Putin is Beating Obama in Syria (and beyond)

The attempt to reduce the level of discourse to trivial matters in this year’s presidential campaign continues to divert attention (as intended) away from any in-depth debate over the real challenges facing the United States going forward. This is most notable, and dangerous, on issues of defense and foreign policy. For example, the question of semantics over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin should be called a “leader” or a “dictator” risks overshadowing the question of whether Putin’s policies have been more effective in the Middle East than have been the policies of President Barack Obama. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. As the duly elected president, Putin can properly be called the leader of his country, especially as he continues to enjoy very high public approval ratings. He has, however, used his strength to amass more political power, including placing all major media under state control. But the real issue is how he is advancing Russian interests on the world stage in competition with the U.S. and its allies in key hotspots. Continue reading