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An Assad Apologetic

I should preface this by stating that I do not believe this would be the best option for the Muslim World or the greater MENA region. I think that there are better ways to solve many of the problems in the region, which include terrorism, the expansion of Islamism in both the West and the secular states of the area, and the persecution of Christians and other minorities. However, as a thought experiment, many of the issues surrounding the Muslim World, and even issues between and involving Western States, could potentially be solved by completing the system of Ba’athism and giving Bashar al-Assad dominion over the whole of the Middle East North Africa region.

To the average Western audience, I’m certain that this seems both bizarre and laughably wrong. I can already hear the scoffs- but this is a more serious suggestion than one may first believe. From the perspective of International Relations, this is actually quite sane. My personal beliefs regarding MENA are somewhat unorthodox and based in my Catholic faith, which I don’t seek to convince you of in this blog post, so I’ll attempt to argue for this from a reasonably centrist perspective rather than purely my own.

One criticism I’m certain I would hear should I ever verbally present this idea to someone is that of instability- Assad has spent the last half-decade barely holding his country together, and one highly doubts that much would change if his beleaguered regime were to be thrust into a position of administration over the whole of his region. Firstly, one must realize that the greatest threat to total and human security in the Middle East is not intranational conflicts, but rather, international wars. The Syrian Civil War has been bloody, with perhaps 400,000 soldiers and civilians killed total. The Iran-Iraq War, meanwhile, cost perhaps double that number of Iranian soldiers alone to perish, according to official Iraqi estimates. When the number of civilians and Iraqi casualties is added to this sum, we find that over 1.1 million individuals perished as a result of this conflict- over 275% as many as died in the Syrian conflict. Also, consider the ramifications of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, causing the UN to issue an embargo of the former nation that, according to 34-year UN administrative veteran Denis Halliday, amounted to a genocide. The New York Times reported that perhaps 576,000 children died as a result of starvation from these actions.

That leads into my next counterpoint to the issue of instability- one could ask, “Well, why wouldn’t Assad’s government be warlike? Certainly, if Saddam could build the fourth largest military in the world and invade his neighbors, why not Assad, given all of Alexander’s empire?”

Assad would never be able to do this because he would constantly be bogged down with local bruhahas and peacekeeping. The administrative demands of such an empire would be vast, and the sheer military presence required to prevent any serious outbreaks of separatism would make mounting a foreign invasion impossible. Additionally, his only real targets for invasion would either be countries where brutal wars are currently ongoing, such as Sudan and Somalia, where a foreign intervention for the purposes of bringing about lasting and serious order would likely be a positive change regarding human security. One topic that many in the US are concerned about is Israel- wouldn’t, despite all we’ve mentioned before, there still be the possibility of war between such a large state and such a small, relatively isolated nation? No. Coalescing all political authority in Assad would firstly greatly reduce the possibility of in invasion of Israel- such a war in the modern day could really only be fought covertly, as Israel would be able to and arguably would be justified in threatening a nuclear blast on Assad’s home and capital should they be outright invaded. Additionally, the sheer size and mere possibility that the whole of MENA’s armies may rush across the Israeli border in a way never before seen, truly under one banner, would not only greatly deter Israeli aggression, but also, perhaps finally bring Israel to the negotiating table over such issues as the Golan Heights and Palestine. Now, one may object- “Assad wouldn’t be able to invade, but could call every unit around to respond to an invasion? What gives?” Well, a number of things, including the fact that an Israeli invasion would be the Platonic ideal of a “rally around the flag” moment, and that the international community, including the USA (as evidenced by President Trump’s current tone on Israeli settlements and policy, and similar statements from Macron and others) would quite likely not support such an action. Politically, a democracy (no matter how draconian) like Israel could not justify a traditional invasion against such a large state to their voters when they could only get away with such minimal intervention in the depths of the Syrian Civil War, even after the first reported use of chemical weapons by Assad.

Now, we’ve agreed that the state will never be stable in the way that, say, the United States is stable. This can and likely would be a generally good thing, but of course, this all leads into the next issue- “With instability, people are going to want to leave! Forced from their homes- how many refugees will there be now?”

