The hope was that Russia would be a restraining influence on its ally Syria. Instead, it became a partner in crime.
On Monday, a frustrated Obama administration ended diplomatic contact with Russia because of fruitless efforts to work with Moscow to end the war in Syria. With the U.S. backing the rebels and the Russians supporting the Syria government, there was logic in thinking the two powers could push the warring groups toward a solution.
Russia, however, did not prove to be a broker for peace. In attacking anti-government groups, the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin, like those of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have made no effort to spare the lives of civilians. The bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syria forces resulted in the deaths of and injuries to children whose photos have horrified Americans and people the world over.
The repeated targeting of Syrian hospitals frayed the Moscow-Washington D.C. alliance and the air strike September 19 on a U.N. humanitarian aid convoy appears to have been the last straw. Russia and Syria have denied bombing the convoy but there are no other candidates.
The horrific ongoing tragedy in Syria is fueling the refugee crisis that is roiling nations around the world, including the United States. There are limits to what the U.S. and its Western allies can do given the painful lessons of Iraq, where the impossibility of imposing a military solution in the Middle East was proven beyond doubt.
It should be noted that the brutal strong-arming of Mr. Putin, who still has an occupying army in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory, is seen as praiseworthy by Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump, That reveals all any American should need to know about the kind of foreign policy he would favor.