Hosam Katan / Reuters An aerial view shows damaged buildings in Seif El Dawla neighborhood in Aleppo, April 23, 2015.

Should the United States Work With Russia in Syria?

Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In

We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of pieces on Russia's intervention in Syria. To complement these individual articles, we decided to ask a broad pool of experts for their take. As with previous surveys, we approached dozens of authorities with deep specialized expertise relevant to the question at hand, together with a few leading generalists in the field. Participants were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a proposition and to rate their confidence level in their opinion; the answers from those who responded are below:

The United States should work with Russia to fight ISIS.


Poll Results: The United States Should Work With Russia to Fight ISIS

Full Responses:

DMITRY ADAMSKY is Associate Professor, School of Government, and Institute for Policy and Strategy, at IDC Herzliya.
Agree, Confidence Level 8     


ILAN BERMAN is Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C.
Disagree, Confidence Level 7
The question presumes that Russia’s primary motivation in Syria is indeed a broad counterterrorism campaign. In fact, Russia’s intervention there is driven by multiple overlapping motives—of which the fight against the Islamic State (also called ISIS) is just one. The outcomes that Moscow seeks (including strengthening the Bashar al-Assad regime, preserving Russia’s military access to the Mediterranean, and gaining leverage for its policies in Ukraine) are all overwhelmingly inimical to long-term U.S. interests. Thus, although Washington and Moscow may share a tactical interest in eroding the Islamic State, embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current approach to Syria does not make for sound U.S. policy.

DANIEL BYMAN is a Professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Agree, Confidence Level 7    
Russia is not really fighting ISIS. It is propping up the Syrian regime. If Russia were truly engaged against ISIS, its promises and desires would be deserving of a serious look. But it’s simply backing a brutal

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