History News Network | These Are the Hard Steps that Must Be Taken to Resolve the Syrian Mess

“Russia and Iran are deeply embedded in Syria; they cannot be dislodged and will always remain a player in shaping Syria’s future. The US has little choice but to accept this simple reality.” As much as I hate the idea, I think that Alon Ben-Meir is right. Given the situation, our only option if we want to stop the conflict in Syria and defeat ISIS is to work with Russia and Iran (both of which have substantial interests in the region). What’s the alternative?

Read an overview of Ben-Meir’s solution here: History News Network | These Are the Hard Steps that Must Be Taken to Resolve the Syrian Mess

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“‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East” – NYTimes.com

In a New York Times article David Motadel examines the role of religious protectorates past and present to help shed light on current events in the Middle East.  Several powers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries declared themselves protectorates of coreligionists in other states. For example, Russia declared itself the protector of Orthodox Christians within Ottoman territories and then used this as leverage to intervene in Ottoman affairs. As Motadel points out this type of “politics of religion…subverted states, fueled divisions within them — and often ended in violence.”

Currently in the Middle East it is Iran and Saudi Arabia who are engaging in the politics of religion. Motadel argues that “Iran’s attempts to become the global defender of Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to lead the Sunnis have become central in their battle for mastery of the Middle East, transforming the region’s international system from an order of states to an order of faiths.” And just as in the past this political maneuvering is destabilizing the region and fueling the violence. Obviously the causes of instability in the region are many, but I think Motadel has indicated an important contributor to the current unrest.  Read the entire article here:

‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East – NYTimes.com.

"An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images "

“An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images “

History News Network | “Unconditional Surrender” in Iran

The historian Mark Byrnes warns against the “unconditional surrender” mentality that has taken hold on the right: “Like the uncompromising Tea Party Congressional caucus does with domestic issues, Cotton seems to think that in diplomacy, any kind of compromise with an adversary, anything less than total victory, is abject failure. As I’ve written before, this attitude is dangerous enough when it shuts down the U.S. government or blocks meaningful action in Congress. When it is brought to bear on the world stage, it can be catastrophic.” Read his entire article:

History News Network | “Unconditional Surrender” in Iran.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton

History News Network | John Bolton’s Love of Bombs

The historian Lawrence Davidson exposes the folly of John Bolton’s recent opinion piece in The New York Times advocating the bombing of Iran. Here’s an excerpt from his take down: “John Bolton’s op-ed to the New York Times is just a mess – a dangerous flight of fancy based on skewed opinions rather than hard evidence and facts. In what must have been a very weak moment while writing this piece, he actually admits that there is a “lack of palpable evidence” for his case. He then moves right ahead as if the absence of evidence and facts just do not matter.” Read more here:

History News Network | John Bolton’s Love of Bombs.

John Bolton riding bomb

History News Network | Bombing Iran: What Would Happen If the Hawks Got Their Way?

Hopefully, even the hawks would not be so stupid as to pursue the policy of bombing Iran! Besides the fact that bombing doesn’t work, Juan Cole points out, “Leaving behind a relatively stable Afghanistan, forestalling a second march of Taliban into Kabul, and ousting ISIL from Sunni Iraq and trying to put the country back together are stated US military and foreign policy goals. They are profoundly imperiled by an Iran strike.” Read the full article at:

History News Network | Bombing Iran: What Would Happen If the Hawks Got Their Way?

US-war-syria bombing campaign