Friday, August 28, 2015


diagram courtesy of
Ever since I began this little world tour, I have found myself on occasions wondering which country is going to come top, and which bottom, of my personal league table. Sweden appears to be the front-runner for the top spot, though I am still only at S, which leaves both the United States and United Kingdom yet to come (neither has any chance of winning, but I was born in one and live in the other, so I will have to find ways to let them down gently from their arrogant belief in their own exceptionalism), and a suspicion that Uruguay might do to Sweden what Jordan Speith has done to Rory McIlroy. 

Speaking of golf, any number of countries have been shooting the political equivalent of birdies and eagles and even occasional albatrosses in their determination to achieve the prize of power, but as all golfers know, what comes one better than the birdie, the eagle and the albatross is the human being, and no country on this planet has done a better job of shooting people, and most especially its own people, and not just shooting them but exterminating them by any means available, over the past twelve years than has Syria. Indeed, I am tempted even to suggest that birdie-eagle-albatross-humanbeing needs to be extended, to differentiate between mere ethnic cleansing, the full genocide of the object of your xenophobia, and then this, this speciality of Bashar al-Assad: the murder of one's own supporters, by the hundreds of thousands, by means of cluster bombs and barrel bombs containing chemical compounds let alone shrapnel, and all for the simple reason that the moment he yields power he knows he will be killed, either by his own people or the international authorities, and so millions have to die or become refugees, just so that he can prolong his despicable life a while longer. Why has nobody assassinated him? Why has Vladimir Putin befriended him, yay indeed, stepped in to save him and his life?

What is even more disconcerting about Assad's murderous tyranny is that, when he came to power upon the death of his monster of a father, the world heaved a big sigh of relief. Here was a trained doctor, an ophthalmologist to be precise, graduate of the Western Eye Hospital in London, a playboy who enjoyed the western lifestyle of fast cars and fashion models and night clubs, and who was therefore certain to turn puritanically Ba'athist Syria into something more like Lebanon before its civil war, the French Riviera of the Middle East, with a democratic constitution, women's liberation, open media and religious tolerance. Wrong. What Bashar brought to the Presidency was what his father had trained in him: power for the Alawites, at any cost. He maintained the West's delusion for about a year, then went the way of all despots.

Numbers are difficult to ascertain, but at least a quarter of a million people are believed to have died in the civil war, and about three million have become refugees, mostly in Jordan and the Lebanon, while increasing numbers are following the pirate routes to Europe and dying in abandoned refrigerated vans on the Austro-Hungarian border, or making it to Germany or Sweden, the only countries in Europe who are reluctant to say out loud that they don't want them.

And then there is Islamic State - ISL, ISIS, Da'esh, or simply "so-called" as all the western media prefer - which is not yet included as a country in its own right in this blog... though maybe it should be. 
Nor have I yet included among the appendices a list of those countries which are actively engaged in military activity in Syria, because the title for that list would have to be "Participants In World War Three", and I do not want to make such an assertion by making such a list. I am writing this paragraph in December 2015, two weeks after the Paris massacre, during the week in which the British and German Parliaments voted to participate in the bombing; I suspect that, by the time these lines reach the final proof-reading stage, they will be obsolete and in need of updating.

Marks for: 0

Marks against: 1, the President

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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