Bashar and Asma Assad in Paris, 2008. (Photo: Reuters)
Reading Assad’s emails
The hacked purportedly personal emails of the Syrian leader and his wife reveal how out of touch they were with the bloody violence in the country, writes David Kenner in Foreign Policy.
The emails paint a picture of a Syrian leadership that is more bumbling and oblivious than villainous: On the day after the Syrian military began shelling the city of Homs, for example, Bashar sent Asma a video of country crooner Blake Shelton’s song God Gave Me You. A look at the president’s iTunes purchases also shows that he purchased the iPad game Real Racing 2 in February and is a fan of American singer Chris Brown.
Deterring Iran is the best option
Writing in the Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria makes the non-military case for dealing with a nuclear Iran.
Deterrence is a difficult concept to accept because it is counterintuitive: The prospect of destruction produces peace. And yet its record is remarkable. Great powers went to war with brutal regularity for hundreds of years. Then came nuclear weapons, and there has not been a war between great powers since 1945 — the longest period of peace between great powers in history. The United States and the Soviet Union had a more intense and far-reaching rivalry than almost any two great powers ever. Each thought the other wanted to destroy its way of life. And yet, this rivalry did not result in war. Both sides were deterred.
1848: History’s Shadow Over the Middle East
Robert D. Kaplan of Stratfor warns that the ultimate failure of the 1848 European revolutionaries could happen in the Mideast too.
While Syria’s al Assad is seen as illegitimate, that does not mean that the future in Syria automatically means either democracy or sectarian chaos. It may mean eventually a new form of authoritarianism that alleviates or better manages such instability in the first place. Remember that a system is not defined by the name it gives itself, but by how the power relationships actually work behind the scenes. Thus, Iraq may call itself a democracy, but in truth it is a sectarian “thugocracy” that barely keeps order, and if it continues to falter in that regard, it may eventually be replaced by a full-fledged authoritarian regime (hopefully one far less brutal than Saddam Hussein’s).
Was the Saudi Government Involved in the 9/11 Terror Attacks?
American politicians and journalists believe that the Saudis had a role in the September 11 attacks, despite the official rejection of such a link, writes Jamie Reno in the Daily Beast.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, [former senator Bob] Graham says, “The three primary questions that remain for me are: what was the extent of involvement by Saudi officials in 9/11, what was their motivation, and why has the U.S. government gone to such lengths to cover it up?” Graham believes Washington should launch a new investigation that would attempt to answer these questions. He says the 9/11 Commission’s final report does not exonerate the Saudis, and insists that neither the media nor federal law enforcement ever got to the bottom of the plot.
Syria a chemical weapon ‘powder keg ready to explode,’ experts fear
Peter Goodspeed of the National Post looks at the alarmingly tenuous hold the Syrian regime has on its weapons of mass destruction.
Defections from Syria’s armed forces and attacks on government weapons storage depots by rebel soldiers all pose a threat to chemical and biological weapon stockpiles. Deadly chemical and biological agents could escape into the atmosphere as the result of an attack or the weapons themselves could fall into the hands of insurgents or terrorists. “If Syria collapses into chaos or the army splits between Assad’s fellow Alawites and the majority Sunnis, a key question will be the fate of these chemical weapons and their delivery systems,” said former CIA officer Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution. “Terrorist groups, such as Assad’s friends, Hezbollah and Hamas, would love to get sarin warheads.”