The fact of the matter is that no serious student of Russian affairs would deny that Moscow now has more power in the Middle East than at any time since at least 1973, if not longer. Until now, the Russians have had to pry that influence away from the U.S. and its allies through venal promises of arms and unconditional political support to some of the worst regimes in the region. Now, that influence has simply been handed to Moscow by an American administration seeking an exit from a strategic dead-end of its own making. We understand that apologists of such a policy will want to put the best possible face on this disaster. But the debate needs to be kept in the realm of historical reality, rather than based on hopeful reinterpretations of Russian history and foreign policy that have nothing to do with how the Kremlin actually conducts itself.
Tom Nichols and John Schindler are professors of national security at the Naval War College, and fellows of the International History Institute at Boston University. The views expressed are entirely their own.