Friday, February 10, 2012

Syria: World War 1 Continues

From Austin Bay’s response to Fouad Ajami’s essay on Syria as the final stage of the Cold War.  I’ve always felt as Bay below, no, this is the last act of World War 1 and the resolution of all that was left undone with the Ottoman Empire.

The current Syrian revolt, the entire Arab Spring phenomenon, and for that matter, the Cold War share a sobering (and I suggest more explanatory) origin: World War I, the Great War. Four authoritarian empires fell in that conflagration: the Ottoman Turk, the German (Hohenzollern), the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) and the Russian Romanov. The Western Front slaughterhouse damaged France and Britain; though decolonization came decades later, the democratic imperialists never really recovered. What to do with all the imperial fragments? The Nazis, exploiting German grievances with World War I's outcome, tried to create a super German empire, but lost. The Soviets did resurrect the Russian empire, and extended it, until 1991. Gone forever? As Ajami noted, Putin exhibits commissar tendencies. He is not above creating an empire with an authoritarian sword.

Syria: World War I Continues


Kim Hampton said...

I've always thought that anything dealing with the Near East has its roots in The Great War and its aftermath. The real shame is that in the teaching of history--both here in the U.S. and in Western Europe--too often this is glossed over.

If we actually looked at this period of history, we might be able to find the answers to a lot of the political and territorial issues that are around today.

Alas, I don't think that will happen.

As always, thank you for this.

Bill Baar said...

Thank you Kim.. google around for the Harbord commission to Armenia and the discussion surrounding the US rejection of a mandate for Armenia. Interesting reading...

If your in Chicago, visit the Oriental Institute in Chicago down in Hyde Park.