Monday, May 22, 2006

Was it Worth it?

Having followed the arguments on Joshua’s blog over the lat few days, I find myself finally temped to attempt my own debunking of the thesis he expounded on Creative Syria and which assigns an A to the Assads on matters of security. But I shall brief.

First, it should be clear by now, and we have indeed debated this matter on this blog on numerous occasions (for instance here, here and here), that the minoritarian character of the Assad regime has served to erode the very practical inter-communal arrangements and institutions, not to mention the overall spirit of tolerance, that made this part of the Middle East, that was haphazardly amalgamated into the modern state of Syria, a bit less prone to communal violence. Meanwhile, the Assads have so far failed to propose any alternative arrangement for inter-communal relations other than their illegitimate, authoritarian, cliquish and corrupt rule. Indeed, the Assads are not even remotely interested in providing a framework for the emergence of such an alternative, exactly because they know very well that it will add another layer of illegitimacy to their rule and will eventually spell their doom.

As such, the security that the Assads have provided for us had a very heavy price and came at the expense of everything else.

The most visible and heart-wrenching price is, of course, the more than 30,000 that were reported dead and the 17,000 that were reported missing in the “events” of the mid 70s and early 80s, and the more than 50,000 who paid a little unscheduled “visit to their aunt’s place” as they say (that is, to prison for those who are not too familiar with Syrian slang), with all the trimmings (i.e. torture) and with some of them staying for as long as 30 years.

But the list also includes: civil rights, the economy, development, hell, even sovereignty (for the Assads have to take some, if not a lot, of blame for the Golan Heights, after all, Assad Sr. was Defense Minister when it was lost and he never managed to get it back when he was President. Indeed, as I noted I my own post on Creative Syria, the “late Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad, for all his alleged foresight, has sought and failed throughout the 90s to get a deal that he could have had way back in 1978.”)

So, I guess, it is only fair to ask whether the kind of “security” delivered by the Assads was indeed worth the price that was paid for it. I, for one, don’t think so. I, for one, think that we could have found other ways to maintain our security and ensure stability of our country without having had to put up with an authoritarian regime and to sacrifice our basic right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Assads had the choice not to deprive us of this right, but they did not take it. The security they delivered pertained mostly to their survival and the advancement of their interests, not to ours. But they do get an A on that indeed.