Trump and Putin Agree to Seek Syria Cease-Fire

In their first conversation since last month’s rupture over Syria, President Trump said he would send a representative to Russian-sponsored talks.

Comments: 135

  1. Problem solved, never mind Assad and his barrel bombs filled with gas.

  2. Yes, quite so. Problem solved by Obama. No chemical weapons, no barrel bombs.

  3. If you believe this, I have an orange bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area to sell you.

  4. Well they've already bombed and chem'd everything that hasn't emigrated. May as well photo-op and pat their own backs mid-crater.

  5. While the horrors of Syria need to be addressed somehow, Russia is responsible for a grievous injury to our democracy and they are also responsible for ratcheting up the destruction in Syria. Trump is tainted and incompetent. These parties will not reach a solution. Alas, it's not that far-fetched to think that if Hillary Clinton had won we'd be stuxnetting the bejesus out of Russia's infrastructure right now.

  6. We's also be involved in at least 3 new military adventures. Hilarity even has McCain beat as someone who never met a military adventure she didn't like.

  7. This is a non-starter. Putin supports Assad and has committed war crimes in Syria to help him. Any collaboration with Putin on Syria is a dead end.

  8. Putin will have what he wants within the next year, Trump will remove all sanctions.

  9. Gordon is right. Unless the American people wake up and smell the vodka soon, the sanctions will be lifted or made moot by work around modifications by executive order.

  10. A likely scenario:
    Putin says to Trump: Remember our agreement, lay off Assad.
    Trump say to Putin: OK, you're the boss.

  11. I always wonder, are they really on telephones? With all the technology at their disposal they can't have face to face live streaming video conferencing?... like most of us can do right at home.

  12. Twitter of course.

  13. May be they don't like to see each other.

  14. Syrian cease fire? Again? Putin is Lucy with the football, and Trump is taking over for Obama as Charlie Brown.

  15. You have Lucy and Charlie Brown confused and directly reversed. It was the US that violated the last cease-fire, early last summer when we bombed Syrian troops. Other than being the opposite, I do like your analogy.

  16. You are sighting sources and quoting officials who have lied to you, repeatedly, in the last 5 months and, in the case of Russia, the last 2 decades. Is it to much to ask that the difference between what is reported and what is actually occurring is, at least, acknowledged so that the NYT can avoid both the appearance of bias and the appearance of naivete.

  17. Wait and see. Lasting peace does not come from foreign powers drawing lines on a map. Not even if put troops on the ground to enforce those lines for 3 years, 5 years, or even 10 years. I wonder what Kurds will think about Turkish troops on their doorsteps, or what Sunni countries will think about Iranian "peacekeepers" in Syria.

  18. "Trump’s bromance with Putin appears to be back on track,” Adrienne Watson, the deputy communications director of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement.

    This kind of rhetoric from the DNC s not helpful. I registered as a Democrat last year because I had to in order to be eligible to vote for Sanders in our state primary. Adrienne Watson just reminded me that I want nothing to do with her organization and should resign from it.

  19. What kind of rhetoric?
    Trump is infatuated with Putin, and Putin knows how to use Trump. It's a Match.

  20. Well, Billy, it seems your commitment to Sanders' principles were never that deep to begin with, since you feel such strong dismay that someone stated an observable fact, that Trump seems strangely enthralled by Putin. We'll miss you, but I wasn't aware that Russians could vote in the US in any case.

  21. Great ideas!
    Put Iran (which supports Hezbollah and Hamas and their charters which call for the destruction of the State of Israel) on the Israeli border to make peace in Syria. Makes total sense!

  22. As Ann Applebaum says, there is already more than enough convincing evidence that the brilliant Russian intelligence agencies have worked their magic leaving nary a whiff of a "smoking gun".

  23. In other words, the absence of evidence means that Russia must be guilty?

  24. There's no absence of evidence ... not even of coverup.

  25. The last cease-fire in Syria was violated by the US when we bombed, knowingly and killed approx. one hundred Syrian soldiers. I do not think this was the first cease-fire we had violated in Syria. I cannot believe Russia is going to be fooled again.

  26. True, the US has violated past cease-fires in Syria, but I don't think that will happen again, for two reasons:

    1. Call me naive, but I think past US violations were inadvertent -- "extremely careless" (as Jim Comey might say), but not malicious.

    2. Putin will never agree to a cease fire that poses any risk that Syrian soldiers could be bombed again by US war planes. Presumably US war planes will be limited to desert areas in eastern Syria where ISIS hangs out, and Syrian troops will pull back from those areas.

    In other words, Russia will help Syria to "offload" the fight against ISIS to the US.

    Sounds like a good plan -- for Assad and the Russians, at least. For the US, though? Not so much. We could end up with war planes dropping bombs on Syria for a decade or more. And then -- who knows? If we fail to rout ISIS, maybe we'll send in ground troops. That will be fun!

  27. If it is mathematically possible,

    I would mention that i trust Comrade Putin less than Comrade Trump.

