Every generation of American diplomats has a figure who becomes the face of the era in foreign policy, a Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, or Richard Holbrooke. The years of pain and sorrow otherwise known as the Forever Wars may have found their own symbol in Brett McGurk.
The alliance has proved remarkably enduring, and rarely have Russia and Turkey enjoyed such a stretch of fruitful cooperation. But so much hinges on the personal relationship between Putin and Erdoğan. Not even they can change the brittle nature of a relationship between two powers that have been rivals for centuries.
It was a small example of a truth readily apparent outside Washington: Americans have an instinctive concern for what happens in the world. And they prefer to face challenges head on.