On the surface, the idea of partnership with another powerful and capable military to share the burden of fighting the Islamic State may sound tempting. Russia has devoted considerable resources to broadcasting its “victorious war” in Syria, airing endless footage of spectacular airstrikes and trumpeting supposed territorial gains. The slick Kremlin media narrative and coordinated messaging campaigns have helped create powerful myths about its effectiveness in Syria and in the war against ISIS.
But that’s exactly what they are: myths. The truth is that it is both pointless and dangerous for America to fight ISIS alongside Russia. Pointless because the Russians are not there to fight ISIS — their real goals in the region have nothing to do with eliminating the terror group, but with empowering Assad and other anti-American allies. Dangerous because the United States and Russia share neither common goals nor common tactics. Our forces are not interoperable, and neither is the way we fight wars. Russians operate differently from Americans at every level of conflict — tactically, operationally, and strategically. There is no established trust between our nations or our forces, and the place to build that trust is not during a major operation where our goals are fundamentally misaligned.