There will be no better impetus for the European Community to actually create a meaningful, permanent solution to the refugee solution than this serious political change. Firstly, the practice of dictators like Erdogan of Turkey of condoning migration for political gain would have to be seriously addressed with a persona non grata like Assad in charge. The political ramifications of this, in addition to the drastic change in circumstances, would likely cause many nations including the growingly Islamo-sceptic France of Emmanuel Macron to actively support helping migrants in their own country or neighboring countries.

Speaking of the West, this sort of thing would very likely solve a number of issues facing the West politically. For example, despite their current state of alliance, the goals of these countries would invariably begin to clash. These would be two petroleum-centric states who desire similar spheres of influence and occupy territory incredibly close to one another. While Russia has previously been able to make friends with states like Syria and Iran, who perceived a need for protection and were grateful for the assistance provided by Russia, Russia would no longer be able to act as a powerbroker for such a large state with undoubtedly serious aspirations. They would naturally disagree, forcing the area into a multipolar balance of power situation, where the US and Russia could be forced to settle their differences regarding such things as NATO and Ukraine for their collective good. The same goes for the US and the EU- there would certainly be a more pressing reason for nations like Germany to cede to Trump’s military spending demands if such a state existed just across two straights.

Again, I don’t support this as a solution to the issues of the Muslim World. However, if one purports to value human security and stability in the region, then it’s intellectually honest and frankly almost necessary to hold or at least consider this as a hypothetical solution. Obviously, this is a pipe dream- I don’t believe this is feasible in any way, and hardly believe that this is possible. However, I only seek to describe the results of such a thing, and after considering the implications from the perspective chosen, there is reason to suppose the expansion of Assad’s dominion to be a very good thing.

Living Bibi, Living Kim

Israel and North Korea have the same foreign policy.

That’s not fully true, but close enough that you’d be right to see it that way.

Here’s what I mean to say- Israel and North Korea have responded in the same way to similar problems, and they have been incredibly successful in doing so. It might be odd for you to read “foreign policy success” and “North Korea” so closely together, but the truth of the matter is that the poor, increasingly isolated regime has done an incredible job of maintaining itself over the past half-century, something stronger and larger regimes than itself have not been able to do. Certainly, if you look at Israel from an American perspective, you see a country adored by Congress, one we send over 3 billion in aid alone to annually, that has been a significant issue in every Presidential race in living memory; the issue, indeed, always seems to be who supports that nation more, whose plan will defend it more securely. Now look at North Korea: abandonment by its allies has only accelerated under Trump, with sweeping new sanctions targeting what little trade the country has left and assets owned by the ruling cabal recently being passed in the Security Council with an abstention by China. Certainly, there is a significant difference there, correct? Well, there is, but it’s mainly in the framing.

Let’s start with Israel. Regardless if you support or oppose the state’s actions, existence, or Washington’s involvement with them, you must admit that they have not only parlayed their position quite well, but employed an excellent game theory that’s maintained success, to borrow from Peterson, not only in each individual game, but throughout the metagame set. Now, there are a number of intricacies in the intra- and interstate situation of US support for Israel alone (cough cough, AIPAC), but right now I propose you look at what I feel is the cornerstone of their policy- The Sampson Option.

It’s the Cold War, and the US needs all the friends it can get. A brief conflict in 1948 ensured that a certain new country in the Middle East would not be a friend of the region’s more established states, who then sided, nominally, with the USSR. One thing lead to another, and Israel came to be snugly within the confines of American protection. This, however, was by no means assured- certainly, there were many powerful proponents of Israeli interests in America at this time, and you don’t have to be a genius to realize there still are. Despite this, Israel couldn’t always assume that America would rush to their aid just yet. Nixon, the ultimate political maverick and undisputed best President of the 20th Century, was just elected on a policy of getting ourselves out of Vietnam, and the public wanted no part in another quagmire. So, in 1973, when the Yom Kippur war broke out and Israel needed assistance, Nixon was hesitant to send supplies, lest he find himself on the slippery slope of intervention.

So, Israel did the sensible thing and threatened to destroy the world with Nuclear weapons.

