When it comes to Israel and the Middle East, there is one element that seemed to fit into the neoconservative narrative. Mainly that the evil Putin was providing support for Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad, who in turn an ally of the Ayatollahs in Iran—Damascus and Iran being Israel’s implacable enemies—and that Trump wasn’t doing anything about that. The president was even willing to make a deal with Putin over Syria, suggested that being a Never Trumper, plus demonizing Putin, plus supporting Israel make for a consistent equation.
It worked until last week, when even the smartest Never Trumper could not resolve a painful cognitive dissonance. Netanyahu and Putin met in Moscow, and struck a deal under which Israel would refrain from taking steps to challenge Assad’s control of Syria—breaking with neoconservative dogma that “Assad must go”—in exchange for Russian pledges to bring to an end to Iranian military presence across the Syrian-Israeli border.
The bottom line is that Israel would agree to turning Syria into a military protectorate of Putin’s Russia. This is an outcome that President Trump is likely to support, demonstrating that both Washington and Jerusalem, as well as Moscow, prioritize their national security interests over any aspiration to do regime change in Syria, to export democracy to that country.