  28. For a whole host of reasons, the war in Syria must end.

    1. Europeans, especially large business concerns, are getting increasingly tired of the sanctions.

    2. A stalemate has been reached, so the U.S. is never going to militarily achieve its objective of overthrowing Assad.

    3. The Syrian people are suffering tremendously, which is causing unsustainable refugee flows.

    A long term Syrian solution requires the approval of Russia, so Trump must engage Putin. This may be distasteful, but is necessary nonetheless.

    Let's get started sooner rather than later.

  29. "Europeans, especially large business concerns, are getting increasingly tired of the sanctions. "

    No they're not. Europeans overwhelmingly support proper sanctions against Russia for its illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea, as well as its undeclared war in East Ukraine with 10,000 dead. Shooting jetliners out of the sky. Europeans are quite fine with the sanctions, and fed up with with attempts at #Deza disinformation like this. Nice try.

  30. "The Kremlin statement made no mention of safe zones, and Mr. Putin’s spokesman said they had not been discussed in detail."

    The only safe zones for Syrians that Putin wants are in Europe, where they facilitate his agenda to drive Europe and the enlightenment asunder, or in graves to mark the spot where people who oppose him might end up.
    Then, of course, there's the general chaos that helps prop up oil prices to benefit the Russian treasury...his pocket!

  31. This comment is false.
    Putin didn't send Syrian refugees to Europe.
    The one who invited them was Angela Merkel with her migrant policy in 2015.
    I understand the anti-Russian paranoia in the West, but we should​ try to not exaggerate​.

  32. Putin wants Syrians in Europe? I seem to remember the US destabilizing the entire region by invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and stirring up an uprising in Syria well before that Civil War started. That forced the mass exodus of Muslims into Europe, not Russia. And we still back Muslim extremists against Assad. Democrats are losing their minds with this Russophobia and blaming Trump for everything. I can't stand Trump, but it's getting irrational and scary. Trump is just a continuation of the same American foreign policy, he's just more open about it. For example Democrats up in arms about him inviting Duterte, a dictator. What do you call the same dictators like Sisi that Obama supported. I guess Saudi Arabia can throw gays off buildings and we say nothing, but Russia beats up gays and we loudly protest it. I'm not defending Russia, these are all bad actors, but the American hypocrisy is rife.

  33. Guy Friday, Jared, is already packing his carry-all bag, vest and shades - and writing his detailed notes for his insightful remarks to travel to the Russian-sponsored talks.

  34. They are both very dangerous men. Putin for his ruthless and murderous ambition. Trump for his profound ignorance and arrogance. I have no choice to place my faith with the handful of competent generals in key positions, and Rex Tillerson who, so far, is being the adult.

  35. Donald's Russian Reset:

    Step 1, Get into big fight with good friend, Vlad. It will be difficult sidetrack, but you can send note through Rex in a couple of weeks.

    Step 2, After a month, use barrage of domestic policy smokescreens to pivot back into my arms.

    I will miss you,
    Forever yours,
    Vladi

  36. Laughable. Who says this is Trump and Putin's "first talk"??
    With this administration's covert hand-in-glove relationship with Russia, it's hard to believe that, and most everything else being reported.
    Think it's time to start singing 'Kumbaya'?? -- Don't think Assad will be using chemical weapons in Syria again? -- too late. He already has. And what's being done about it?
    Nothing.

  37. Why? What "America first" benefit could we possibly derive from wading into this swamp with Putin? “...to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons" sounds noble but Russia could do that alone by withdrawing its support of Assad. This sounds like Trump pining for his buddy Putin and wanting to "make up" so they can bear hug.

  38. You think Russia unilaterally withdrawing would bring peace? Syria will be taken over by radical elements like ISIS in a day almost. No, not even US or its allies can stop it then.

  39. And we can achieve peace by withdrawing our support or the rebels/jihadists.

  40. Two things wrong with this passage:

    "Mr. Trump['s] goal has been hobbled by multiple investigations into Russian meddling in last year’s election and the clash over Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people."

    First, has anyone else noticed that the Times has all but dropped its allegations that Trump and Putin conspired to steal the election from Clinton. Now it appears to be enough that Russian meddled in the election -- which, of course, we already knew and is standard operating procedure for Russia and for us. Whatever happened to that Trump/Putin conspiracy?

    Second, Trump ordering a Tomahawk missile attack on some Syrian air base doesn't establish that Assad had anything at all to do with the recent chemical attack. There's been no evidence of that, Assad and Russia vehemently deny it, and -- most important of all -- it would be sheer lunacy for Assad to have done this when everything was going his way. More likely, it happened just as Russia claims: rebels were making chemical weapons in some warehouse, intending to send them to their comrades in Iraq; Russia bombed the warehouse, and the CWs were released.

  41. My two cents re Three Cents. Sounds a bit like you're trolling for Russia. I'm not sayin...just sayin.
    Hope I'm wrong but I guess that if any article would attract Putin's defenders, it would be this one.

  42. "Whatever happened to that Trump Putin conspiracy?" The investigations by both the House and Senate were obstructed by Republican members of both panels. Nevertheless, we persist.

