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Putin Is No Partner on Terrorism

It's a Mistake for Washington to Count Moscow an Ally

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Russian Geographical Society's award ceremony at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, November 2016.  Sergei Ilnitsky / REUTERS

Of all the illusions surrounding U.S.–Russian relations, none is more dangerous than the notion that Russia can be a partner in the war on terrorism. Yet U.S. President-elect Donald Trump appears to be willing to make a massive bet on Russia’s good intentions. In a recent interview with Time, Trump said that working with Russia to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) can help the United States save both lives and money. “Why not get along with Russia?” he asked. “They’re effective and smart.”

But Islamist extremism is an ideology. It cannot be defeated only militarily. It needs to be discredited, which makes the tactics and principles that guide the struggle against it of paramount importance. It is for this reason that a partnership with Russia in the war on terrorism will be courting a crisis far worse than the one that already exists.

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