Vladimir Putin saves West from its hubris

That is a headline I never thought I’d write, a sentiment I never expected to utter. For his own reasons and primarily in order to buy time and tactical breathing space for his main Middle Eastern ally, Bashar al-Assad, President Putin has set Russian policy in a direction that has bought western political leaders time. Doing this, he has played on and with a deep reluctance in western public opinion to support military action by our governments – and a reluctance that has run especially wide and deep because of the lack of clarity about what it can achieve, what the end state would be. Bruno Braak interviewed me recently for the War and Peace Talk website (highly recommended) about Syria among other topics and here is a chunk of what I said. My question is to ask why President Obama, President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron have been so focused on using the military instrument. My suggestion is that they think again and identify alternatives. And my certainty is that there is no chance of bringing the Syrian civil war to a peaceful end without talking with President Putin and Russia, President Rouhani and Iran, and President Assad and the current Syrian regime.