Monday, April 25, 2011

Syria: Is It So Hard to Understand that Bashar al-Assad Is Dictator Not A Reformer in Training?

This article is published in PajamasMedia. The full text is provided here for your convenience.

By Barry Rubin

It is often hard to believe the density of some New York Times writers. One can disagree with someone and still respect them, or you can find their opinions too illogical or detached from reality to take seriously.

Consider this passage from the New York Times article of Robert Worth on April 25:

"Mr. Assad could still succeed in quelling the unrest, diplomats and analysts say. But to do so he would have to realize the hopes once placed in him when he inherited power from his father 11 years ago and confront his own family, which controls Syria’s thuggish security apparatus and appears to be pushing hard for a continued crackdown."

Note the touching belief on a level with illiterate nineteenth-century Russian peasants who believed that "if only the czar knew" about the malfeasance in the kingdom all would be made right.

The truth is that anyone who placed any hope in Bashar when he took power--or at least within the first few months--was quite deluded. His father got rid of the old guard to ensure Bashar's firm rule, something Egyptian President Husni Mubarak should have learned from. There is no old guard.

Who controls the "thuggish security apparatus" but Bashar himself? And who is the big power in his family? His sister and brother-in-law with whom Bashar closely coordinates his reign.

This kind of mediocrity would look bad on a college newspaper, much less what used to be called the "newspaper of record." But then this is the same newspaper--and same establishment view--that has yet to acknowledge that a policy of trying to win Assad away from Iran through flattery and concessions was totally ridiculous and has failed totally.

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