  43. It's impossible to know what actually happens behind the scenes at the Times (or any publication) during the editing process that colors the articles that are published. I've noticed a definite change in tone since last fall here at the Times. While I am sure they look very closely at the fluctuations in their subscriber base and their ad revenues, it certainly seems something has changed--it's subtle, but definitely there.

  44. The phone call between Trump and Putin was nothing more than a publicity exercise to give the appearance that something is being done about the Syrian situation. If the truth be told, it was probably a performance review and appraisal from Putin on Trump's progress in fulfilling the wishes of Vladimir Putin.

  45. Trump got the Frederick Douglas thing wrong. He is confused about the Civil War and Jackson. So how will he handle the idea of Balkanization? Putin will play Trump like a Stradivarius. Trump will hand Russia a wider military presence in the Middle East.

  46. Yes, let Russia take over our role in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and any other battle ground in which we are doing so well in the Muddle East. I'm sure Putin would be welcomed with open arms in Dubai and Riyadh.

  47. Given their records, how can anyone trust or have confidence in the efficacy of or the motives behind an agreement between Trump and Putin, except perhaps Bashar al-Assad?

  48. I wonder what else they agreed to? heh

  49. Hopefully, The Donald agreed to to trade $100 million to Russia for LNG. The same $100 million Progressives want to use to counter Russian influence in Europe. (new spending bill)

  50. How are Time's readers to assess this reputed development? On the surface it would appear a solid framework is busily being constructed for the re-establishment of trust between two great powers with the immediate object of bringing a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict. But, at a hundred days in office, in order to take anything Trump has to say at face value (sorry Peter Baker) one would need to be an endlessly gullible idiot. Same deal with Putin who blithely shoots passenger planes out of the sky to send a message. Whatever these two pathological liars are concocting, if character and history are any guide, it has absolutely nothing to do with good things for the Syrian people, the American people or the Russian people.

  51. HClinton confirmed my personal interpretations about the "bombing" of the airfield in Syria: close collaboration between POTUS45 government & Putin's - to ensure planes & airfield could be used within days.
    So personally, based on European intelligence reports + developments over the past nearly 12 months, I believe it's highly likely the current US admin is actually in Putin's pocket.

  52. A good article until it lapses into war propaganda with" his goal has been hobbled by multiple investigations into Russian meddling in last year’s election and the clash over Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.

    The last time the NYTimes acted as stenographer for the State Department in a crisis, it led to the criminal war in Iraq, based on lies, which has killed a million and only promoted the growth of "terrorism."

    The report that Syrian chemical bombs had been dropped was made by the terrorists themselves. It has been disputed by many nations and totally debunked the expert Postol.
    To state partisan allegatoins as tho fact is to replay the Saddam has WMD Big Lie.

    If you want to live down the accusation fake news, you can start by question government claims rather than santifying them as fact. There has been no investigation Assad every reason NOT to overturn his recent victories over ISIS and Trump's taking regime change off the table and forensic analysis by Postol has made mince meat of US claims, based on al Nustra operatives reamed as "activists."

    Stop repeating war propaganda and do our job which is to question and expose it. not promote like an American Pravda.

  53. Putin, steals like a chimp, murders political opponents, strangles the press and is afraid of gays. Is it any surprise that the right likes him? And here is one of his fellow chimps trolling the Times.

  54. What is Postol?

  55. One gender neutral humans news is another gender neutral humans propaganda.

  56. The Democrats absurd taunting of Trump over being a Putin dupe has reached the stage of being stale demagoguery. The fact free accusation that the Assad caused the recent chemical attack in Syria shows the relentless nature of the news media to demonize not report the news. The worst part though is that these unproven accusations give aid and comfort to al Qaeda. Especially al Qaeda's use of human shields to protect their troops from bombing but Assad and Russia continue to bomb civilians anyway. Assad will have to live with the fact that he blew up his own country. The US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia just piled on encouraging jihadists to do their worst. It has been reported that Turkey has a close working relationship with al Qaeda in NW Syria.

  57. Sally Yates will be testifying next Monday. Wound will be opened WIDE once again.
    The Feds are Slo' but they Sho'

  58. You mean the taunting of a guy who said Obama wasn't born here for 6 years ?

    If they are still doing this in 2025, I'll concede your point. Until then, it's a matter of you get what you give.

    Besides, he sure acts like a Putin dupe. He shouldn't make it so easy.

  59. In order to divert attention from the ongoing investigations of the Russian meddling and appear engaged in Syria and the Middle East Trump is ready even to play a second fiddle to the powers that matter in the region.

  60. Whatever helps to alleviate the suffering of Syrian people is worth a try. For far too long thousands of Syrian have died and millions of innocent men. women and children have been forced to leave their homes in the cradle of civilization. Never ending Russian investigation are not considered by many in the USA as a priority not even by Clinton.By the way Prof. Sharma the city of Jaipur, India has been featured as number one among the 100 best places to visit in the latest issue of the National geography. I hope some day in my lifetime Damascus, Syria makes the top 100 list and will make the efforts to sink their differences by the 2 most powerful nations on our planet. Peace and restoring the homeland of the Syrian people to the pre2008 level, should remain a top humanitarian priority.

