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The Collapse of American Power in the Middle East

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Robert Fisk, Timothy Lynch and Sally Warhaft — Photo: Emily Harms

The Syrian War is the most deadly conflict we’ve seen in the 21st Century so far.

And with 12 million Syrians displaced since 2011 and world powers intervening on all sides – it’s far from a regional problem. The Syrian War is a crisis with ramifications that reach across the globe.

Now in its seventh year, the conflict that began during the Arab Spring has become appallingly complex. The involvement of world and regional powers has served to intensify and prolong the hostilities, turning Syria into a proxy battleground, and casting the possibility of peace further into the distance.

For this Fifth Estate episode, recorded live at the Melbourne Writers Festival, join the Independent’s revered correspondent Robert Fisk and American politics expert Timothy Lynch for a discussion of foreign political involvement in the region. How are the interventions of world and regional powers exacerbating the conflict? Who are the various rebel groups involved and what are their activities in other parts of the region? How are global dynamics shifting – and are we witnessing the collapse of American power in the Middle East?


Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Portrait of Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk

For 41 years, author and broadcaster Robert Fisk has been a Middle East correspondent based in Beirut, first for the Times of London and then, since 1989, for the Independent. He has reported from most of the region’s wars over the past four decades, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979), the Iranian revolution, the Iran–Iraq war (1980–88), the Lebanese civil war, the Algerian civil war, and today, the Syrian war.

He has written eyewitness accounts of the US invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 (and the subsequent occupation), numerous Israeli invasions of Lebanon, and the Arab revolutions in 2011. He is the author of two bestselling histories of the Middle East – Pity the Nation and The Great War for Civilisation – and is currently writing Night of Power, the story of the Arab world since 2005.

Portrait of Timothy Lynch

Timothy Lynch

Timothy J. Lynch is the Director of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor in American Politics at the University of Melbourne.

His books include Turf War: the Clinton Administration and Northern Ireland, After Bush: the Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy, a winner of the Richard Neustadt Book Prize and a best-selling international security text, and US Foreign Policy and Democracy Promotion.

He is editor-in-chief of the two-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History, and the convenor of the Ten Great Books Melbourne Masterclass. A Fulbright Scholar, Tim holds a PhD in Political Science from Boston College, Massachussetts.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.