Home/Daniel Larison/Syria Is Not a Litmus Test for U.S.-Russian Relations

Syria Is Not a Litmus Test for U.S.-Russian Relations

Ariel Cohen’s article for The National Interest sums up the folly at the heart of hawkish criticism of current Russia policy:

The G-20 meeting was a missed opportunity to recognize that the “reset” policy has indeed reset U.S.-Russia relations—back to the Cold War—and is in dire need of reassessment. For starters, Obama should have told Putin that Russian cooperation on Iran and Syria are the litmus test of the U.S.-Russian relations.

It is insulting to the intelligence of any moderately informed reader to suggest that the marked improvement in U.S.-Russian relations since the post-Cold War nadir in 2008 represents a return to Cold War levels of distrust and antagonism. Opponents of current Russia policy would like to see a return to extremely poor state of relations between America and Russia c. 2008, and they have actively opposed all efforts to repair the relationship since then. Russian cooperation on Iran and Syria cannot possibly be the litmus test of U.S.-Russian relations. That guarantees that relations between the U.S. and Russia will be very poor. The conflict in Syria isn’t remotely important enough to the U.S. to jeopardize genuine American interests that rely on Russian cooperation, which includes the ability to supply and withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. It is obvious that inveterate opponents of the “reset” would like to use the conflict in Syria as an excuse to wreck relations with Russia. This is something they have desired for some reason for the last three years. This doesn’t serve U.S. interests in the least, and it is actually quite dangerous for U.S. interests elsewhere to insist that Russia adopt the U.S. position on Syria.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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