Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science, and the author of new book, The Conceit of Humanitiarian Intervention, recently spoke with Carnegie Corporation’s Eugene Scherbakov about recent Russian actions in Syria, the state of U.S.-Russia relations and the way forward in Ukraine.
What are Russia’s strategic intentions in Syria?
Putin intervened because he concluded—as did Iraq and Iran, which together with Hezbollah allies were already helping Syria’s army—that Assad’s state was on the verge of collapse. By the fall of 2015, the Islamist resistance—which is the strongest component of the opposition, not moderates and secularists—had made major inroads into Aleppo and Idlib province and had also begun to move into the coastal zone, the homeland of the ruling Alawite minority. Had Assad fallen, Syria, as Putin saw it, would have eventually been ruled by Islamists bent on creating a caliphate. This he was not prepared to let happen. The Syrian war has already attracted thousands of fighters from Russia’s war-torn North Caucasus, so the possibility of a caliphate in Syria had internal ramifications as well for Russia.
Here one sees one of the truly precious elements of the moral and political commitments by which Marshall steered his life. He thought that we were all, in a radical sense, equal. We were equal not just in terms or our political or human rights, but in our ideas and in our minds. Marshall was breathtakingly, dizzyingly smart. He possessed one of the most agile, comprehending minds I’ve ever known. But he carefully regarded every last idea that passed before him, threw up no boundaries to incorporating hip hop, graffiti art, poetry slams, and even the watery coffee of the student cafeteria, into his conceptions about human accomplishment and creativity.
By Vince Boudreau, director of the Colin L. Powell Center
Marshall Berman was a distinguished professor at CCNY, a designation that, like associate and full professor, requires a formal review and recommendation process, including the review of his scholarly work, and testimonies to their significance. A committee is selected to solicit reviews from appropriate scholars, but as a candidate, Marshall also was able to nominate reviewers, and add letters to his application file.
His application was immensely strong, and included ringing and warm endorsements from the very best and most established political theorists (a sub-field of the political science discipline) in the world.
But it also contained something peculiar, inserted into the file at Marshall’s insistence—an unsolicited “review” of Marshall’s luminous, expansive work, All that is Solid Melts into Air. The review was hand written, and crumpled—the pen having apparently been set to paper years before—and the note itself abused by years of residence in Marshall’s tumultuous apartment, or atop the crazed jumble of books and papers that always concealed his office desk.