Desperate Times Call for Despot Measures

September 3, 2013

Once again, The Onion wins.  We’ll wait, go ahead and read it now (trust us, it is good) The Case For And Against Intervening in Syria.

The Onion has been covering Syria really well, and probably deserve a Pulitzer Prize.

Nowhere else has the case been made that there is a very different end state for President Obama and President Bashar al-Assad.  These two Commander-in-Chiefs have very a different survival calculus.

After his presidency, President Obama will probably be able to go on the six or seven figure speaker circuit, and his kids will not worry about their ability to pay for college.  Bashar al-Assad lives or dies.  His kids (cute photo here!) – they live, or they die.  His wife, “Rose of the Desert,” (thanks Vogue!) – she lives, or she dies.  Bashar’s brother, cousins, the and pretty much the whole of Latakia, they all die horribly painful deaths.

Don’t discount the efforts someone will make to stay alive and protect their family.  (Insert topical Breaking Bad reference here!)  A brilliant colleague once declared, in a different context, that “Desperate Times Call for Despot Measures,” which might sum up Syria’s Commander in Chief’s current rationalization.

The Assad regime isn’t going away without a fight, and a couple of bombs dropped from a couple of planes flying out of Cyprus or sent from a handful of cruise missile delivering destroyers parked in the Med will not alter Bashar’s calculus…  and that really must be considered before “sending a message” which may or may not be received by the Eye Doctor in Damascus.

John Thorne is a senior consultant at Diligent Innovations, a defense and national security strategy consulting firm in Washington, DC.  He once swam from Syria to Turkey, and back again, without wearing his prescription lenses.  He also once drove a taxi in Aleppo, Syria in order to improve his Arabic, and will never forget the words for left, right, and speedbump.


Photo Credit: Beshroffline, Flickr