  61. Girish, I sincerely wish your desire come true. Thanks.

  62. On the one hand I do believe that Trump is both naïve and overly friendly towards Putin. On the other hand, any American president must deal with Russia, including engaging them where they may be willing to partner or be helpful. The Democrats should zip it. The ongoing investigations into the election are valid and should continue. That said, we cannot hamstring Trump from dealing with Russia on other matters. Previous attempts at diplomacy & cease fire in Syria have gone nowhere, but we must try. The Syrian people have suffered horribly.

  63. Is it hamstringing or using caution when it comes to Trump meeting with Putin.

  64. We are dealing with Russia thanks to Obama's sanctions. Lift those sanctions and chaos is sure to follow. Trump's got things mixed up. You don't round the bases starting at third base, to second and first and back home again. There's a referee waiting with the out signal as you approach home basel

  65. The tensions between Moscow and Washington following the 59 Tomahawk missile strike on April 7 may just have been a ruse, to show that Trump wasn't Putin's stooge. Today the two leaders speak on the phone again to demonstrate a "normalisation" of their communication.
    Soon the two are going to meet in July at the G20 summit in Hamburg, which will allow them to rub shoulders without facing allegations of collusion. Trump has been extremely good at refraining all criticism of Putin during the past months. As reward, Putin allows him to play a role in brokering peace in the Syrian conflict, writing history.

  66. "A White House statement said the two leaders had discussed such zones “to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons.” The Kremlin statement made no mention of safe zones, and Mr. Putin’s spokesman said they had not been discussed in detail."

    The picture of Trump dealing with Putin is something out of the Twilight Zone. Vladimir Putin can run circles around the colossally ignorant and emotional Mr. Trump, despite the fact both sides employ the same tactics of diversion, denial, and the trafficking of multilevel versions of truth.

    So while I'm not surprised that the official versions of the phone call are quite different, I am concerned that everything Donald Trump criticized President Obama for--weakness, vacillation, getting taken for a ride by adversaries--could easily take place when you have a man like Trump whose main concerns seems to be how he comes across to the American people.

    Foreign policy by ego is dangerous stuff. Just look at North Korea. Even with his "generals" in the room, I'm sure Donald Trump is out of his league dealing with Vlad, who likely remains 5 steps ahead of him in strategy and self-interest.

    Will Trump's desire for stature and stated mutual admiration reduce him to appeasing the Russian strongman? It seems more likely than not in my humble opinion.

  67. It comes down to this-who do you believe more concerning the phone call, our con artist carnival barker and his continuous spewing alternative facts or his mentor.
    He will be "out conned" by a better master than He.

  68. The champion of"America First" agrees to sit as the backbencher observer at the Putin chaired Syria table in Astana.

  69. I await the announcement that Duterte, Kim Jung in, Nicolas Maduro, and the rest of the world's most despicable dictators will be invited as well. Sort of a training weekend for Trump, if you will.

  70. Tillerson says the call was "fulsome"...and not just fulsome but "very, very fulsome"....does he know what "fulsome" means? did he use this adjective intentionally?

    Fulsome: "complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree"
    Synonyms: excessive, extravagant, overdone, immoderate, inordinate

    Perhaps they couldn't stop heaping congrats on each other for getting away with their theatre production of gas attack/missile strike/worst relations in history but now we're willing to give our relationship another try in the name of Syria.

  71. At the "bargaining table":

    Putin: Your fearless action on Syria has brought me to the table.

    Trump: We can work together, Vlad.

    Putin's balloon bubble: Almost too easy. Tell this guy how successful his knee-jerk launch of missiles was and he will go around the world bombing things that irk him and destabilizing world order and Putin can go marching in.

    Citizen: Maybe President Bozo could read his book that he didn't actually write. Then one of his moderating influencers could tell him that he can't put a big gold "T" on the ruins he leaves behind.

  72. Ho hum. Another day in the Trump White House. Phone calls to untoward foreign leaders and photo shoots of Trump signing executive orders.

    Time for a missile or two "to shake things up" as Melania says because we sense The Donald is getting bored.

  73. When Putin speaks of his "American partners," I think Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Rex Tillerson, maybe Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Wilbur Ross. And there must be others. How many of Trump's wing of the Republican party are caught up in the Trump-Putin mutual admiration society, based, as it seems to be, on Trump's romantic feelings for autocratic strongmen--not only Putin, but Duterte, Xi, Erdogan, al-Sisi, and the like. Or is it all about a tangle of hidden money, concealed investments, and secret loans? Does Trump envy Tillerson's Russian Friendship medal pinned on his breast by Putin himself? Or is Trump both ignorant and naïve and more than a bit unhinged?

  74. What? LOL. How could Trump (who has NO diplomatic skills of his own) possibly help to arrange a Syrian cease-fire when he can't even get legislation passed in a GOP majority house & senate?

    Putin has orchestrated this entire Trump fiasco - beginning with Trump's election, moving on to Trump's bombing in Syria and now this 'cease-fire' in order to prop Trump up to give him something that looks like an actual accomplishment.

    Trump is courting the same authoritarian dictators that Putin likes in order to create a cabal that is not affiliated with Europe, splits the US from it's allies and opens up trade without sanctions to countries run by dictators.

