We are now past at least 70,000 dead in the Syrian conflict and mass atrocities are being committed on an almost daily basis.
That reminds me that I find it irritating that prognosticators are rarely held to account when they make a case about what they expect to happen and it does not happen. In July of last year dissidents in Syria pulled off an unexpected bombing in Damascus that led me to argue that the Assad regime was likely to face an onslaught of defection and fall apart:
if I had to place a wager, I would bet that more and more of them are going to conclude that Assad will lose. Let the mass shirking begin, and I suspect it will be only days or at most weeks before we see the key act of insubordination that will collapse Syria’s current regime (though see Erica Chenoweth’s view to the contrary here).
Uh, yeah, well, it has been pretty clear for some time that I was wrong and that Chenoweth was right. I was correct that there would be defections, but very wrong about the ability of the Assad regime to persist. I have been meaning to publicly point this out, and Kydd’s post got me to do so.
In September of last year I had the opportunity to present a very slowly developing project of mine at Yale’s Program on Order, Cooperation and Violence. During the visit Stathis Kalyvas and I got to yacking about the situation in Syria, and it turns out that he was as surprised as I at the joint level and duration of dissent given the state’s coercion, and the ability of the state to persist given the level of dissident mobilization. It was nice to know I am not the only one to find the course of events in Syria puzzling.