World War II Lessons for Syria

The U.S. and Russia once found a way past their differences and they can again.

By + More
WideModern_dday_060513.jpg
Ducks (amphibious trucks) and a half-track follow foot troops ashore during the invasion of Normandy on a 100-mile front along the French coast by allied forces on June 6, 1944. This was a turning point for the Allies in World War II, known as D-Day.

Tomorrow, June 22, will mark the 72nd anniversary of the start of Operation Barbarossa – the launch of the Nazi offensive against the U.S.S.R. On a personal note, this date is full of meaning and feelings of gratitude to my grandfather, Solomon Epshteyn, who I sadly can no longer thank in person.

My grandfather, a historian, was drafted into the Soviet Army on almost the very day of the attack, fought the Nazis for four long years all the way to victory and lived to tell me his war story as I was growing up.

Thank you, grandpa, both for your service and for taking the time to share history with me.

[Read Nicholas Dungan: What D-Day Means for America Today.]

From the historical and international affairs perspective, the opening of the Eastern front was the starting point of one of the most fascinating coalitions in world history. The United States of America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, three countries with overwhelming geopolitical, economic and historical differences between them, joined to defeat the scourge of Nazism.

The world now is not nearly as linear as it was in June of 1941; there is no one clear enemy. There are however, clear problem spots which require the ability to work together from competing international players – first and foremost in Syria.

[See a collection of political cartoons on defense spending.]

Neither the U.S. nor Russia wants to see Syria destabilized and left with a power vacuum. Therefore, while we are currently seeing heated rhetoric from both sides – the U.S. publicly supporting the rebels in Syria and Russia vehemently opposing that decision – that should in no way preclude back-channel discussions and, hopefully, cooperation.

History is there to be learned from, and the specific lesson that both the U.S. and Russia should be drawing from the Allied coalition in World War II is that the two states can and should compromise on the solution in Syria.

  • Read Peter Roff: The New Jersey GOP’s Secret Senate Race Weapon
  • Read Robert Schlesinger: Polls Shows GOP’s Conservative Base at Odds With the Rest of America
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad