[Marxism] Fwd: US imperialism and the war for the Middle East

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 25 08:48:59 MST 2015

Critics of the Syrian revolution on the left claim that the US has a 
fundamentally different attitude to the Syrian revolt than it had to the 
uprising against the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes – both US allies – in 
2011. There is a grain of truth in this. The fact that it was close 
partners of the US under the gun at the start of the Arab revolt 
coloured the tactical approach the US took. But on a fundamental level, 
the approach is the same. The US relationship with the Assad regime was 
not as close as the alliance with Mubarak, but the Syrian regime was a 
stable element in the region with which the US could deal – and did on 
numerous occasions. The Assad dynasty – both father and son – kept the 
peace on the Israeli border for over 40 years, and put down attempts by 
Palestinians and the left to take on Israel or install radical or 
genuinely pro-Palestinian governments on its border. The more important 
unique feature about Syria that dictated the US approach was the 
impossibility of disentangling the Syrian state from the hated dictator 
at its top. This meant that the US, if it was going to make a real 
choice, had either to back Assad as in Bahrain, but without a 
Saudi-style reserve army to come in and save the day, or to come out and 
help the rebellion to bring down the whole regime. The US did not 
consider either option to be palatable; the former because it would 
discredit the US and entrench Russian influence in the Middle East, the 
latter because it would require either a major US military operation, or 
the handing over of substantial numbers of arms to rebels who it knew 
were in no way pro-US or pro-Israeli. Unwilling to make a pro-active 
choice, the US vacillated, offering verbal support to the rebels, but 
nothing in the way of real weaponry or logistical support. In doing so 
it sent a message to the regime that while the US might make statements 
against it, there was little or no chance it would ever act decisively 
to oppose the status quo. Contrast this vacillating US approach with 
that of Russia, which has been unwavering in its backing of the Assad 


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