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A nation must think before it acts.
The war in Syria is reaching a decisive point. As the campaign against ISIL winds down, the battle for influence over the final settlement in Syria is heating up. This larger war—geopolitically more consequential than the campaign against ISIL—is characterized by shifting and sometimes surprising coalitions of states and non-state actors. Despite some close calls, the United States and Russia have been effective in what both sides call the “de-confliction” of operations in Syria, but it’s doubtful that these efforts can serve as a foundation for more meaningful efforts to put Syria back together. Securing a peaceful future for Syria and preventing the war there from further destabilizing the region—and possibly escalating into a regional war—will require new ideas. It will also require all parties to the conflict, both Syrian and foreign, to compromise on their objectives—something that no side looks ready to do.