Academic journal article Military Review

Why Syria Goes to War: Thirty Years of Confrontation

Academic journal article Military Review

Why Syria Goes to War: Thirty Years of Confrontation

Article excerpt

WHY SYRIA GOES TO WAR:

Thirty Years of Confrontation by Fred H. Lawson. 222 pages. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 1996. $29.95.

In Why Syria Goes to War, author Fred H. Lawson argues that there is an "intimate connection" between Syria's foreign policy and its domestic political and economic problems. Lawson even suggests that domestic concerns are more important than external aspects in determining the state's reaction to a crisis. In particular, Lawson emphasizes how "accumulation crises"-when investments in the economy decline for various reasons-increased domestic opposition to the regime and spurred Damascus into "expansionist foreign policies," which helped unify members of the dominant elite behind the government.

The author, a Fulbright lecturer at the College of Economics at the University of Aleppo, Syria, writes from the perspective of a social scientist. He exploits data from Syria's Central Bureau of Statistics, although he admits that the information is far from complete, and given the secretiveness of President Hafiz al-Asad's regime, Lawson is unable to detail Syria's actual decision-making process. His argument is based on a comparison of domestic political and economic conditions and simultaneous Syrian foreign policy initiatives. Although Lawson provides a comprehensive analysis of domestic conditions, he does not present specific evidence that government responses to external crises were primarily determined by a need to address internal threats. …

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