Yes, Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer went there with an article titled: Putin’s Quagmire in Syria Proves Obama Prescient. They describe an excursion that was meant to last a few months now stretching into the possibility of years.

With the mission in its third month, Putin is pouring materiel and manpower into Syria at a pace unanticipated by lawmakers already struggling to meet his spending goals. The plunging price of oil is sapping revenue and prolonging Russia’s first recession in six years…

On the financial side, Putin’s original investment of $4 million per day has now doubled to $8 million per day – or $3 billion on an annualized basis. From a military perspective, Michael Crowley has more details about how things are getting bogged down.

“The Syrian regime has had tactical gains, but Russian air strikes have not been a game-changer in terms of allowing the Syrian army to move in” and hold territory, said Chris Kozak, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that closely tracks the Syrian battlefield…

But that ground offensive has mostly sputtered, thanks to what sources called poor coordination with Syrian and Iranian forces, leaving the battlefield map little changed.

If any of that feels familiar, it’s because it is not that different from what the U.S. experienced with our military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It should be a lesson to folks like Senators McCain and Graham who want us to get involved in yet another quagmire. But no, I’m not going to hold my breath.

I am reminded of the fact that it was only two months ago that Steve Kroft suggested to President Obama that Putin was challenging his leadership in Syria. Here’s how he responded:

When I came into office…Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally…

Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.

Way back in the 1950’s the great Pete Seeger wrote a song with the refrain, “When will they ever learn?” It’s pretty clear who has/hasn’t learned this lesson about quagmires in the Middle East and what real leadership means.

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