February 27, 2005

A Porcupine Readies Its Quills

Once again, it's time to face evidence that the government of yet another country for which our political overclass has so much disdain is probably smarter than the Bush administration:

In what Iraqi officials say was a gesture of good will, Syria reportedly captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half-brother, along with 29 other members of the former Baath Party.

Sabawi Ibrahim Al-Hassan, who was also a former presidential adviser to Hussein, was captured near the Iraqi border with Syria, in Hasakah, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Al-Hassan was No. 36 on the U.S. military's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, issued after the American-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The Iraqi officials did not say exactly where or when he had been captured, only that he was detained after the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. ...

This was a very smart move. There's no way of knowing how long they knew Al-Hassan's whereabouts, whether it was measured in days or months. There's no doubt that the Syrian government has the means and proclivity to disappear people if they want. They had many options at their disposal.

There's no doubt whatever that there couldn't have been a better time to produce evidence of a willingness to support America's fight against the remnants of the Hussein regime and won't harbor its enemies. To attack them after this would ensure maximum damage to the remaining shreds of America's prestige.

What are the odds that the neocons won't continue falling prey to the hubris that encourages them to confuse wealth and military might, or lack thereof, with cunning and good judgement? The porcupine-baiting will continue apace, no doubt.

Posted by natasha at February 27, 2005 11:52 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

so far, these neocons have shown no inclination whatsoever in any other's opinions, desires or wishes. Looking for less reach on their part is more than likely an exercise in futility.


Posted by: bruce in oz at February 28, 2005 05:05 AM

Probably true. Perhaps we should pause to admire the intellectual superiority of President Bashar, and only hope that in the future, we, too, can be so fortunate to political leadership as advanced and progressive as SYRIA, a republic under military regime since March 1963, with a legal system based on Islamic law; special religious courts. Until then I guess we'll have to endure the indignities of our backwards, Constitution-based federal republic.

Posted by: Michael at February 28, 2005 06:36 AM

"Perhaps we should pause to admire the intellectual superiority of President Bashar, and only hope that in the future, we, too, can be so fortunate to political leadership as advanced and progressive as SYRIA..."

Exactly the attitude I had in mind when writing this post. It is, and there's no other accurate way to say it, stupid and arrogant to assume that just because the leaders of another country are brutal and dictatorial that they're also less intelligent. Intelligence is not correlated with inherited wealth, accent, country of origin, generosity of spirit, or any other acquired or innate virtue.

When lives hang in the balance, it's more than stupid, it's criminally reckless to underestimate the intelligence of the opposition. This has nothing to do with whether or not Syria's leadership is democratic or enlightened, it has to do with whether or not they're capable of outsmarting our own government at various crucial junctures. Good decision-making on their part might still not be enough to save them if the US decides to go in anyway, but it could make our lives exceptionally miserable.

You sound like the guests at the barbecue in the beginning of Gone With The Wind, opining proudly that one 'gentleman' was worth several Yankees. If your tactics are bad and your leaders lack judgement, then conflict will not go well for you in the long run. There's nothing else to consider.

And, my god, can you seriously read the human rights complaints that feature regularly on this blog and think that anyone here thinks Syria is a progressive country? What a ridiculous argument.

Posted by: natasha at February 28, 2005 03:42 PM

Sarcastic, enthusiastic disagreements are enjoyable and valid, I do it myself. I hope my remarks weren't taken as provocation. I've managed to avoid reckless or mean-spirited personal remarks, and hope for the same in return. Insulting comebacks and name calling--stupid, arrogant, etc.--aimed at those who disagree? It's a common theme here, and it's a drag on otherwise interesting discussions. Courtesy, or the benefit of the doubt, is in short supply, but it's not an unreasonable thing to hope for.

The "Gone with the Wind" characterization was misguided, but funny, colorful, entertaining enough to lighten things up after the string of unnecessary putdowns.

I maintain that Syria's Governmental Brainpower is overrated. And yes, natasha, I do see the frequent impulse to elevate the status and compliment the intelligence of regressive, repressive regimes in order to score points against our own when a less dramatic example would have done the job.

It tends to confirm a commonly-held view of the Left's barely concealed hatred of the U.S., and intolerance of anything or anybody we disagree with, often aiming our arrows even at our own kind. Not always the best reflex when confronted with a contrary view.

Since I wrote my earlier post, Lebanon's Syrian-installed government stepped down, as protesters rallied in central Beirut. It's too soon to tell how this will unfold, but there's renewed hope for representational government in Lebanon, and an end to Syrian military occupation. This is good news, a historic enough occasion to overshadow our minor disagreements.

Posted by: Michael at March 1, 2005 07:23 PM

Gee, um, uh. If Baby Assad's regime is really smarter than the Bush administration... then why did it take them till the eleventh hour (and the fifty-ninth minute) to realize that they'd better start playing ball?

I've got to link to this screed. It's priceless.

Posted by: Alois at March 3, 2005 09:31 AM