Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Summer 8-9-2017

Capstone Advisor

Fransisco Sanin

Honors Reader

Mehrzad Boroujerdi

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



syrian civil war, crisis, safe zones

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Other Political Science


The Syrian crisis in terms of its crimes against humanity has surpassed most politicians’ wildest expectations: it seems that with every passing news cycle the west is informed of new atrocities commited against innocent Syrian civilians, in addition to violence perpetrated by Syrian Islamists themselves against westerners in ill-advised cries for help. The extent of bloodshed can be both horrifying and mystifying to the average American. How is it possible that the international community allows these crimes to proliferate and self-perpetuate in this modern day-in-age? Hearts sink with every image of a child in dire straights as a result of this man-made catastrophe, with more organizations donating to the Syrian plight than ever before; however, westerners to a very valid extent are starting to believe that they are throwing pennies down an endless abyss of despair and irrepaiable damage to the Syrian people, political system and urban fabric. Even relatively uninformed Americans are becoming more engaged in political proceses as a result of the terror and destruction witnessed in left and right-leaning media alike. We now find ourselves in a place where we identify with each other through an intersectional humanity: a deep and unrelenting search for answers and relief in an impossible crisis. What possibly could have caused such deep distress between Syrians, their government, Islamist organizations and international actors alike that caused the situation to devolve to such bloodshed? To what extent are superpowers really contributing to the reparation of the Syrian quandary, and perhaps more importantly, to what extent are superpowers responsible for this state of affairs?

In a sense, it can be difficult to objectively point a finger at one’s self for another human’s pain, let alone an entire nationality. For this reason, this capstone will employ a strict methodology of historical, case study analysis to understand varying view-points in what epitomizes a mutli-faceted conflict. Through the collection of these various threads of research, from Arab and American authors alike, we begin to decipher overlapping historical narratives that share a story of unique, complex interconnections in policy applications of the United States towards the Arab world as a result of dogmatic developments that determine a web of superpower diplomacy applied with respect to one another, as well as various political pawns throughout the developing world. In the case of Syria as a case study, we see that the dogmatic developments between the United States and the French, Soviets and Saudis not only dictated their own relations, but truly molded political discourse with respect to Syria and their own domestic revalations.

Since the fall of the Ottoman era and the conception of Syria, the United States has formed Syrian international and domestic policies through its proxy relationships with France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia. These relations, categorized by three eras of American foreign policy, correspond closely with the development of the Syrian crisis in a narrative that depicts it as a situation over a century in the making. The various evidence, either in the form of testimonials, policy decisions and legislation alike, can begin to offer Americans some insight into the way the United States has failed the Syrian people, and more optimistically, point to opportunities for productive engagement. As painful as these stories may be, they are crucial to the development of superpower diplomacy towards Syria, as well as developing nations in the Arab world and developing nations alike to prevent a crisis like this from forming again as a result of short-sighted strategy.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
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