A sweeping and dramatic history of the last half century of conflict in the Middle East from an award-winning journalist who has covered the region for over thirty years, The Great War for Civilisation unflinchingly chronicles the tragedy of the region from the Algerian Civil War to the Iranian Revolution; from the American hostage crisis in Beirut to the Iran-Iraq War; from the 1991 Gulf War to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. A book of searing drama as well as lucid, incisive analysis, The Great War for Civilisation is a work of major importance for today’s world. The history of the Middle East is an epic story of tragedy, betrayal and world-shaking events. It is a story that Robert Fisk has been reporting for over thirty years. His masterful narrative spans the most volatile regions of the Middle East, chronicling with both rage and compassion the death by deceit of tens of thousands of Muslims, Christians and Jews. In a recent piece on the fall of Palmyra, Fisk asks: The biggest military defeat that Isis has suffered in more than two years — the recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia — and we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn’t they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn’t we? As the black masters of execution fled Palmyra this weekend, Messrs Obama and Cameron were as silent as the grave to which Isis has dispatched so many of their victims.
Writing for the news outlet Dawn Robert Fisk writes of the current situation:
As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say: “Makes you sit up a bit, doesn’t it?” Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin’s Russians, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren’t utter a single word to say “well done”.
When Palmyra fell last year, we predicted the fall of Bashar al-Assad, but we ignored the Syrian army’s big question: why, if the Americans hated Isis so much, didn’t they bomb the suicide convoys that broke through the Syrian army’s front lines? Why didn’t they attack Isis?
“If the Americans wanted to destroy Isis, why didn’t they bomb them when they saw them?” a Syrian army general asked me, after his soldiers’ defeat. His son had been killed defending Homs. His men had been captured and head-chopped in the Roman ruins. The Syrian official in charge of the Roman ruins (of which we cared so much, remember?) was himself beheaded. Isis even put his spectacles back on top of his decapitated head, for fun.
Putin noticed this and talked about it, accurately predicting the retaking of Palmyra. His aircraft attacked Isis — as US planes did not — in advance of the Syrian army’s conquest. I could not help but smile when I read that the US command claimed two air strikes against Isis around Palmyra in the days leading up to its recapture by the regime. That really did tell you all you needed to know about the American “war on terror”. They wanted to destroy Isis, but not that much.