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*Note: We attempted to get this article, plus a shortened version of the
same article, published on the DSA blog site as a reply to an article by
R.L. Stephens, who is also the editor of that site. So far, the editor has
not published it, so we are doing so here.*

In the summer of 2017, the US Department of Defense’s Strategic Studies
institute published a report called “At Our Own Peril”
<https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pdffiles/PUB1358.pdf> in which they
outlined the global threats facing US capitalism. A central feature of
those threats as these strategists for US imperialism saw it, involved both
the rise of the Islamic State and the threat of the Arab Spring –
tendencies which they say emanate from the Arab world but may “metastasize”.

In other words, these strategists for US capitalism see the crisis in Syria
as being at the center of the political crisis of world capitalism. They
may be right. That is why it is crucially important that socialists
understand the nature of this crisis. Unfortunately, the article
<http://www.dsausa.org/npc_debate>written by R.L. Stephens of the DSA NPC
gets it wrong on almost every count.....

Like much of the left, R.L. Stephens largely pictures the situation as an
inter-imperialist rivalry. He also sees the position of US imperialism as
being similar to that in Iraq, as being a position of “regime change”. This
is entirely mistaken.

*“Regime Change” or Assadism without Assad?*The example of Egypt is
instructive: When the Arab Spring first arose, the position of the US
regime at first was to support Mubarak. Quite quickly, Obama saw Mubarak as
being an obstacle to capitalist stability and called for him to step down.
In Syria, things were a little more complex but essentially the same. That
was why Obama called for Assad to step down, but what he never ever did was
in any way call for “regime change”. In other words, similar to in Egypt,
what the US regime wanted was “Assadism” without Assad. They never had any
intention of carrying out the sort of regime change purge that they carried
out in Iraq."

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