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When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement—of which Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad wer When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement—of which Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad were committed devotees—came to power in 1963. Washington sought to purge Arab nationalist influence from the Syrian state and the Arab world more broadly because it was a threat to its agenda of establishing global primacy and promoting business-friendly investment climates for US banks, investors and corporations throughout the world. Arab nationalists aspired to unify the world’s 400 million Arabs into a single super-state capable of challenging United States hegemony in West Asia and North Africa and becoming a major player on the world stage free from the domination of the former colonial powers and the US. Washington had waged long wars on the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement—Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iraq’s Saddam, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Assads, often allying with particularly violent forms of political Islam to undermine its Arab nationalist foes. By 2011, only one pan-Arabist state remained in the region—Syria. In Washington’s Long War on Syria Stephen Gowans examines the decades-long struggle between secular Arab nationalism, political Islam, and United States imperialism for control of Syria, the self-proclaimed Den of Arabism, and last secular pan-Arabist state in the region.


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When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement—of which Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad wer When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement—of which Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad were committed devotees—came to power in 1963. Washington sought to purge Arab nationalist influence from the Syrian state and the Arab world more broadly because it was a threat to its agenda of establishing global primacy and promoting business-friendly investment climates for US banks, investors and corporations throughout the world. Arab nationalists aspired to unify the world’s 400 million Arabs into a single super-state capable of challenging United States hegemony in West Asia and North Africa and becoming a major player on the world stage free from the domination of the former colonial powers and the US. Washington had waged long wars on the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement—Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iraq’s Saddam, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Assads, often allying with particularly violent forms of political Islam to undermine its Arab nationalist foes. By 2011, only one pan-Arabist state remained in the region—Syria. In Washington’s Long War on Syria Stephen Gowans examines the decades-long struggle between secular Arab nationalism, political Islam, and United States imperialism for control of Syria, the self-proclaimed Den of Arabism, and last secular pan-Arabist state in the region.

30 review for Washington's Long War on Syria

  1. 5 out of 5

    Khaled

    The perfect book to understand the recent war in Syria in clear prose.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zulfiqar

    “That the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in the uprising that erupted three months later was confirmed in 2012 by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. A leaked report from the agency said that the insurgency was sectarian and led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State. The report went on to say that the insurgents were supported by the West, Arab Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey. The analysis correctly predicted the establishment of a “Salafist “That the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in the uprising that erupted three months later was confirmed in 2012 by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. A leaked report from the agency said that the insurgency was sectarian and led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State. The report went on to say that the insurgents were supported by the West, Arab Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey. The analysis correctly predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality,” an Islamic state, in Eastern Syria, noting that this was desired by the insurgency’s foreign backers, who wanted to see the secular Arab nationalists isolated and cut-off from Iran. [29] Documents prepared by US Congress researchers in 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels was based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it was simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers acknowledged that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the secular Arab nationalist government in Damascus was unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East. In point of fact, they noted that Washington’s preference was for secular dictatorships (Egypt) and monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.) The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering open market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration. [30]” (What’s left. The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t October 22, 2016. Gowned, Stephen)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Martinez

    A very useful analysis of the key dynamics of the war in Syria. Gowans does an excellent job of situating the war in terms of the United States' ongoing war against Arab nationalism, which poses a clear threat to imperialist interests; genuine Arab unity, independence and socialist orientation is anathema to a global economic and political order that is designed by Wall Street. The author also usefully explains the role played by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the UAE, as well as the origins, i A very useful analysis of the key dynamics of the war in Syria. Gowans does an excellent job of situating the war in terms of the United States' ongoing war against Arab nationalism, which poses a clear threat to imperialist interests; genuine Arab unity, independence and socialist orientation is anathema to a global economic and political order that is designed by Wall Street. The author also usefully explains the role played by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the UAE, as well as the origins, ideology and role of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. The book is somewhat repetitive in places, and it feels like it's missing a nuanced analysis of the complex (and generally troubled) relationship between the different states in the region that have promoted economic independence and anti-imperialism - for example, the Iran-Iraq war, the dispute between the Syrian and Iraqi Ba'ath parties, the falling out of Iran and Libya, and so on. Nonetheless, an important book that is well worth reading for anyone with an interest in the terrible war on Syria and in the broader politics of the region.

  4. 4 out of 5

    pplofgod

    Very informative!

