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If anything at all has been learned from the past five years of Levantine murder and mayhem it is this: What happens in Syria does not stay in Syria.There is something even more menacing for the world beyond Syria: lessons Vladimir Putin may be learning from Syria to be applied elsewhere.What is Putin hearing and seeing now, more than a year after intervening militarily in Syria?Given what Putin sees and has seen, is it unreasonable to assume that when he catalogues American performance in Syria he draws conclusions about the United States that transcend Syria? For the people of Syria, for Syria's neighbors, for American allies in Europe and for the Obama administration, Syria has been the problem from hell. Yes, Obama really did want Assad to step aside. Those of us who beg this administration, in its dying days, to end the free ride for mass murder in Syria both to protect innocent civilians and to resurrect the prospect of a negotiated settlement, cannot pretend that the Russian presence changes nothing; that somehow only the operations of the Assad regime are to be complicated and damaged by actions we recommend.
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