NEW YORK – There has been no shortage of scrutiny of what Russian President Vladimir Putin is up to in Syria and why. Much of the analysis, though, has been narrowly focused on the short term and may be too negative in assessing his actions’ likely long-term consequences.

What we know is that Putin has decided to come to the aid of Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime. Russian bombs and missiles are now raining down on an array of armed groups that have been fighting Syrian government forces, w...

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