saudi Arabia which with Qatar is the funding nest for all the radical terrorists madrasas and suicide killers. This sounds more like a stand-up comedy routine than an intelligent question for international consideration.

  74. After the Pentagon bombed the last Cease Fire to death by "mistakenly" targeting Syrian soldiers: killing 62 & counting...we get more patronizing advise from The Editorial Board which must have flunked world history in high school so it might well consider a brief review of US-Syrian history: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Politico piece: "Why the Arabs don't want us in Syria: They don't 'hate our freedoms.' They hate that we've betrayed our ideals in their own countries -- for oil." 2/23/16, updated 9/16/16: informing us that "The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949" then pointing to nytimes correspondent & CIA historian, Tim Weiner's book, "Legacy of Ashes", account of the CIA engineering a coup of an elected Syrian president who opposed the construction of an American oil pipeline to replace him with its handpicked dictator. & "During the 1950s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers" -- CIA Director Allen & Secretary of State John Foster -- "rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a neutral zone in the Cold War and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab nationalism..." Then "our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria & Turkey" after Assad opposed it. So much for a US "humanitarian intervention".