If, like myself, you are a die hard optimist, you believe in the Revolution, you think unknown and undefined freedom can only be better than a genocidal dictator, then you might be at awe with all the comments, beliefs, and analysis that state Syria, after Assad, is going to be worse. Here is a 10 step guide to help you convince yourself that Syria is doomed.
- 1 – Revolution is a bad thing
At the very heart of the idea that “Syria is doomed”, there is a belief. It is a deep belief that Revolution is a bad thing for humanity. You will have to rewrite History accordingly, making all revolutions look bad. You do not have to go in depth into praising the old regimes for their achievement. That may come counter productive as you will appear as a supporter of the old regime. For instance, in Libya you could see hostility against the revolution divided in two separate trends:
- One insisted that Kadhafi was very kind to his people (Libyans had education, Oil was redistributed, he resisted bravely to imperialism, the great river project was something great etc.) This trend did not have that much success.
- The second trend insists that now Libya is a mess. Islamists are taking over, no central government, militias and bandits are ruling the country etc. This second trend is much more efficient as it will engage many more people.
So the idea is not to praise the old regime but to blame the revolution that put an end to it.
There is a long and furnished literature on how to blame the past revolutions, especially in French language. Because this country has a particular revolutionary past, anti-revolution forces had to develop a tradition of blaming the revolutions. This material will help you to pick another revolution in history and remind yourself how it always ends badly (always is the key word here). Here are some instance developed by the French tradition:
- 1789 French revolution ended up in decapitations, a period called “the terror” and the emergence of a new emperor that devastated Europe with his wars.
- May 68 revolution ended up in kids being abused and the end of authority of the masters in the schools. We can now admire the consequences such as the growing numbers of homosexual kids, growth of hip-hop music, joblessness, kids who can’t read, violent video-games and anti-racist movements that let Arabs invade our suburbs.
- 1917 Russian revolution ended up in communism that made 85 million dead.
History does not judge. But thanks to gods, you can! In History, every event has a million or more different causes and creates a million or more different consequences. Hard to judge that. The trick is to make it simplistic enough so you can judge it. Try like that: every event is coming from one same cause and/or will lead to one same consequence. A bit lost? Here is how to apply the trick to the current Revolution in the Arab World.
The Arab Revolution is a historical event consequence of colonialism, of how independences were achieved in a cold war context, taking place in the beginning of the XXIst century in the midst of an economic crisis of globalised capitalism and communication revolution. It will have, (already has) huge and unthinkable consequences as it will see the emergence of new political forces in countries as different as Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrein etc. Hard to judge that so here is how you can read it to make it judgable:
- Revolutions are a western plot from the US and Israel to create war in the middle east and this will end badly because war is always bad and US and Israel are evil.
- Revolution were started by young westernised people who liked Facebook but are now confiscated by islamists who will impose Sharia law because they are better organised and Sharia is what Muslim people want.
- “Arab spring” turned violent and now it is a war (here you can also found instances of how things usually turn into war in the middle east). War is bad.
- Muslims throughout history have always been divided between Shiites and Sunnis; What is happening is part of this war between Shiites and Sunnis and it will become worse.
Arabs are different than the rest of us. If you are an Arab and you read this post, that means you speak English so you are “westernised” enough to be different from the other Arabs. Arabs do not feel like us, they do not understand politics like us, they do not want what a normal human being wants.
Machiavelli had us explained some of the basics of politics: power is divided between those who want to oppress and those who do not want to be oppressed. You can do anything to a man, he wont mind unless you go after his house and/or family. These are basics for all humans but not for Arabs. Arabs like to be oppressed. You can seize their home and torture their families, they will love you as long as you blame “the West” and Zionists. Arabs are Muslims so what they want is Islam.
As a consequence, if you remove the secular dictator from an Arab country, there will be an islamic theocracy, like in Iran. Iranians are not Arabs but they are Muslims too so that makes them the same. Kind of… Also 1979 may be a bit outdated (10 years before the end of the cold war, 20 years before 9/11, 30 years before the Revolution) but it still works because Arabs do not understand History.
- 4 – Become a geopolitical expert
It is not that complicated to become an expert in geopolitics. Here is what you need to do:
- Do not take into account the existence of individuals, human beings or free will. Consider that all humans are part of a bigger entity and only act to strengthen this entity: all Shiites think alike and want what is good for a greater Shia force. All Sunnis think alike and want what is good for greater Sunni force. All people in “the west” will act accordingly to “the west” interest. Take a map, draw big stains on it in different colours and forget that you just denied free will and free opinions to the millions of people living under the stains you drew.
