Destroying a nation The civil war in Syria

Nikolaos van Dam

Book - 2017

"Following the Arab Spring, Syria descended into civil and sectarian conflict. It has since become a fractured warzone which operates as a breeding ground for new terrorist movements including ISIS as well as the root cause of the greatest refugee crisis in modern history. In this important book, former Special Envoy of the Netherlands to Syria, Nikolaos van Dam, explains the recent history of Syria, covering the growing disenchantment with the Asad regime, the chaos of civil war and the fractures which led to an immense amount of destruction in the refined social fabric of what used to be the Syrian nation. Through an in-depth examination, van Dam traces political developments within the Asad regime and the various opposition groups f...rom the Arab Spring to the present day, and provides a deeper insight into the conflict and the possibilities and obstacles for reaching a political solution"--Publisher's website

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London ; New York : I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd 2017.
Main Author
Nikolaos van Dam (author)
Physical Description
xiii, 242 pages : map ; 20 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 184-222) and index.
  • Preface
  • Map of Syria
  • Introduction
  • 1. A synopsis of Ba'thist history before the Syrian Revolution (2011)
  • 2. Could the war in Syria have been avoided?
  • 3. Confrontation between the military of the regime and the opposition
  • 4. The ambivalent Western approach to the Syria conflict
  • 5. Intra-Syrian talks but no negotiations
  • Conclusions
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Movements and Factions
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

Nikolaos van Dam, Dutch ambassador to five countries over a 30-year span, is one of the most respected experts in the world on Syria. Destroying a Nation is a companion to his masterpiece Struggle for Power in Syria, first issued in 1979 and completely redone in 1996 (CH, Nov'96, 34-1781). On this contentious issue, Van Dam fully presents the theses of those with whom he disagrees. The introduction gives the general reader an insightful overview of Syrian history, society, and geography. The opening chapter details how deeply sectarian Syria was after 1963, contrary to the ruling Baath party's principles. The next chapter argues that the war was inevitable because the Alawite-dominated regime knew real reform would spell its end. Then comes a chapter that documents the ambivalent Western approach to the conflict, marked by wishful thinking. The following chapter describes the futility of the internationally sponsored talks, in which he was a key player; all Syrian players took the attitude that the winner takes all. The concluding chapter lists the daunting obstacles to a political rather than military solution, but van Dam's final words are, "miracles only happen if one keeps believing in them." Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels. --Patrick Lyell Clawson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.