    Stay focused on the Russian collusion - that's the story they want to hide!

  75. Trump's transaction with Putin precludes any removal of Assad- a war criminal by everyone's definition but Putin. Putin is the wrong person to be allied with since he has the same characteristics as the President and therefore is not to be trusted. Trump loves Putin because it's like looking into a mirror.

  76. Are Republicans prepared to accept Russia's proposal to create buffer zones in Syria using Iranian, Assad's military and Erdogan's Turkish forces? Is that the art of the deal for which Trump is so mistakenly known? Would not such an action all but guarantee the security of Assad's brutal regime?

    And would there be a way for Trump to blame Obama/Clinton for such a settlement?

    These are questions not answered in this article, but they need to be, given the lack of trust many Americans have in V.Putin and his lapdog, D.Trump.

  77. LOL Never happen

  78. The realpolitik of this detente is the creeping realization on Putin's part that the chess board has been reset. There is no political will within his own nation to support a bloody conflict within Syria for another pipeline war over mere oil, and the world is convinced that Assad is another tin-pot dictator, in spite of his Western education, Mayfair address, and prior life as a respected ophthalmologist in London, no matter how silly and manufactured the purported chemical attack now seems in retrospect from every objective vantage point.

    Trump has wagged the dog on a man that has long believed that he has the creative power and ingenuity to warp minds and bend perception in canny ways to change outcomes, not unlike the work of our own CIA in the heydey of our regime change business for the last several decades in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Middle East. The message is pretty clear: you might be smart, cunning, and agile -- but we will use the media as our global propaganda tool in ways that you cannot by throwing bombs in the name of children, democracy, and all that is good and holy.

    For all of Trump's faults, it must be recognized that Tillerson's strategy to isolate Russia on the side of all that is evil changed the game in ways that no one could have fathomed. The most ironic bit of it is that Russia and Syria both are probably doing the most to save lives, but you would never know it.

    If I were Putin, I would call Trump's bluff.

  79. Putin (master) and Trump (slave) must really think the whole world is as idiotic as they are. Their little month long snit between them over a supposed chemical attack to give an excuse for a macho show of force that spent a hundred million dollars worth of cruise missiles to kill a few meaningless functionaries and innocents was a transparently obvious made up show to make Trump look macho on Putin as Trump continues in reality to be Putin's puppet.

  80. "Mr. Trump agreed to send a representative to Russian-brokered cease-fire talks that start on Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan. He and Mr. Putin also discussed meeting each other in Germany in July."

    The Liar-in-Chief has moved away from clandestine meetings, phone calls and hacking and sequed to announcing their meetings. I guess he figured nothing's come of the Russian probes so may as collude in public!

  81. Given the friendly overtures that Trump has been making to some of the world leaders that we typically view as 'not American friendly', and given Trump's continuous need to seek the praise of others (or lie to himself with his self appraisal), and given the history Trump has at putting moral decency towards others aside in his constant quest to show is more wealthy than the 'fake news' reports, and given Trump's refusal to release his taxes and legitimately shelter his assets as president, and given Trump's need to keep his family by his side in the White House - I am becoming more convinced that Trump's primary interest as President is nothing more than a vehicle to expand his business interest.

    As the recent news articles are pointing out, Trump has major projects in many of the places where he praises their leaders. Let's not kid ourselves - Trump is a master at diversion, and as long as he makes constantly attacks people via Tweets, Fox, or Brietbart; makes stupid / uneducated / immature comments during interviews; and runs around with no regard for the his personal costs on the American tax payer... he will continue to be free to make his real estate deals under the cover.

    Congratulations America - we did this to ourselves. If Donald Trump is not a concrete lesson in the importance of voting in EVERY ELECTION (Local and National) - then we might as well let him become the dictator his ego has already convinced him that he is.

  82. Trump owes Putin. Putin owns Trump.

  83. The puppet master has told his puppet what to do if he wants his Russian investments kept secret, and wants to keep the "special tape" from "leaking."

  84. Is this Trump's secret plan to defeat ISIS that he campaigned about - to have Putin partition Syria? (I'll give you half of Syria if you get me elected President. Plus, how about a hotel in Moscow?) Or is this his generals' plan that was better than his that they came up with in 90 days?

  85. Forget about Trump and the US in this case, they have no real role to play but a negative one.

    The best would be to keep the US completely out of Syrian and the entire region and let the locals handle their issues alone or with only those partners they themselves accept like in the case of Syria Iran and Russia.

    Trump and the US can only make matters worse.

  86. ".... let the locals handle [it] "
    Sure. Just look at how well they "handled" their affairs throughout recent or not-so-recent history.
    But of course referring to history would be immediately labeled "whatabout-ism" by the left.
    Perhaps that is why history is not taught in our great school systems.
    Just an observation, after decades in classrooms...

  87. boroka,

    I assume you are right about the history lessons in the US.