- Take the name of a country or a big entity and add an action verb next to it (Russia IS; Syria WANTS, Iran HAS, United States of America NEEDS TO, China DOES, Saudi Arabia THINKS…)
- Try to think these countries are individuals, always and only driven by primary instincts of survival, expansion, gathering of resources or self interest: Russia IS trying to recreate the old USSR empire; Iran HAS oil; USA NEEDS TO get oil; Saudi Arabia THINKS Shiites are a threat; China DOES have a huge economic growth; Syria WANTS TO survive between surrounding forces, Shiites WORK for the expansion of Iran influence, Sunnis WANT Saudi Arabia TO HELP them against Shiites etc.
- Now picture the middle east as a big chess game (or Risk) and play with the pieces: countries, minorities and big entities.
- You can also draw yourself a map. Maps play a big role in geopolitics, so do not hesitate. Use nice colours and little icons. If you have computer or coding skills use them! That will give you the right to call your map an “infographics” and this title is much appreciated.
If you have to debate with another geopolitical expert, do not panic. You will use the “yes of course but there is also the issue of” trick. See, geopolitics can only have one reading at a time that supersedes others. For instance, if it is about oil, it is not about Shia influence. If it is about Russia against the US, it supersedes Iran against Israel. This means that, in a geopolitical debate, you can always find a new issue that supersedes the one your opponent had chosen to explain everything. Remember to always agree with your opponent first as geopolitics is not a science and, therefore, can never be wrong. Here is how to do it:
1st geopolitician: US needs the oil in the middle east, this is the reason why they are allied with Saudi Arabia and invaded Iraq.
2nd geopolitician: of course, oil is the basic of US economy but one has not to forget the growing influence of Iran through Shiites. This influence is of great danger to Israel and Israel is prime US Ally in the middle east.
1st geopolitician: this is very true and one has also to keep in mind the nuclear issue. Iran wants to become nuclear and this is a great danger to Israel as well.
2nd geopolitician: Precisely! Nuclear Iran could pass nuclear bombs through the Shia crescent (Iran + Iraq + Syria + Hezbollah) and this would threaten directly the west interests.
1st geopolitician: Indeed! This is why the west will certainly try to ally with the new Sunni islamist government that took power after the Arab spring with the help of the west. In Syria, the west is helping Sunni rebellion, in Libya NATO overthrow Kadhafi and helped put Sharia, in Egypt they pushed Moubarak out: this means the west seeks to secure its interests by helping Sunni islamist to take over and ally themselves to these movements through Saudi Arabia which is allied to the west as well.
2nd geopolitician: surely but one has to distinguish between Sunni Salafi djihadis and Sunni Wahabbis, their interest may antagonise at some point in the future.
1st geopolitician: but the same distinction applies with Shiites. The Alawis that currently rule Syria are an offshoot sect of Shia that was long discriminated by sunnis. This is why they established a secular Baath party to stabilise Syria.
2nd Geopolitician: yes but one must not forget that Christians also helped to create the Baath party. Also in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was from the same village than Saladin, who was Kurdish…
If you are willing to write a geopolitical analysis, use the same trick as if you were debating with yourself. Add enough layers (Kurds, oil, Iran, nuclear, Israel, “the West”, islamists, al Quaeda etc.) so your analysis looks very complicated but examine each layer as if it was the one idea that could explain everything.
Becoming a geopolitics expert comes with huge advantages. You will experience this nice feeling of knowing how the world turns. You will also be able to initiate others and to gather disciples as you reveal to them the secrets that rule the world. People will look at you asking for your answers to their questions and this will give you a feeling of power and domination. Geopolitics is about great powers and entities struggling against each other so war is always the conclusion. You will thus predict that war is going to happen. If it is already happening you will predict that war is going to be worse. This gives you an enviable social position similar to those predicting apocalypse in the ancient times. Also you will always be right as it will be easy to find a war in the middle east that you can read according to your analysis.
Of course, once you are a geopolitical expert, there is no chance for you to believe that Arab Revolution can bring anything else than war, destruction and further struggle between great powers.
- 5 – Arabs are all the same and have always been
This very fact allows you to use an Arab country to predict the sad developments of another Arab country. Syria, for instance, is going to be like Iraq or Lebanon where bloody civil wars ravaged the country for years. Now this may be hard as, of course, Iraq is not Syria and 2003 is not 2012 or 1975 Lebanon.
