Well, first of all, Abrahms is a zionist conservative, (check out this from his think tank's front page) and Glaser is from the fucking Cato Institute. keep that in mind. But, anyway, this idea of "Assad must go" wasn't actually the Obama administration's party line for a long time. Remember that Obama didn't commit airstrikes against Assad after the first time he used chemical weapons in Syria, even after he had marked that as a red line. The US proxies in the region, at least since the US has thrown all of its weight behind YPG/SDF, haven't fought Assad much at all, focusing almost completely on ISIS. This same narrative also kind of blows a hole in the Assad diehard line of "it's ISIS or Assad," because the SAA has done precious little fighting with ISIS, in reality. This is contested, but if you find a map of Syria over time since ISIS took large amounts of land in the country, you will see the red mostly overtaking the green, and the yellow mostly overtaking the black and grey. The Assad regime really barely controlled any territory directly connected to ISIS strongholds, either being separated by Nusra or FSA to the north and east or by large areas of desert (see the path to Deir ezZor, which was blazed so quickly because most of the territory they took on the way to relieve that siege was unguarded desert). Also, I do not think we can talk about the ISIS problem being 'solved.' They are beaten, but few of the underlying problems that allowed their rise in Syria have been truly solved. The regime was weak when the revolution broke out, in the way that a lot of Arab Spring regimes were weak, and for a lot of the same reasons, which essentially, were state failure. Failure to liberalize economically in a way that actually benefited most people the way the old Arab Socialist/Ba'athist paradigm did, failure to do any kind of meaningful political reform that gave Syrian Sunni any kind of political power, failure to even actually effectively govern in many of the northern and Kurdish areas of the country. These are the conditions which led to the revolution, which have not been solved by any stretch of the imagination. Essentially, sure, ISIS was beaten back without Assad going, but he didn't do much of it, so I don't really see the point. None of the problems which raised the question of his regime's future in the first place have been satisfactorily answered, either. "The evidence of Assad sponsoring Islamic State, however, was about as strong as for Saddam Hussein sponsoring Al Qaeda." Indeed, in terms of direct support, but anyone seriously looking at this situation can recognize that Assad viewed FSA and Nusra as more serious or at least more immediate threats to his continued rule than ISIS, mostly because 1. like I said, ISIS was rarely encroaching on territory actively controlled by the regime and 2. western regimes were backing these groups to various extents against him, while they were extremely hostile to ISIS. Again, you only have to look at the map, and see who was controlling the vast majority (by population) of territory the regime has retaken since 2014. It was not ISIS. Which is why this is so stupid: "In marked contrast to pundit expectations, the group’s demise was inversely related to Assad’s power. Islamic State’s fortunes decreased as his influence in the country increased." Obviously, pundits tend to be stupid and wrong, but this reading of the situation doesn't even make sense. The coalition and the SDF have done the vast majority of heavy lifting against ISIS concurrent with Assad and Russia retaking Aleppo and making gains in Damascus and Homs. This does not mean, and it is transparently stupid and manipulative to present it as such, that because those things were concurrent, they have a causal relationship. The actual correlation is not wrong, but it also tells us nothing at all by itself. He does similar things throughout this article. Gee whiz Max, where do you think they got the opportunity to enter and occupy Syria? Could it be that the regime was weak and fighting other insurgencies, who also rose up out of opportunity opened because the regime was weak and doing poor governance? This however is true: As in Iraq a decade earlier, regime change in Syria would have created the ultimate power vacuum for Islamic State to flourish. And also gets to my last point - he is right about pundits, and that they were always advocating for regime change, which we should also oppose. But, he ends his article talking about how Assad's noble war on terror rages on. He is for the war on terror, which we know to be essentially an excuse for all kinds of invasions and bombing campaigns, he has just learned a lesson from Iraq that invasion and regime change is not the best strategy for it. Which, good, but also, that should not be the only lesson you learned from Iraq.