Which is worse, the Syria’s Ba’athist fascism, or Washington’s corporate democracy? Depends on how you look at it.
After four months of continued revolt in Syria, the Ba’athist state has shown its true face (as if no one ever knew what it was all about anyway), killing 1,400 Syrians and tens of thousands of refugees have poured into countries like Turkey – all in an effort to suppress an uprising that threatened the power of Bashar Al-Assad and his cronies.
In the face of continued determination to overthrow the Ba’athist regime, Assad made a speech at Damascus University where he promised “reform” but instead claimed the uprising is a conspiracy:
“There was little new in his more than hourlong address. In many ways, it was basically a repeat of his first speech before parliament, on March 30, although the applause was more restrained this time and the 45-year-old leader wasn’t interrupted by pledges of fealty. In the first speech, Assad blamed the then two-week-long unrest on a foreign conspiracy to undermine Syria for its anti-Israeli stance. He recycled that claim on Monday, adding that saboteurs — or ‘germs,’ as he described them — were, while the most dangerous element to the unrest, also the smallest. The protesters fell into three groups, the President said: those who were peaceful and had legitimate demands the government should meet; ‘outlaws’ and ‘criminals’ whose sole aim was to harm the state (he said there were 64,000 of these — ‘a small army’); and finally, the extremists and blasphemers who ‘kill in the name of religion, sow destruction in the name of reform and spread chaos in the name of freedom.'”
So, in other words, Assad concedes that a small minority of the protesters are legitimate, while the majority are made up of foreign-backed conspirators and local criminals. What constitutes a “peaceful protester” and a “criminal” is, naturally, up to Assad and his security services who have already shown a penchant for indiscriminate violence against non-protesters and children; his speech merely provided a framework to rationalize and justify the bloodshed to continue his dictatorship by dividing between those that he will deem legitimate (i.e. those he can effectively co-op) and those that are uncompromising in their fight for freedom (the “criminals” and “blasphemers”).
Bashar’s message is clear – continue the revolt and his father’s legacy of crushing dissent through mass murder like Hama in 1982 will continue on into the night.
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s message was equally clear.
“Clinton wrote under the headline ‘There Is No Going Back in Syria’ that it was ‘increasingly clear’ the crackdown was an irreversible shift in the country’s push towards reform, in an English translation provided by the State Department.
The regime’s ‘continued brutality may allow (Assad) to delay the change that is under way in Syria, it will not reverse it,’ Clinton wrote in the pan-Arab daily published in London.
‘The most important question of all — what does this mean for Syria’s future? — is increasingly clear: There is no going back.’ Assad’s actions have ‘shattered his claims to be a reformer,’ Clinton wrote.
A senior administration official said on Friday that the United States was studying whether war crimes charges could be brought against Syria.”
Syria’s future, indeed. The Obama administration has made Syria’s political future a priority – by “engaging” Damascus for the express purpose of weaning it away from its traditionally close relationship with Iran. It used engagement as a means of influencing the regime’s behavior – and now it’s using its behavior to influence its engagement .
If the U.S. decides to bring war crimes charges against Damascus, it would be done at the International Criminal Court – an institution it does not even recognize. Meanwhile, the number of Syrian deaths attributed to Assad – 1,400 – roughly corresponds to the number of Lebanese killed by Israel in 2006, and Palestinians killed by Israel in 2008/09. Both assaults happened with American support; Clinton and Obama in fact were vocal in their support for the former, while silent during the latter during Washington’s transition.
The question that comes to mind is, what’s the difference between these two? There are obvious differences here – the difference between dictatorship and corporate democracy; the difference between pulling the trigger and cheering those that pull the trigger. The only thing they both have in common are piles of dead Arabs.
So we’re left with my original question; which is worse – the Syrian Ba’ath regime, or Washington?
The answer is … neither.
Fascism and corporate democracy have different ideologies and approaches, but at their core lies their common essence – the logic of power. And the exercise of power – whether domestic or global – is through violence. In this sense, the rulers of Damascus and Washington – despite their differences with each other – are united in their M.O., which is the M.O. of all governments, systems and their respective ruling classes, whether they’re Ba’athi party bosses or the leaders of the free enterprise world.