In Iraq, for instance, George Bush and neoconservatives invaded the country, divided it into three sectarian zones, dismantled the state and occupied the country for nearly 10 years. In Lebanon, Syria and Israel invaded the country and played proxy war through militias for 10 years. This, of course, has nothing comparable with Syria’s 2013 context. So the trick is to erase any context or history from the comparison by only mentioning the name of the country: “it is going to be like Iraq; it is going to be like Libya, it is going to be like Lebanon”. The key is to rely on what we saw on TV about these countries. Years of TV images of war and destruction happening every day have shaped the mind so when you say “Iraq” or “Lebanon” it triggers these images of Arabs killing themselves out of context.
The finest of all is reached when you used these countries as adjectives: Lebanisation, iraquisation, afghanisation (they are muslims too)… This will help you to see a never ending civil war looming in Syria.
- 6 – Do not forget the sectarian thing
In the Middle-East, especially in Syria, there is plenty of different sects and minorities. Druze, Alawis, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Armenians, Orthodox, Kurds.
The Assads, father and sons, were great at playing these against one another. They were Alawis but that sect became part of Shia after Hafez al Assad have asked Imam Musa Sadr a special fatwa on the subject. It now gives them in the media the title “offshoot of Shia sect”. They are ruling with the secular baath party but allied with Iran Theocracy and Hizbullah, the party of god. They were the centre of the Shia axis but helped and hosted the Hamas Sunni movement and sent Sunni djihadis in Iraq against the US. They were fighting Muslim Brotherhood and preventing Sunnis to establish theocracy in Syria but allied with Turkey and its moderate Sunni islamist AKP party. They were fighting Israel with words but refrained from any retaliation when Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, killed unarmed Palestinians at the border in 2011 or destroyed a military facility in 2013.
Now if Assad is removed, it is only logical that things will degenerate and sectarian civil war will happen. Sunnis think like Sunnis and they will want to establish a Sunni country in Syria. Alawis think like Alawis, a long time oppressed minority that will try to keep Assad in power because he is an Alawi too. Druze and Christians will be caught in the middle and will have to fight back. Kurds will try to establish a Kurdistan, a thing Turkey will not let happen. Iran and Hezbollah will have to back Assad cause he is an Alawi and Alawis are Shiites. Saudi Arabia will back the Sunnis because they are Sunnis too…
Seeing Syria through sectarian eyes will help you see the logical sectarian civil war.
- 7 – It is all about islamists
Now Muslims like Islam. Islamists want to bring more Islam. So Muslims are going to vote for islamists. Since the last 10 years and thanks to George W Bush “war on terror”, islamists have been the biggest threat against “the west” since… well since communism! A huge industry of private and public intelligence is dedicated to the islamist threat. Hundreds of thousands of intelligence agencies, think tanks, scholars, analysts, political advisers, specialised revues have, during the last 12 years, dedicated all their time and money to study, analyse, predict, assess or understand the islamist threat. Networks have been established, methodology has been developed, brains have been trained, money has been allowed, decisions (hard decisions like backing “secular dictators”) have been made and ears of the decision makers have been used to listen a certain music. Now what do you think this industry is going to produce when it focuses on Syria?
If you are fool enough to not speak about “the rise of the djihadi threat in Syria” you will be laughed at, no one will listen to you, you’ll get no funding, you will deny yourself access to 90% of any material produced about the middle-east during the last 10 years, and you will be crushed by any expert working in the islamist terror threat industry. Kind of stupid right? So let’s think and write about how the islamist djihadi thing is growing in Syria and how it has to be the main point of everything that is happening and will happen.
- 8 – Switch for anti-imperialist… but not pro-regime!
If you have no opinion about Syria, you can choose to be pro-regime.
Syria is a secular country resisting to imperialist invasion launched by Zionist US backing Saudi Arabia and Qatar throwing wave of terrorists against the regime because they are zionist Sunni western bastards who want to destroy independent anti-imperialist anti-zionist secular Shia Syria. There is purposely no comma in the sentence you just read so you can chose to put some where you want to make sense of it. Sadly enough, the proud anti-imperialist regime is kind of shaking right now.