    Regarding the Middle east, which is where I spent many months each year and have been doing so for many years now, I also speak Arabic, I probably know more about than most.
    If you go back in history for e.g. 100 years, you will find the basis of a situation in which today's wars are rooted and you will find the colonial issues that still plague the region.
    The Middle East has a clan based culture that is completely incompatible with Western types of culture and society.
    With an entirely different approach to legal systems and things like Human Values or Human Rights.
    Entirely different from what we have in the West.
    Borders are based on decisions made by colonial public servants in places thousands of miles away with no understanding of the region.
    And the British, the French and worst of all the US have been playing the region for more than a century all wrong.
    Not just the Arab Spring but also things like the CIA led coup in Iran 1953 or he US support for Ibn Saud have had devastating effects.
    If the region was left alone we would have a tradition of the night of long knives and many dead but in the end we would see an equilibrium of local clan powers the region has known for hundreds of years.
    Seen from a Western perspective this looks like chaos and undemocratic but seen from a Middle Eastern perspective it fits perfectly into local society.

    Keep the foreign powers out, including their weapons sales.

  88. Snidely snickering about how everyone was fooled by the fake tensions between 45 and Putin over Syria the dynamic duo resume their partnership.

    With nary a headline about the investigation into potential collusion between 45s team and the Kremlin, their ruse worked. Tillerson payed his role as well.

    Predict a successful cease fire will be brokered..all the more to fool the public. Proving that Putin is good and only he and 45 can accomplish what has been impossible until now.

    Then these two can get down to their real business. None of it for the benefit of Americans, Russian, Syrians or the world for that matter.

    NYT is falling off its game.

  89. I'm glad Trump is working with Putin. But I believe neither can do anything about Syria until Assad is taken out of the picture.

  90. Please let us know when you find out what happened to the now dead Russians, eight I believe, that perished after the dossier revealing Trump's collusion with Russia in both his business and political doings. Still waiting. Thank you.

  91. It is a classical negotiation strategy to conclude an agreement on a small thing in order to build the trust so that bigger things can be started. As armistices tend to work reasonably well in Syria (they tend to break down after a couple of weeks) this is a good starting point.

    Unfortunately the rebels have already left the negotiations. So nothing will come of this now.

  92. Two professional liars lying to each other.
    I do not know anyone who would believe either of them.
    But the NY Times would.

  93. The US is muff at Russia because the Russian intervention which intends to stabilize Syria and restore peace in the Middle East crosses the US goal of balkanizing the Middle East into smaller states that have no political or economic clout - especially Iraq and Syria. Iraq has large oil reserves, and let alone, will become wealthy and powerful in the Middle East due to its oil income. Syria is geo-strategically important as entrance to the Middle East. The US wants to balkanize and destabilize the Middle East in order to have Israel take over land from Baghdad to Damascus and be the only superpower that governs the Middle East. That would guarantee US influence in the Middle East. What Russia does, to stabilize and pacify the warring countries will inevitably lead to exclusion of the US - just about every Middle Eastern and North African citizen hates the US by now and its chance of playing a role in the Middle East is slim. Not only will this mortally endanger the petrodollar, it will also drive the predominantly Muslim countries into the sphere of trade of China and Russia - i.e. enlarge the Asian economic integration rather than to prevent it.
    As to Afghanistan, the problem is similar: if the US does not uphold the war with the Taliban, there will be no cause for it to keep its bases in Afghanistan, which bases it wants to use to destabilize Russia and China and prevent Asian trade integration, i.e. the Silk road scheme.

  94. Oh great! A completely amoral, horrible dictator and his counterpart (you guess which is which) are going to fix Syria. Two self-serving despots are on the case. What could go wrong?

  95. Yes, what could go wrong? Well, Assad could continue to murder Syrians. The rebels could continue to murder Syrians. ISIS, et al, could continue to murder Syrians. Russian, Turks and Americans could continue to murder Syrians. The status quo is acceptable, if you feel that murdering Syrians is a worthy humanitarian policy. I wonder if the Syrians waiting to be murdered care who brokers a cease fire.

  96. If standard behavior is maintained, we'll see Trump and Putin have some dialogue, appear to make progress, and then either one will do something that belies the other. President Trump will then not be able to let it go and start tweeting the world that Putin is this or that. Can the world stage handle the insanity we've brought on?

  97. It's hard to imagine this war ending unless the Syrian people themselves can agree to a path for ending the Assad dictatorship in one way or another.

  98. It is wishful thinking that Syria issue can be resolved without involvement of Russia in the discussions. The primary reason I supported Trump in the election was that he promised to resolve Syria issue by dealing with Russia while the Obama administration clearly avoided talking to Russians and just let the Syrian crisis play on its own leading to over 300000 deaths and millions homeless/refugees. Whatever Trump be, I think every American must support him on this particular humanitarian issue so that many lives could be saved and improved in Syria.

  99. Where is it clear that Obama didn't talk to Russia. Obama talked to Putin, we just didn't have to hear about it. Kerry was always talking to the Russians about cease fires.

    Putin won't give up anything in Syria unless it is solely to his advantage but be sure that Trump will position it like a win for him. Unfortunately for the US, Trump has turned out to be more like the Cash Man and a lot less like the Michelangelo of negotiators.

  100. And yet.....his methods seem to be working. You stated that clearly yet I wonder if that was your intention. Trumps approach to negotiations are proving to be effective.