It wasn’t that explicit, exactly, but that’s what the “Sampson Option” is- we stay up or everyone goes down with us. And it worked like a charm. Israel has semi-secretly had nuclear weaponry since the ’60s, and now they applied them. This way, a small country put itself on a parity of force with the US. If they fell, that’s game over. London, Paris, maybe even New York or Washington are gone. They made it apparent that it was in our best interests to have Israel survive, and you can call that detestable, insane, and so forth- I’d agree. And that’s the beauty. This was described as the “Mad Dog” strategy by general Moshe Dayan (two guesses as to his nationality). Israel made itself “too dangerous to bother”. In doing so, Israel managed, despite its size and uneasy positioning, to make sure that the premier global power would never want to see it fall. That weaponry made sure of it.

Now, how is North Korea any different?

I don’t mean to indict anyone here (I can feel the glares of every pro-Israeli twitter account on me right now), all I mean to say is that this strategy works, and both Israel and North Korea use it. Kim isn’t stupid, nor is he insane, but he loves that you think he is. That means you fear he’ll actually use what he has, making the nuclear arsenal an effective deterrent. He’s taken the concept of mad-dogging to a whole new level, and in a world where the US seems to invade or destabilize every regime they dislike, Kim knows that one day he could end up like Qaddafi, sodomized in a sewer with a bayonet. In that case, how is wanting a parity of force at all irrational? Sure, there are negatives, but Kim’s grandfather was on the losing side of an ideological conflict, and he knows his nation is too far down that path to change peacefully any time soon- indeed, his father saw what happened in allied Romania during the period of his rule. It’s the same strategy, only differing in the framing. Israel makes the threat with the goal of continued assistance, and it works. Even if the public and Pentagon wanted Israel wiped off the map, we couldn’t do it- you’ve given them nothing to lose at that point, and they have the tool that ensures we have plenty to. No one likes Kim, but he wants to survive in power, and get to the negotiation table. Saddam wanted the same, and his lack of conventional parity meant that he would be destroyed. The Kims saw this, and knew that a even a hated nation could survive if they, perhaps to put it lightly, made it clear the guy on the other side was better off supporting the status quo. As long as Kim has his weapons and we think he’ll use them, he cannot be removed from without. Israel survived a Cold War and a number of hot ones because of this strategy, and I’m certain that if nothing changes, the Kims will outlive this period just as well.


Introducing Best Words Magazine


Political commentary has become almost worthless. With the proliferation of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, politics has regained its former prominence and once again became the national pastime this year as the nation watched Donald Trump fight his way to the White House. For years we, the ignorant, unwashed masses, looked to the professionals on Fox News and NBC to provide insightful commentary and accurate news.

As well all know, the professionals in both punditry and newscasting failed miserably in their respective rolls as nearly every talking head called the most recent presidential election for Hillary Clinton and seemingly every news man manipulated the facts to support her. George Will, a once great writer, now a melodramatic prima donna has been fired from Fox News. The New York Times is failing, and upon their defeat by Donald Trump in November issued a desperate letter to readers promising to do better.

The establishment has crumbled; but what of alternative media? Where the establishment lacked honesty and accuracy, the insurgent alternative media (a mostly conservative movement) lacks in quality and insight. Say what you will about Charles Krauthammer, he never tried to sell me a podcast, a coffee mug, a t-shirt, a magazine subscription, or a book (until the twilight of his career). George Will may have lost touch years ago but he never published an insultingly simple listicle “ten things you need to know…,” “five reasons why Barack Obama…,” etc.

It seems as though the Hamiltonian bourgeois press of the Cable news crowd as well as the Jacksonian proletariat press of the Twitter-sphere have both been bankrupted by their own excesses. The establishment media by their disconnection from the people and the insurgent media’s sloven appeasement of the people. Any self respecting young person would find himself disgusted by the pretentious musings of the elitist New York media as well as the internet sludge processed for partisan consumption.

Is there not a middle ground between Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard and Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire? Is there a middle ground that doesn’t air nutriceutical commercials every twenty minutes trying to sell super male vitality?

There is today.

Starting today, Wednesday January 25th, 2017, The Best Words Magazine will produce a weekly series of essays by a growing number of intelligent, ideologically diverse authors offering an alternative angle. Our focus is on providing well written, original opinion. Best Words is not a news publication, does not produce a podcast, and does not maintain a store.

Our only mission to provide top notch, well written commentary to challenge the endless conveyor belt of predictable, redundant, pre-chewed partisan hackery. We pull no punches, we are not ideologues, and we’re not radicals. The Best Words Magazine is for smart people who love their country and want the best words.