Monday, June 12, 2006

The Ruling Ethos!

Why did you choose, so I was recently asked, to join the National Salvation Front, while some of your best friends back home seem to have joined the regime and are trying to help polish its image as diplomats and advisors?

My Answer:

We are all united in our belief that the main challenge today is about crisis management and damage control. We all believe that our current choices are between bad and worse. And we are all attempting to prevent the worst.

But some of us believe, and this where we surely disagree, that the worst will come should the Assads regime fall, as such a fall is bound to bring to a boil all suppressed internal contradictions of our society, and which are currently being kept in check by the authoritarian nature of the Assads rule. Moreover, and as well know, the Assads will simply not go gently into that good night, so some of the mayhem we fear will indeed be instigated by them, just as the Baathists are doing today in Iraq.

Others, on the other hand, myself included, believe that the worst will come on the hands of the Assads themselves. They are simply too greedy, too corrupt, too foolhardy, and sometimes downright stupid, and too bigoted at their heart of heart (despite all this show and tell about marrying Sunni women) to lead us out of this quagmire that we fell into as a result of their foolish policies and their continuous focus on their own particularistic interests and agendas.

Moreover, and since we all know that the Assads are more than willing to start killing their own people in order to stay in power, and since we all know that corruption plays a major role in this attitude of theirs, what makes us think that they are going to change their minds tomorrow?

What are we betting on here? Why are we buying them time?

Fear is one part of the answer of course. But no, not fear only vis-à-vis the idea of change itself, but fear of assuming the moral responsibility for the consequences of that change. The old question of the moral burden is at stake here, and it is gnawing at all our hearts and minds. We are united in this ethos as well, and there are no easy answers. The moral burden is immense.

That is why, and for all my argumentation and lobbying, when it comes to person to person contact, I don’t like to push people beyond a certain limit, I just make my arguments listen to theirs, debate the matter briefly, then leave it at that. Aggressiveness has its limits here, at least for me. I am not some messianic fool on some holy mission. I am not a proselytizer and I often doubt the veracity of the very message I am delivering. I am not armed with certainty to my teeth and doubts are killing me. Still, I’d much rather suffer the pains of their feeding-frenzy upon the last remnants of my soul than put up with the deadweight of certainty upon it.

But, of course, I believe, there is a baser instinct at work here as well. Indeed, working for regimes, especially when they seem all powerful and stable, provides both the coveted recognition and the comforting safety. While working for the opposition, especially in such feverish times and in countries such as ours where fear and suspicion rule the day, will subject one to all sorts of nasty accusations, not exactly the kind of recognition one craves, and open one and one’s family to all sorts of unattractive and downright dangerous possibilities. Indeed, to appear while wrapping oneself in the flag is always much more preferable and alluring than wrapping oneself in doubts and question marks. Most people wait until they are pushed to this position rather than adopt freely and willingly.
Not everybody is a self-flagellating fool.