The perils and promise of wartime analysis: Lessons from Syria

Ghaleb Attrache
Berkley Journal of Sociology

For many, the “Syrian tragedy” is a prime example of popular aspirations gone disastrously awry, the “revolution-turned-civil-war”. Was any of this was really worth it. Only Syrians can answer this. My contention, however, is that there remains much to learn from the Syrian uprising, five years on. The argument I develop below highlights how we might draw lessons from an analysis of the debates on Syria, not only for knowledge’s sake, but for clarifying the dynamics of revolutionary struggle for those committed to Syria as well as social movements elsewhere.

The current discourse, I will show, obfuscates more than it reveals. I demonstrate this in two interrelated ways: by problematizing analyses of the trajectory of the conflict and analyses of the main actors involved. In both instances, the terms and categories of the debate shroud the complexity of the relevant actors, institutions, and dynamics.

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