  101. I think it's "wishful thinking" to think every American must support Trump....on any issue.

  102. Putin invests much political capital in negotiating an end to the war in Syria - the most intractable conflict of the decade - whose success he will trumpet. He is intent on shaping a new order in the Middle East, taking advantage of Trump's limited interests - to fight ISIS and protect Israel - in the region. He hopes to have sanctions lifted and run for re-election next year, keeping him in power till 2024.
    In Astana, Putin seeks "to propose that Russia, Iran and Turkey act as buffer forces separating government and rebel forces in some areas of Syria." No wonder Assad is "skeptical of the plan" as he sees it as "the first step toward a partition of the country," because he still hopes to recapture the lost territories. Many Syrians - however - see Iran and Russia as occupiers.
    But does Putin really believe that his proposal will work, given the Assad regime is surrounded by hostile Sunni states? The trilateral mechanism will surely provoke deep resentments and violence. The Kurds feel betrayed as they fear Turkish repression. Iran and Turkey are rivals, that compete for greater share of influence in the region. And both countries have been trading barbs in recent weeks over Iraq and Syria. Ankara has been accused of fuelling the fighting and of supporting jihadists in northern Syria. The Sunni Arabs will continue to back rebels, who fight to topple Assad.

  103. As they used to say, "Give Peace a Chance." No matter your opinions and suspicions of Presidents Putin and Trump, a "cease-fire" in Syria is the essential first-step toward ending the horrific civil war there that as destabilized Western Europe with an influx of refugees. Let's hope that they can pull it off where others have failed. President Trump showed some diplomatic skill in not putting the failed "regime change" demand to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition that has plagued prior U.S. negotiations. Too many have already died, and millions have been displaced not to seek peace in this war-torn region.

  104. Not making a regime change is a foregone conclusion that both sides have mainly endorsed. Isn't it or not?

  105. I trust nothing that Trump says anymore. I rarely even listen. The man is a liar. I now only pay attention to policies that are actually implemented.

  106. Whose Trump sending??? I am certain someone with expertise in the history/culture of the region and speaks one of the regional languages---only kidding.

  107. Yea, no kidding. Remember H. Clinton? With all the resources of the State Department at her disposal she couldn't find anyone who could spell "reset" in Russian.

  108. Lemme guess. Jared Kushner will attend the Russian talks. What is the US price for participating? A Trump brand hotel in Moscow or will Jared launder the money?

  109. Well, that's long been the allegation:

    "Trump owes Putin. Putin owns Trump."

    Time to investigate whether that's true, eh? The House, the Senate and the FBI all have launched separate investigations, each claiming to be entirely independent of the other. If there's something there, I guess they'll find it, eh?

    Probably time to fish or cut bait, though, don't you agree? We've been hearing allegations long enough. Time for some actual evidence!

  110. Once the U.S. is on board with Russia, who is going to voice concerns about Assad's killings of his political opponents (whether real or perceived)? Trump is probably the first president- in a long time, that does not even pretend that he cares about human rights. And he wears this like a badge of honor.

  111. Could that be the reason why Trump said he'd be "honored" to meet with known human-rights abuser Kim Jong-un?

  112. The good news is that this Trump/Putin alliance could bring much needed relief to the Syrian people.

    The bad news is that this normalizes the Trump/Putin alliance.

  113. Wow, more sense in two sentences I've read in many a day.

  114. Russian President Putin, Turkish President Erdogan, Iranian Prime Minister Rouhani and Syrian President Assad all know where their nation states ethnic sectarian best interests and values lie. But America is stuck with Donald Trump.

    The most implacable determined motivated effective foes of the Islamist Sunni Muslim Arab extremists are Sunni Muslim Kurds and Turks along with Shia Muslim Arabs and Shia Muslim Iranians/Persians and ethnic Slavic Russian Orthodox Christians.

  115. Trump is not sophisticated enough to understand Syria is one of Putin's cards he keeps up his sleeve for when its needed to "negotiate". NK serves a similar function for China, although the way the two cards need to be played is a bit different. NK is a more problematic card for China than Syria is for Putin.

    Although somewhat risky, China doesn't consider NK to be a thorn in its side but does know its a significant thorn in the side of the US. Likewise Putin does not view the Syrian civil war as being much of a thorn in Russia's side, but he did just test and prove it is a thorn in Trump's side which Putin can twist when it benefits Putin.

    Actions demonstrate Putin is not currently very concerned about ISIS. Most likely because he largely keeps Russia off ISIS's front page. He leaves it to the US to dominate ISIS's front page.

    Putin focuses his attention on keeping Assad in power since Syria was always a Russian/USSR client state, provides a buffer for Russia, and is a useful card to play against the US. Ending the civil war in Russia is not actually in Putin's best interest, and ISIS is of little concern to him beyond making sure they don't actually overthrow Assad and they add value to the card Putin can play in discussions with the US.

  116. Oh great. Watch Trump send Putin lackey Jared Kushner as our representative. From what I understand he knows quite a bit about Russia.