So becoming pro-regime is tricky: if you are too much into that kind of propaganda, you may read things like “Syria is resisting the imperialist plot; Syrian army cleared 2967 terrorist zones today, terrorists are loosing control, Assad launches new reform program that will solve everything etc.” If Assad saves Syria from terrorism, Syria is no longer doomed right? On the other hand, if you assume that secular anti-imperialist regime that protected minorities in Syria is about to end, you may be at awe with your pro-regime beliefs. The solution is to be anti-imperialist without being too much pro-regime. This will help you to see how bad is the US-Zionist plot and read on the internet about the horrible destruction and death the “imperialists” are causing, while avoiding the pro-regime material that says Assad is winning and Syria will become “stable” again soon. Syria is doomed, the US zionist plot will destabilise the region forever before starting a nuclear war against Iran for oil.
- 9 – Be neutral and objective
It is quite simple to be objective about Syria, you just have to be neutral. Neutrality will lead to objectivity, it is a mathematical equation.
So take the “opposition” and give them five minutes to talk and state their point of view. Then take some pro-regime and give same the exact same amount of minutes to talk and state their point of view. The image you will get from that is objectivity.
As a collateral damage you will also get from that the impression that “Regime” and “Opposition” are two equal forces with both their reasons to fight each other. Because you are neutral, these reasons will appear to you completely irrelevant. Simply they just want to kill each other and they have to because they are two opposing forces.
Because you have to maintain strict neutrality, you will never be able to see a side better than the other. You will have to equate the war crimes, equate the military gain and losses, equate the amount of time given to one propaganda or the other. In the end, you will have the picture of two perfectly equal sides unable to win over the other: the very perfect everlasting middle east war you always dreamed about!
In war (and in history) usually, both sides are not equals and eventually you get a winner and a looser and war ends. There is an oppressor and an oppressed, a killer and a victim, one that make a genocide and one that is the victim of this genocide, one who attacks and one who defends, a conqueror against one who fights for his freedom, a master and a slave… It can be sometimes hard to recognise who is who so neutrality is the best solution. Ultimately you will have to mix black and white enough to achieve the perfect grey. To do that you may choose to make the oppressor look nicer but you risk falling into becoming pro-regime (beware number 8).
The other method is to make both sides look really bad. This is the best method as you can paint everything in black without caring too much for the perfect grey. Grey may be depressive but all in black is always better. So the Assad regime is really bad, it kills, genocides, tortures and commits mass massacres etc. but the “opposition” is also bad, commits massacres, kills, tortures. So both sides are equals (objectivity is maintained) and they are both equally horrible. This method is also perfect because you will have to insist on the human rights violations committed by the “rebels”. Depicting revolutionaries as a bunch of incapable militias plundering innocents civilians caught in the middle is also very interesting.
While engaging into this, you will launch a crusade against “Arab spring optimists” or “idealists”: any people who does not think Syria is doomed. There are not so many of them left but you can invent them with sentences like “everyone was very enthusiastic about the Arab spring at the beginning but now we clearly see that things are not turning well”. The sad and depressive future you insist on depicting is thus directly fighting optimism, your worst enemy. Even better, it is “realistic” because it will oppose to people you will name “idealists”. It will help shape your mind in thinking that your sad view is real, because you call it realistic and any positive view is idealist (thus unreal).
What is happening now happened before and will happen again. It will end badly as it ended badly before and will end badly tomorrow. People should be happy with what they have, trying to reach imaginary goal or “freedom” is unrealistic. And you have to be realistic because we live in the reality and the reality is realistic. You know what you had yesterday, but you do not know what tomorrow will be made of. Syria was not such a bad place, they had food, electricity, water and they wont have it tomorrow because they are changing things today. Things were good in the past, at least not so bad. Because it was the past we knew what it looked like. But we do not know the future so it can only be worse. There is a chance things will not be worse but this is a very very small chance, ridiculous…
The key thing here is to predict future will be worse than the past. Or future will be as worse as the past was. Do not, in no case, allow dates or precise events into your mind. Future is future, present is what is happening, past is what happened. Never say for instance: “November 1st 1954 in Algeria…” say “Algeria war”. Do not distinguish between 1905 Russian revolution, February 1917 and October 1917 Russian revolutions, Lenin, Stalin, Krushtchov etc. Say: “Russian revolution that brought communism in Russia”.
Now applied to the middle-east, this trick is of huge benefits. You can in one sentence connect old Umayyad califate with today’s Syria. You can explain behaviors of Arabs today by instances that go back as far as Muhammad’s times! You can erase whole centuries, making colonisation vanish from memories, predict future of civil war in Syria for three or four generation without thinking that two years ago you were sure Assad would last for ever.