The United States intervened militarily in Iraq in 2003, 15 years ago this month, and the result was war and chaos. But the United States did not intervene in Syria in 2011 when the regime there was challenged, and the result was still war and chaos. Though the media has interpreted the past decade and a half of armed conflict in the Levant exclusively through the failure of U.S. policy, the fact that the policy in Syria was 180-degrees different from the one in Iraq and yet the result was the same indicates that there has to be a deeper, more fundamental force at work in both countries that journalists and historians must acknowledge.
That deeper force is the legacy of Baathism. A toxic mix of secular Arab nationalism and Eastern Bloc-style socialism that dominated Syria and Iraq for decades since the 1960s, it made the regimes of the al-Assad family in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq completely unique in the Arab world. Baathism, more than George W. Bush or Barack Obama, is the father of the violent Hobbesian nightmare that has devastated the lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iranian plateau in the early 21st century.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
Legacies of Repression in Egypt and Tunisia: Authoritarianism, Political Mobilization, and Founding Elections
About the Book: When an authoritarian regime collapses, what determines whether an opposition group will form a political party, be successful in mobilizing voters, and surviv...
By Alanna C. Torres-Van Antwerp
CommentaryA New Nuclear Deal With Iran Shouldn’t Be Accompanied By Terrorist Legitimization
Removing the label of terrorism should take effort on behalf of the offending party, something the Islamic Republic is unwilling to provide....
By John O'Malley
ReportsAligning U.S.-Israeli Cooperation on Technology Issues and China
The United States and Israel have a long history of working together as close allies. Theirs is a relationship based on common values and security interests. In recent years, ...
By Jonathan Schanzer, Shira Efron, Martijn Rasser & Alice Hickson
CommentaryProtecting The Hazara People Of Afghanistan Is A Moral Obligation The World Is Failing To Meet
Once the largest of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, Hazaras now make uponly 9 percent of Afghanistan’s population of 36 million, and Genocide Watch has declared this a “genocide ...
By Alice Hickson