When I wrote The Truth About Syria, published by Palgrave-MacMillan in 2007 with a paperback in 2008, I tried to explain why the country was so pivotal in the Middle East and for U.S. interests. It was a case study of the old radical nationalist dictatorships, how they stayed in power, and why they were failing. The book also made the point, ignored by the Obama administration from the day it took office in 2009 to well after the civil war began there, that such a regime would not be moderated simply because militancy so well served its interest.
I described in great detail how the dictatorship worked there and why it was running into increasing trouble. Pointing out how the rulers were pushing revolutionary Islamism, despite the fact that they were secular and not even Muslims, I suggested that this may well prove to be a suicidal strategy.
Four years later, Syria blew up. The book is still a good guide to the regime there and the causes of the “Arab Spring” and rise of Sunni Arab Islamism to power.
Incidentally, an unauthorized edition was published in Arabic in Beirut and smuggled into Syria. It has been gratifying to hear from Lebanese moderates and Syrian oppositionist liberals how much they liked the book and how accurate they found it to be.