Catalogue


Why Syria goes to war : thirty years of confrontation /
Fred H. Lawson.
imprint
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1996.
description
xii, 222 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0801423732 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, 1996.
isbn
0801423732 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
732192
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-217) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-04-01:
Lawson's thesis is that political economy has been the primary determinant of Syrian foreign policy. He argues Syria initiated crises with Israel in 1967 and with Iraq in 1982 largely because of internal conflicts that prompted Damascus to enhance the role of the armed forces. He draws a contrast with the crises involving Jordan in 1970, Lebanon in 1976, and Turkey in 1994, where, he argues, Syria responded less assertively largely because it faced a less threatening domestic situation. Lawson offers a unique interpretation on some issues; for instance, most analysis of Syrian foreign policy in 1982 centers on its war with Israel in Lebanon that year, rather than the harsh words exchanged with Iraq at that time. Situating himself by reference to Marxian crises theories, Lawson dismisses theories influential in US government circles about the political motivations for Syrian behavior. He makes extensive of secondary material in English and French, especially reports in news magazines. By contrast, the book has 18 references to material in Arabic, including translations from the BBC and Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Economic data are drawn from official Syrian sources, with few references to the quite different estimates made by outside observers. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty. P. Clawson National Defense University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Lawson has written a book with extremely interesting connections. And if the most stimulating scholarly exercises are those which broaden our frames of reference and deepen our understanding of events, then Why Syria Goes to War is a gem."-Donna Robinson Divine, DOMES (Digest of Middle East Studies)
"The author focuses on domestic political factors that have influenced Syria's military and foreign policies; the book covers the period 1967 to 1994."-Shofar
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1997
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Summaries
Main Description
Rejecting conventional explanations for Syrian foreign policy, which emphasize the personalities and attitudes of leaders, cultural factors peculiar to Arab societies, or the machinations of the great powers, Fred H. Lawson describes key shifts in Damascus's response to regional adversaries in terms of changes in the intensity of political struggles at home. Periodic eruptions of domestic conflict have inspired Syria's ruling coalition to adopt a wide range of programs designed to buy off domestic rivals and perpetuate the predominance of individual coalition members. These programs have undermined the unity of the Ba'thi regime, increasing the chances that opponents will overturn the established order. Challenges to the Ba'thi regime become most threatening whenever crises of accumulation shake the domestic political economy, Lawson contends. Opposition forces gain strength when the state cannot sustain new investment or when competition increases between public and private enterprises. Political and economic trends inside Syria have determined why Damascus has since 1963 alternately escalated tensions with regional rivals and adopted more accommodating postures. Lawson traces this dynamic through five major episodes: the 1967 war with Israel; limited intervention in Jordan in 1970; the widening conflict in Lebanon in 1976; the defusing of conflict with Iraq in 1982; and the rapprochement with Turkey over Kurdish separatism in 1994. These patterns, Lawson suggests, may be characteristic of nations changing from one domestic economic system to a radically different one, as Syria has in the transition from state socialism to a privatized political economy.
Unpaid Annotation
Rejecting conventional explanations for Syrian foreign policy, which emphasize the personalities and attitudes of leaders, cultural factors peculiar to Arab societies, or the machinations of the great powers, Fred H. Lawson describes key shifts in Damascus's response to regional adversaries in terms of changes in the intensity of political struggles at home. Periodic eruptions of domestic conflict have inspired Syria's ruling coalition to adopt a wide range of programs designed to buy off domestic rivals and perpetuate the predominance of individual coalition members. These programs have undermined the unity of the Ba'thi regime, increasing the chances that opponents will overturn the established order. Lawson traces this dynamic through five major episodes: the 1967 war with Israel; limited intervention in Jordan in 1970; the widening conflict in Lebanon in 1976; the defusing of conflict with Iraq in 1982; and the rapprochement with Turkey over Kurdish separatism in 1994. These patterns, Lawson suggests, may be characteristic of nations changing from one domestic economic system to a radically different one, as Syria has in the transition from state socialism to a privatized political economy.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Linking Domestic Conflict to Foreign Policyp. 1
Provoking Confrontation with Israel, 1967p. 20
Limiting Intervention in Jordan, 1970p. 52
Expanding Intervention in Lebanon, 1976p. 76
Defusing Confrontation with Iraq, 1982p. 98
Abjuring Confrontation with Turkey, 1994p. 129
Domestic Conflict and Crisis Escalation in a Liberal-Democratic Syriap. 157
Conclusion: Implications for Further Researchp. 169
Notesp. 183
Indexp. 219
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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