Can the United States and Russia Cooperate? Analyzing the results of bilateral and multilateral cooperation on the Syrian conflict
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The discourse regarding US/Russia relations focuses intensely on the competitive nature between these two powers. Policy makers echo strategies of the past by making recommendations which embrace competitiveness and mutual mistrust as unavoidable characteristics for future relations. Although these perspectives are not entirely misled, they fall short of illustrating the finer nuances of relations. This paper offers an extensive analysis of three instances of cooperation between the US and Russia in Syria between 2011 and 2017 in order to offer concrete observations about how these antagonistic powers work together. The analysis shows that although the US and Russia are competitive and often have opposing agendas, this does not necessarily prevent them from cooperative engagement that produces substantive results. Their polarity can even contribute to more effective cooperation. This paper also draws conclusions about what circumstances improve the effectiveness of US/Russia cooperation and makes recommendations for future mutual efforts in Syria.