  117. Despite all of his failings, Trump has consistently reached out to foreign leaders, both friend and foe, including Xi JInping, Duterte, Kim Jong Un and now Putin on Syria. Talking is always better than war. A cease fire of any kind is better than continued killing in Syria. It's time we pust aside confrontational "I win, you lose" posturing in every foreign policy relationship and to my astonishment, Trump appears interested in doing so. I'll never vote for him, but I applaud this move on his part.

  118. Respect your opinion but don't agree with your reasoning. I like continued sanctions which Trump is running in circles trying to lift those sanctions with brokering a deal with the devil who will get that peace accord in Syria. Don't you think once this occurs al-Assad will start in again being a tyrant. The man wasn't born to get along with people.

  119. Vincent, sanctions have never worked against any US adversary. Cuba, North Viet Nam, North Korea, Iran....the list goes on and on and on. They just hunker down and obtain the sanctioned goods from other countries and our own corporations. Sanctions merely feed the hubris of American elites who think they have power that exists only in their bloated egos.

  120. As Puty is hanging up the phone he is giggling to himself about trump, "what a useful idiot".

  121. Who didn't see this coming? This is the entire reason why Putin suggested Assad to gas his own people. To stage a faux-negotiation to make Cheeto look like such a great deal maker, cooling any heat the American public was feeling toward ousting Cheeto. Putin needs Him to remain in the White House for as long as possible because will likely (hopefully) never find a greater ally willing to press for lifting sanctions. It's called propaganda.

  122. The comment may be extreme but cynicism is the best weapon against most of today's leaders. Trump has been embraced by all of them and it's not because he's likable but amiable to most of their demands.

  123. Trump is a dream come true for all the dictators around globe. Trump can be purchased on the cheap- simply by erecting hotels in their countries with his name on it.

  124. Trump's presidency is over... President Putin will be giving the State of Union speech before Congress next January. Whoever voted from Trump- in effect- elected Putin as our next president.

  125. People, this is a good thing. Quit complaining about how the sausage is made. Its more progress than Hillary's "Reset" button ever made.

  126. How simple. Why didn't world leaders think of it.

  127. In a sign of the domestic pressure surrounding a rapprochement, Democrats seized on Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Putin to paint him again as a puppet of the Russian leader.

    Doesn't that just say it all about we Democrats. All we give a damn about is ourselves.


  128. Few people believe what comes out of the mouths of Putin and Trump anymore.

    And note to Trump: Putin is NOT the leader of Syria so can't agree to anything for Syria.

    Egads.

  129. This is a joke. Putin is supporting Issil who is helping Assad stay in power. There is no way we can trust Putin or Trump.

  130. Anyone really think the whole alleged chemical weapons attack, $100 million dollar cruise missile response, and month long chill in the Putin-Trump bromance was anything but a put-up job to make Trump look like he wasn't owned by Putin when in fact he is a fully bought and paid for Putin Puppet? This is like KGB spy 101 to take suspicion off of your mole, or in this case, your rat (FYI Putin is former KGB).

  131. Soon the sanctions will be lifted in Russia and the authoritarian movement in this world will show it has made a remarkable entry into the one country they feared had a Congress that would say "never". Will we see a contingency of Putin, Hi, Assad, Erdogan, Jong-un, Netanyahu, Duterte, with Trump in the front, marching in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Should I omit al-Assad?

  132. Poor Trump!

    If he says nice things about Putin, he's Putin's puppet.

    If he says bad things about Putin or -- even worse -- attacks some Putin ally, then it's all a smoke screen and he's still Putin's puppet.

    The vast majority of Syrians reportedly want the fighting to stop, even if Assad remains in power. Several commenters here say those Syrians don't know what's best for them, that either Assad must step down or the war must continue until he does.

    I wonder whether the Syrian people are really as dumb as some commenters think. Maybe they're not.

  133. Yes, I think that:

    "Anyone really think the whole alleged chemical weapons attack, $100 million dollar cruise missile response, and month long chill in the Putin-Trump bromance was anything but a put-up job to make Trump look like he wasn't owned by Putin when in fact he is a fully bought and paid for Putin Puppet?"

    I don't think Trump should have sent in Tomahawk missiles, and his doing so doesn't establish what the Times and others seem to think it does: that Assad had anything to do with the recent chemical-weapon attack. But if it got us a seat at the cease-fire table, good. This war needs to end, even if Assad stays, and the Syrian people overwhelmingly agree.

    Ever notice that the Times never mentions how the Syrian people feel about continuing the war? Many polls say they want the war to end, even if Assad remains in power. Maybe the Syrian people are too stupid, or brainwashed, or whatever, to know what's best for them, but then again...

  134. If The Times is going to include quotes from political hacks (ex., "bromance" quote from DNC), the article should appear under "Politics".

  135. When will the US understand that Putin has no intention of working with the west, no desire to get 'along' with the world, and absolutely no desire to see Assad step down? Obama tried, and thought he could work with Putin. No possible.

    Talk to some Russians here in the US. Most will tell you there are no freedoms, no privacy, and no economics if you're not a part of Putin's inner circle. His inner circle is made up of gangsters and KGB relics. There is no negotiating with Putin.