Hillary, Trump and Putin
Donald Trump gets Valdimir Putin in a way that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton does.
Syria is Assad's, and it will remain Assad's so long as Putin (and his successors) will it to be Assad's. Putin will allow neither ISIS nor the “Syrian rebels”' (whoever and whatever they/that may be) to take Syria from Assad/Russia and Putin/Russia will never leave Syria or the Middle-East again. It is inconceivable that all the powers in the world would attempt to or succeed in militarily expelling Russia from its new position in the region, and diplomatic endeavors to do the same would be risible!
Having a firm foothold in the region will evermore be in Russia's vital national interest not only for its warm-water port but also for Russia's ability to dictate realities in that region irrespective of positions taken by the West regarding the region.
Since the time of Eisenhower, every US administration has successfully squeezed Russia out of a strong position in the region: Then “Along Came Barack,” and the rest will be history.
Trump is not agnostic about Putin. Rather, Trump is pragmatic about Putin as were the other Allies about Josef Stalin in WW II---As LBJ would say, better to have him inside the tent “spitting” out rather than outside the tent “spitting” in!
Paul Mirengoff of Powerline agrees with me that that Putin is, internally and externally, thuggish, but he poses no real threat to the world---so long as he is not threatened. I stipulate that Putin is a tyrannical dictator who is wielding Russia's military muscle in dangerous ways that that have the potential to spin out of his control, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I use that old saw deliberately because, for me, it perfectly captures the hysterical and ahistorical misunderstanding of Putin's actions by Team Obama, Team Clinton, The Mainstream Media, Europe, most of the commentariat, et. al.
Now, I am not a Putin apologist nor do I expect readers to fully agree with me, but I believe that Putin's actions are fully-rational and that much of the talk of such things as a Syrian No-Fly Zone and an intervention in the Ukrainian Civil War is totally irrational. To understand Putin's actions one must understand, most importantly, that Putin regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as one of history's greatest failures and that he intends to overcome, if not reverse, that failure.
And, secondly, Putin understands that---sorry to readers with delicate sensibilities---Barack Hussein Obama II is a pussy, and that, because Obama is such a timid, passive person, he, Putin, has been and is pretty much free to whatever he has to do to reclaim Russia's stature, power, and position in the world.
Putin is also, rightly, paranoid (Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte ,the Crimean War Alliance, and Hitler) about what he perceives as the threats that Russia faces from the forces now arrayed against it, and he intends to either coopt those threats (e.g., China and Turkey) or confront and stymie those threats by forceful actions in the Baltics, Ukraine, and Syria.
For the first time that I recall, I must say that much of what Putin is doing is, well, Bush's fault! Bush' greatest error was his pushing NATO to Russia's border, and we saw what happened in Georgia after that.
Putin's reclamation of the Crimea and his actions in Ukraine are the direct result of the actions of Obama and the EU to shift Ukraine’s economy away from Russia, and Putin's actions in the Baltic are the result of the West's similar foolishness in pushing NATO eastward. Putin has neither the will nor the means to threaten some form of Russian Expansionism, but he thoroughly intends to enforce his version of the Monroe Doctrine to his west and to capitalize on the West's failures in the Middle East.
Trump's practical realism is much more sensible than the idealism reflected by others when it comes to Putin and Russia.
p.s. I would be remiss were I not to say that the rest of Mr. Mirengoff's piece, is, as is usual with his writings, spot-on in his analysis of the debate and other issues raised in it.