Syria & the Arab Uprisings: An Interview with Gilbert Achcar

Gilbert Achcar has been called “one of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world” (Le Monde) and “the preeminent Marxist scholar of the region” (CounterPunch). He is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, University of London. His many books include:

Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror

The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder

Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy (dialogues with Noam Chomsky)

The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives

Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism

The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Professor Achcar at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies for a stimulating series of lectures, forums and panel discussions about his recent work. During his visit, I recorded the following interview with him for our CMES Conversations series.

We took his book The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising as a starting point from which to examine the roots of the Syrian uprising, the nature of the Assad regime, the different shapes of the uprisings across the region, and the fate of Syria. Here it is:

Stephen Walt: Changes since The Israel Lobby book

Presentation at the National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship” on March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club.

Stephen M. Walt is professor of International Affairs at Harvard University; previously taught at Princeton University, University of Chicago.

Geoffrey Wawro – Quicksand

The above is a presentation at the National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship” on March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club.

Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is Professor of History and Director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas in the Dallas Metroplex. Wawro’s book Quicksand is a history of American involvement in the Middle East. Quicksand is in the ListMuse Best 100 History Books of All Time list.

The Hat of Invisibility

salehBostjan Videmsek interviews Yassin al-Haj Saleh, former political prisoner and one of Syria’s foremost intellectuals, on ‘civil war’, sectarianism, and the geo-political conspiracy theories which render the people of the Middle East invisible.

Three years and three months into the conflict, Syria and its people have more or less been forgotten by international community, the media, even NGOs. How does this effect life on the ground and the conflict itself?
I do not approve of words like ‘conflict’ and ‘crisis’ in describing our struggle. The connotations of these terms cover up the responsibilities of the terrible situation in Syria, that of a regime that had been ruling the country for 41 years when the revolution started 38 months ago, and that killed perhaps 40,000 Syrians in a previous generation (between 1979 and 1982). There are many ways to forget the Syrian struggle; one of them is to refer to a vague and distant conflict. I think the sort of symptomatic forgetfulness you refer to in the question is only a continuation by different means of the coverage which speaks about ‘conflict’ and ‘crisis’.
Having said that that, life on the ground is affected by barrel bombs thrown from helicopters over civilian neighborhoods in Aleppo, by chlorine gas bombs thrown over people in Kafr Zeta near Hama, and by fighter jets bombing towns of the eastern Ghouta near Damascus. This affects life more than being forgotten by the international community, the media, and NGOs. People are not killed because they are forgotten. They were always forgotten in the past, then they revolted against their masters, and decided to remind all the world of their existence. They are being killed because they revolted, and they are being punished for their insistence on visibility by being forgotten again.

Continue reading “The Hat of Invisibility”

Ha-Joon Chang on Economics

In the following video Ha-Joon Chang gives a lecture on his latest book, which is an introduction to economics, titled Economics: The User’s Guide. As an introductory text it covers all the main areas of the field. Rather usefully at the end of each chapter it has a further reading section. This gives an idea of the basic books the Cambridge professor would recommend to cover the whole discipline of economics. The books from this section have been compiled into a list titled Ha-Joon Chang’s Introduction to Economics Book List.