Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 12:34:37 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Putin’s Syria plan and America’s reactions

By
16th-May-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Stephen Sestanovich :
There is no more hopeful way of describing President Trump's foreign policy than to say it is slowly becoming 'normal.' We are told that sensible and experienced advisers have growing influence and that disruption for its own sake is no longer prized. I'm hopeful too, but a lot of evidence still points the other way.
For that reason, Trump's willingness to endorse Russian proposals to "de-escalate" the civil war in Syria will be a crucial test of policy normalcy.
The president, optimists could argue, has distinguished his approach from Barack Obama's in three ways that should strengthen his hand in the Middle East: He reached out to traditional allies of the United States, cultivating the presidents of Turkey and Egypt and announcing visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia. He expanded the American military effort against major strongholds of the Daesh in Iraq and Syria. And - the best-known move - he ordered a cruise-missile strike on Syrian forces that had used chemical weapons. What better way to show other players, especially Russia's president, Vladimir V Putin, that the United States was back in the game?
If Trump were to succeed, skeptics like me would have to admit that he knows how to get things done - and to get others to help him. But his effort to restore American influence is floundering.
Washington isn't leading in these efforts. It's following in Moscow's wake. Putin's plan of de-escalation, if accepted, would enhance Iran's regional role and consolidate the regime of Bashar Al Assad of Syria, the very outcomes administration spokesmen have said they were trying to avoid. American officials say they want to learn more about the agreement Russia has reached with Turkey and Iran, but one telling detail - that American warplanes would not be able to fly over the so-called de-escalation zones - shows who's calling the shots.
Before he associates himself with this scheme, President Trump should ask his advisers to explain to him why a seemingly traditional effort to strengthen American policy has produced such a disappointing result. He would find the answers instructive far beyond the Middle East.
First, although Trump's headline-grabbing cruise-missile strike won him praise for decisiveness, it changed little on the ground. If the Pentagon is right that the United States managed to knock out 20 per cent of the Syrian Air Force, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis must surely regret that he didn't push for two or even three strikes. Knocking out 60 per cent of Syria's planes, especially while Russia stood by helplessly - that would have been a game changer. Someone might tell the president what Richard Nixon used to say: It takes only a little more effort to really solve a problem than to almost solve it.
Second, if Trump felt he had to endorse the Russian initiative on Syria to prove that his strikes had had an impact, his impatience gave President Putin priceless leverage. This is an odd, even embarrassing, about-face for an administration that ridiculed Barack Obama's "long game" in the Middle East and the "strategic patience" strategy that many administrations have followed toward North Korea. Being too patient may well invite others to take advantage of you, but so does not being patient enough. The president's advisers need to persuade him that a mania for quick results is a first step toward failure.
Third, although Trump aims to mend relations with estranged Middle Eastern friends of the United States, he seems focused more on personal atmospherics than on our allies' substantive concerns.
Finally, the president should understand the price he pays for not enunciating clear policies. In the space of a month he let Secretary of State Rex Tillerson say that the United States did not seek Assad's ouster, then that it did, only to move toward an agreement that strengthens the Syrian leader.
Trump calls this confusion a strategy of "unpredictability," but by now he ought to see how self-defeating it is. If other countries think unpredictability means that the president of the United States will agree to unwise concessions, they have every reason to challenge him. Suppose Trump asked Secretary Tillerson: What would most help you in your job as America's chief diplomat? The secretary's honest reply would have to be: Make United States policy as predictable as possible. Only after the president and his advisers figure out what they want, and how to get it, can American officials tell their foreign colleagues where the United States actually stands.
All these lessons will be doubly relevant if Trump aims to revive the idea of a rapprochement with Russia. To get Putin to pull out of eastern Ukraine, the president first needs to convince him that there's no other way to win relief from Western sanctions. If Trump wants Moscow to rethink its approach to arms control (including compliance with existing treaties), he must show Putin that Russia's own policies lead to an arms race that it cannot win. Before Putin decides to work with Nato, he will have to be convinced that he can't do better by trying to divide it.
Sooner or later, Trump will see that better Russian-American relations depend more on effective diplomacy than on imagined personal rapport. They require not just a balance of power but also predictability, patience, scrutiny of the fine print and negotiators who can speak for their boss.
Experts enjoy lecturing the president about the differences between the real estate business and foreign policy. (I've done it myself.) But surely the two realms overlap in ways that Trump can learn from. Over many years, for example, his company was never able to build a big hotel in Moscow. My guess is that too many Russians wanted too large a cut and that no one ever made a credible and attractive offer. Whatever the reason, no deal came together.
That Trump never did get his hotel in Moscow may turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to him - one questionable connection to Russia that doesn't have to be investigated.That example offers a lesson for today. The deal Putin seeks in Syria would empower America's adversaries far more than America's friends. The president would be better off without it.

