Asad’s survivability, and US MSM

David Sanger in NYT today:

How did Mr. Obama find himself in this trap? Partly, it was an accident of history: in the early, heady days of the Arab uprisings, no one bet that Mr. Assad would survive this long, in a country where his Alawite sect is a minority.

Not true. Of course, responsible analysis of foreign affairs is not a casino, so what analysts do is not “bet” on possibilities; rather, they make their best assessment based on the knowledge/experience base they have and their powers of analysis. On that basis, since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, I have expressed my judgment that Pres. Asad has had much stronger support in Syrian public opinion than, for example, former Pres. Mubarak had; and that all the pundits saying “Asad won’t last until ‘the end of 2011’,” or whatever other timeframe they put on it, were ill-informed and wrong.

In 2011, based on my many decades of experience analyzing and writing about matters Syrian, I was able to have my views heard in Washington a tiny bit– at two small think tanks. Did David Sanger or any other wellpaid participant in the MSM ever seek my views, or those of other analysts who, also knowing a lot about Syrian internal affairs, voiced the same conclusions? No. Instead, they all just kept quoting the same denizens of the media-Beltway bubble (with the ‘quoting’ often led by people at the so-called ‘Washington’ Institute for Near East Policy, which is actually the AIPAC-spawned Institute for NEP… not designed to be a source of cool, impartial analysis or policy advice.)

This bubble/echo-chamber mentality among the MSM and the rest of the along-the-Acela-line elite had consequences. In April 2012, one mid-level official in the U.S. diplomatic machine told me in exasperation, “We never imagined that Asad would still be in power this long! We were convinced he would be out by the end of 2011.” I reminded this person that I had warned all along that Asad’s regime had more popular support and political resilience than the other regimes that had toppled the previous year.

Anyway, all this is just for the record at this point. But please, don’t let David Sanger get away with his claim that “in the early, heady days of the Arab uprisings, no one bet that Mr. Assad would survive this long.” I was there, David Sanger, and I was presenting my analysis. It was just that you– and too many others like you– weren’t paying attention.

Crucially, if more people in the U.S. power elite had tried to really understand the dynamics inside Syria, the Obama administration would not have taken the step, in August 2011, of declaring that “Asad has to go before there can be any intra-Syrian negotiations.” It is that position, steadfastly hewed to by the administration since then, that has condemned the Syrian people to two additional years of wrenching internal struggle and horrific levels of destruction of their infrastructure and their society.

4 thoughts on “Asad’s survivability, and US MSM

  1. rosemerry

    Thanks Helena. So many ignorant “experts” are given the chance to speak or write. Someone who genuinely knows is rarely found.
    Obama’s “Asad must go” matches his statement that Bradley Manning was guilty years before the fake trial took place. Illegality is now a policy.

    Reply
  2. salah

    Helena,
    You quoted David Sanger saying: “Mr. Assad would survive this long, in a country where his Alawite sect is a minority” which he is true on this but your argument went far from argument made by David Sanger>
    What David Sanger is true that as far as minority group rules te country which he is correct in this.
    However Assad regime no doubt for 60 years have impose Ba’ath rules which kept the country not in good shape, let not forget the fish of his father in Halab city years ago, as for Bashar he got in troubles that his father pass to him, then ah could net get out of the regime rules and he continue in same way told regime follow.
    In my opinion he lost the opportunity to make changes and rule Syria in new area in today world, I was enthusiasm with his coming to rule Syria specially company with his wife to UK and met the H.M. Queen, although with not comfort of handing power from father to son as looks like Monarchy that republic/ non Monarchy regime.

    So after Bush war and invading Iraq Sadly all rules in ME did not get the lesson or in fact I call it “Clap on the Face” to weak up and open the door for more freedom more transparent rules of law that make their nation looks forward to work and build their countries and their future specially with very high Oil prices, I can say a jump in the revenue from the oil prices which should those country/ nation come closer, working for the benefits of the region and the people. Instead they when other direction with supporting terrorists groups (Very clear example in Iraq, Egypt, Syria by Gulf States), fragmentation on very extreme view for any changes that may undermine their regimes.
    There is no doubt the regime in Syria not good and the war or the expecting war will be punishment for people of Syria (as we had in Iraq in 1991 afterward) but the regime will not really hurts.

    So this bring to point is this targeting the head of regime or Syria as a country?
    In my view this war it’s to destroy Syria as a country exactly as in Iraq, Libya and the rest regimes in ME will fall sooner after that, with no mercy whatsoever from me

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  3. salah

    Over the years, the Iranian leadership has nurtured contacts and relationships inside Syria’s Alawite community, particularly with senior Alawite figures in the security and intelligence services. They have a good feel for the dynamics inside this community. Whether the Iranian regime is ready to be part of a deal to unseat Assad remains unclear, but the fact that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps official has recently publicly admitted to the presence of elite Iranian forces in Syria is partly intended to send the message that a NATO-led military intervention in Syria will be costly. It is also a signal to the international community that any future deal in Syria must involve Iran.

    During the recent discussions in Baghdad between the global powers and Iran, the United States rejected an Iranian proposal to add Syria and Bahrain to the discussion agenda. It might be worth pursuing this proposal at the next round of talks in Moscow. Time and again, Iranian senior officials have stressed the need for a political resolution to the Syrian crisis. They have been reaching out to different groups in the Syrian opposition. As the Western community keeps searching for a political solution in Syria, Iran might have some ideas about how to bring it about.

    What the Hell Should We Do About Syria?
    By Randa Slim | MAY 31, 2012

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