America doesn’t “want regime change here, they want regime change of behaviour” says a Western Diplomat in Damascus.
But to many Syrians, the last two years of gathering crescendo are the run up to an Iraq-style war in ten years.
So lets turn to the Washington neo-cons driving this mad venture to find out just what their dreams are really made of.
It was Donald Rumsfeld who started the drum beating just days after they invaded Iraq. He accused Syria of sending night-vision goggles across the border.
Richard Perle, one of the founders of neo-Conservatism is one of the ‘experts’ at Benador Associates, a ‘political PR company’: one of the Washington Lobby, who blacken countries’ names.
They turn for the Syrian opinion not to someone living in Syria but to a Syrian economist at the World Bank, an institution at the heart of the neo-con empire builders.
He says the ‘Assad regime’ should be removed. Their only reference to Syrians themselves is the predictable “Syrians watched with a mixture of awe and admiration as millions of Afghans and Iraqis queued up to vote in their first-ever free elections in recent months.”
But the exciting part is what the neo-cons call for in Syria.
No invasion, they claim, what we want is a Gorbechov-style transition. Replace Assad with (Vice-President) Khaddam, a reformist and a member of the Sunni majority. He would then lead Syria to multi-party elections a year later.
Exciting stuff. But a few things are missing. Assad isn’t the problem, he’s made peace overtures, he’s been trying to build up a relationship with the US and reform Syria in a way never seen before in the Middle East. Assad is no less of a reformer than Khaddam.
It also assumes there is Iraq style resentment to Assad’s non-Sunni status. No. Assad has actively involved Sunnis and minorities (that’s why the Vice-President is a Sunni!).
The problem isn’t Bashar. The problem is his support base. He is supported by the old-guard who use US/Israeli threats as an excuse to hold back reform.
Interestingly in the days after Hafez Al-Assad’s death Khaddam and Sharaa thought they should have been named President. They agreed to support Bashar only on their terms.
But at least we can take comfort by knowing that there isn’t war, occupation and death at the end of George Bush’s Road to Damascus.
Another Benador article suggests that Europe is the victim of a lack of religion, and questions whether the Pope can save Europe like he saved Russia.