Tom Friedman's NY Times column on 10/4/16 argued that we need much more forceful sanctions against Russia and Syria. This was my response:
Instead of dismissing Putin and Assad as pure villains, out to kill their people and destroy the world, why don't we pay attention to THEIR difficulties. In Putin's case, if you read William Perry's On the Brink autobiography, it's clear that GW Bush's effort to encircle Russia with missiles freaked him and the Russians out. The plunge in oil prices threatened to destroy Putin, so like so many leaders he turned to jingoism and blaming external forces. It seems to me that by understanding Putin's issues, we have a better chance of getting his cooperation than by trying to pressure him. As to Assad, he and the Alawi tribe are desperate. If they lose, the Sunnis will almost certainly bankrupt them all, if not simply masscre them. Their back is to the wall. Does this not suggest other ways of dealing with Russia and Syria than just threatening a war that could easily become nuclear?