(Stephen Sestanovich is a professor at Columbia and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation. - NYT Syndicate)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Sports »

Senior Operative Director (Head of Games & Sports Department) of Walton Group FM Iqbal Bin Anwar Dawn (second from left) speaking at a press conference at the Club House in Army Golf Club on Tuesday.


Entertainment »

Sonakshi Sinha in Malaysia


Happy Bhag Jayegi took the audience by surprise two years ago when it turned out to be a laughter riot with its hilarious plot and impressive acting by its lead cast. Diana Penty stood out in it and was appreciated for her performance. It was a hilarious story of how ...

Editorial »

Police must not feel free to abuse police power against police discipline


A MOTORCYCLE was stolen from in front of a high police official's residence last week. Motorbikes are the easiest target for thieves. They either stealthily take away the bikes or stop the riders at night and snatch away their bikes. Sometimes, the bikers are knifed or beaten up. Last year, ...

International »

Dinner over, Trump, Macron get down to business


AFP :After a friendly dinner at a US landmark, US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were to get down to business Tuesday on divisive issues like the Iran nuclear accord and international trade.They were to meet face to face for half an hour, and then again ...

Editorial »

Justice delayed justice denied


FIVE years have elapsed after the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar which is known as deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest structural failure in the modern human history. At least 1136 garment workers were killed on the spot and 1169 received severe injuries when the multi-storied ...

Cricket »

Shakib, Tamim to play for ICC World XI against West Indies


Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and top order batsman Tamim Iqbal have been included in the ICC World XI to play West Indies team in a one-off T20I match at Lord's on May 31.The match is being organised to raise fund for the reconstruction of stadiums that were damaged in ...

Sports »

(Left to right)) Uttam Mundy, CEO, PGTI; Arshi Haider, Chairman of bti; Siddikur Rahman, Professional Golfer; Asif Ibrahim, President, BPGA; Johnson Poh, Professional Golfer, Honey Baisoya, Professional Golfer unveiling the bti Open 2018 Trophy on Monday.


Entertainment »

Shilpa Shetty Kundra is Inspirational Celebrity of the Year


A successful wellness guru Shilpa Shetty Kundra is one of cinema’s most loved names. Her rise has nothing short of meteoric. This actress turned entrepreneur has to her credit successful yoga DVDs, a health and fitness channel is also a top-selling selling author of two books based on her mantra ...

Entertainment »

Richa Chadha’s new song look inspired by Parveen Babi’s Jawani Janeman


Actress Richa Chadha is considered to be the front-runner in Bollywood for experimenting with her looks and character in the films she does. Right from playing an old woman Nagma Khatoon in her first commercial success hit, Gangs of Wasseypur series to her soon to release film Daasdev, Richa has ...

City »

President Abdul Hamid receiving an annual audit report from a delegation led by Auditor and Comptroller General Masud Ahmed at Bangabhaban on Monday.


International »

Child rape case heightens India`s Hindu-Muslim divide


AFP, Jammu :The internet is being cut for hours on end in Jammu as authorities try to halt protests that have grown in the Kashmir winter capital since the rape-murder of an eight year old girl opened a new front in India's Hindu-Muslim divide.With near daily protests held across the ...

Editorial »

Govt must answer what happened to the force disappearances


MEMBERS of around 80 families joined a programme under the banner of "Mayer Daak", a platform of disappearance victims' family members, from across the country on April 21st, as per report of a local daily. Speaking at the event, supported by rights activists, family members slammed the state for denying ...

Entertainment »

Alia Bhatt spies on movie goers


Raazi trailer was launched recently. Last week, in partnership with FB & PVR, Alia spied on theatre audiences watching the trailer on the theatre screen and appeared on a two-way facebook LIVE in front of them and interacted with the audience as they could both see each other. This was ...

Football »

Neymar to be at peak of powers at World Cup: Ronaldinho


Xinhua, Rio De Janeiro :Brazil legend Ronaldinho has backed compatriot Neymar to make a full recovery from foot surgery in time for the World Cup in Russia.Neymar has been sidelined since suffering a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot while playing for Paris Saint-Germain in late February.He underwent surgery ...

International »

Iran threatens to `vigorously` resume enrichment if US quits deal


AFP, New York : Iran warned Saturday it is ready to "vigorously" resume nuclear enrichment if the United States ditches the 2015 nuclear deal, and said further "drastic measures" are being considered in response to a US exit.Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news