Is Putin more realistic on Syria than Obama?

Story highlights

  • U.S. said Tuesday it will send "a specialized expeditionary targeting force" to help conduct raids in Iraq
  • Michael Desch: Syria may be problem that requires more hard-headed realism

Michael Desch is a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and co-director of the university's International Security Center. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)President Barack Obama took advantage of the fact that both he and Vladimir Putin were in Paris for this week's multilateral climate talks to give the Russian President some strategic advice about Russia's military intervention in Syria. The advice is particularly timely since Turkey, America's NATO ally, shot down a Russian plane last week near the Turkish-Syrian border.

"I think Mr. Putin understands that with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he's looking for," President Obama said.
This is surely good advice. But I wonder whether we should follow it ourselves? After all, if we are talking about recent military interventions, it is hard to see how our ill-fated experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria could make President Obama think we have a better sense of strategy for this wickedly complicated part of the world than his counterpa