  5. 5 out of 5

    TG Lin

    本書以另一種觀點,來看待美國人所發起的「敘利亞戰爭」。 自己年少時代在觀看國際新聞時,便常聽到「遜尼–什葉」兩派的鬥爭,當時以為這是瞭解中東伊斯蘭世界的重要關鍵。後來隨著年紀逐漸增長,亂讀了些歷史材料之後,才發覺這種區分法根本不合理——然而在歐美列強長期以來的干涉之下,謊話講了一千次,居然變成了真話。 作者認為敘利亞的阿薩德政權所走的是「民族主義」路線,而且與 Hussain 時代的伊拉克一樣,都是排斥伊斯蘭的神權統治的世俗政權,致力於國內的人民政治經濟上的平等。然而,非常有趣的是,歐美在歷史上的「現代化」,正是用民族主義的世俗政治、來取代基督教神權的封建政治。但當歐美諸國擺脫了自己的宗教束縳之後,卻完全容不得中東國家也能走相同的道路,巴不得他們的社會永遠受伊斯蘭教極端派給封閉窒息(如今日最新美的沙烏地阿拉伯)。因此敘利亞和伊拉克復興黨,便被美國媒體的哈哈鏡給長期扭曲,塑造成為「宗教少數派壓迫宗教多數派」的殘暴獨裁者。 本書 200 ~ 201 頁中提到一個有趣的對比。今日紐約市民,有著上百種的國藉與文化信仰;若照美國媒體對中東的分類投射,紐約市老早就該成為一個「所有人對所有人戰爭」的恐怖地 本書以另一種觀點,來看待美國人所發起的「敘利亞戰爭」。 自己年少時代在觀看國際新聞時,便常聽到「遜尼–什葉」兩派的鬥爭,當時以為這是瞭解中東伊斯蘭世界的重要關鍵。後來隨著年紀逐漸增長,亂讀了些歷史材料之後,才發覺這種區分法根本不合理——然而在歐美列強長期以來的干涉之下,謊話講了一千次,居然變成了真話。 作者認為敘利亞的阿薩德政權所走的是「民族主義」路線,而且與 Hussain 時代的伊拉克一樣,都是排斥伊斯蘭的神權統治的世俗政權,致力於國內的人民政治經濟上的平等。然而,非常有趣的是,歐美在歷史上的「現代化」,正是用民族主義的世俗政治、來取代基督教神權的封建政治。但當歐美諸國擺脫了自己的宗教束縳之後,卻完全容不得中東國家也能走相同的道路,巴不得他們的社會永遠受伊斯蘭教極端派給封閉窒息(如今日最新美的沙烏地阿拉伯)。因此敘利亞和伊拉克復興黨,便被美國媒體的哈哈鏡給長期扭曲,塑造成為「宗教少數派壓迫宗教多數派」的殘暴獨裁者。 本書 200 ~ 201 頁中提到一個有趣的對比。今日紐約市民,有著上百種的國藉與文化信仰;若照美國媒體對中東的分類投射,紐約市老早就該成為一個「所有人對所有人戰爭」的恐怖地獄了,根本不該像今天的和平單一國家城市。當大家都強調共同點,人與人便能大體地和諧生活;當大家都強調相異點,畢竟人人各自不同,那麼任何小事情都可以放大成你死我活的不共戴天之仇。列強在這三百年來進出中東,走的正是 Devide et Impera,將任何可資利用的議題搞大(比如前述的遜尼什葉之爭),為的正是要讓歐美國家可以有效地掌控這塊地方。只要有任何人或團體想要「團結」大眾,那麼英美帝國主義者便開始用各種手段加以分化。放在敘利亞國家,正因為阿薩德政府打算拋棄傳統伊斯蘭的包袱來建立新的民族與民主國家,美國人便資助宗教狂熱份子(放在美國本土,這群人應該正是恐怖主義者…)來搞垮阿薩德——號稱民主的美國反對號稱民主的敘利亞,號稱世俗政權的美國支持神權階級統治的敘利亞反抗軍…… 誠然,作者對於阿薩德政府的經濟政策(國家社會主義)寫得太美好,我個人是不同意的;用私人資本振興國家經濟,永遠比國家統籌經濟來得有效許多的。但在更上一層的觀點上,我卻認定美國人對敘利亞國家經濟政策要怎麼走,That's none of your business。

  6. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    Gowans writes straightforwardly, his central thesis is clear and well supported. There's a lot of useful explanatory context for understanding the history of the region and the core ideological commitments of states that made them designated enemies of Anglo-American power. I would never encounter an exposition of Arab Nationalism or the socialist and anti-imperialist features of the Iranian constitution in mainstream publications, so it definitely filled in some blanks in my understanding. Cuts Gowans writes straightforwardly, his central thesis is clear and well supported. There's a lot of useful explanatory context for understanding the history of the region and the core ideological commitments of states that made them designated enemies of Anglo-American power. I would never encounter an exposition of Arab Nationalism or the socialist and anti-imperialist features of the Iranian constitution in mainstream publications, so it definitely filled in some blanks in my understanding. Cuts through alot of bs, such as a 'revolution' arising from the Arab spring and the famous 'moderate rebels'. Very informative

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pushon Bhattacharya

    This book about American intervention in Ba'athist Syria is worth reading in conjunction with more mainstream accounts of the Syrian Civil War as it contains a wealth of crucial information not typically found in the Western press. It cogently explains the ideology of the Syrian government and its motives for its highly controversial actions from 2011 onwards. Additionally, Gowans reveals many of the dirty truths about the Western powers' interference in the Levant over the past few decades. How This book about American intervention in Ba'athist Syria is worth reading in conjunction with more mainstream accounts of the Syrian Civil War as it contains a wealth of crucial information not typically found in the Western press. It cogently explains the ideology of the Syrian government and its motives for its highly controversial actions from 2011 onwards. Additionally, Gowans reveals many of the dirty truths about the Western powers' interference in the Levant over the past few decades. However, readers should approach this volume with a measure of scepticism due to the author's rather generous depiction of the Assads and other Arab nationalist despots.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Clear and insightful, I would recommend reading this if you are interested in the history and reasons behind the US interest in regime change in Syria.

  9. 5 out of 5

    June

  10. 4 out of 5

    TOHO

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ho Lian

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Popescu

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrei Nanu

  14. 4 out of 5

    Avery

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beau Hawk

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  17. 5 out of 5

    michel goulet

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen S.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sijie Shen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  21. 4 out of 5

    MarcAndre Murray

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andy S

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abel Bisrat

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip Lillies

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brett Johnston

  27. 4 out of 5

    Freda Chang

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  29. 4 out of 5

    John

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ivar Vangen

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