Syria has always been, and remains, a newsworthy country to cover for two reasons. It neighbors the countries of Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel, all democratic and as perfect as they come considering who their neighbors are, and because of the hard-to-swallow foreign policy of Assad, whose direction has been quite destructive. If you have been to the beach with your elementary school class, Assad is the classmate who cannot but destroy your sand castle, followed by his thugs to piss on the crumbled design. Assad is a country pooper par excellence.
Even during his father”™s steady policy of maintaining a balance between his illegal rule, regional interests, and international affection, Syria became newsworthy ever so often for the same reasons. In 1983, when Hafez al-Assad, along with Hezbollah, murdered 241 US Marines keeping peace in Lebanon, the response by the US was timid. In fact, an expert who has worked with the Reagan administration at the time confirmed that the military opposed it. They gave President Reagan a convoluted and complicated plan intended for him not to act upon it. We see the same similarities today with the Israeli military establishment defending and even sometimes protecting Assad for fear of the “unknown”.
The “unknown”, or the more common words “what is the alternative?” we hear from westerners responding to the concept of “regime change”, are but an escape hatch used by people who really don”™t know or those who don”™t take the time to know. But if the word “alternative” demonstrates a certain lack of knowledge about Syria in general, forgiven is, in most circumstances, its overuse because Syria, after all, is a closed society that has been sealed shut by Assad to protect his tight grip; however, the word “unknown” is far more dangerous because it conveys lack of interest and maybe laziness. Working with Assad, even at the highest of prices, is better than the “unknown” the argument goes. Of course, dismissed in this calculation are the two most known commodities of terror: Hamas and Hezbollah. What makes this issue unreal is the adaptation we seem to accept to the existence of terror in our midst, which somehow shelves the danger Assad represents in the region because appeasers tend to find the most comfortable angle of view, whether based on superlative arguments or not, to justify a present position that would have been untenable in hindsight.
We have to move to a higher ground, to a more noble approach to resolving the incandescent problems of our era. Not by ignoring them or adapting to their horrors, but by tackling the problems with the courage to change the status quo. We cannot survive, as people, if we allow ourselves the apathy that led to the Assad regime in the first place. The French have an exceptional proverb that states “Celui qui n”™avance pas, recule” (If you do not move forward, you go backward). It is time to give Syrians a chance to tackle their own problems to start moving forward instead of staying in reverse continuously.