Two years before the final defeat of Adolf Hitler—at a time when German armies still occupied a significant portion of the European part of the USSR and Festung Europa seemed to be impenetrable to the Western Allies—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin had already begun discussions about the fate of postwar Europe. Even when the ultimate victory still seemed to be in doubt, the Allies had started to assign zones and reconstitute borders.
What is surprising is that, when it comes to the final defeat of the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq—the elimination of the so-called caliphate as a discrete physical, geographic entity—the all-important discussions about the future that should have been taking place among all the stakeholders were repeatedly postponed. The Kurdish crisis is but the first serious manifestation of the problems at hand because critical questions about “the day after” were not answered. More seriously is the continued prospect of a clash between the two main coalitions—one led by the United States, the other by Russia—over the disposition of a post-IS Syria.