Tuesday, September 08, 2009
What the repeated and convoluted alliances of Jumblatt show is that in the patchwork network of tribal conflicts that stretch from the Atlantic to Central and South East Asia the one thing that does not work is nuance. It is essential to above all remain credible. The fact is that even most of the Strong Horses prove on closer examination to be surprisingly weak. Assad of Syria is merely another tribal minority boss like Jumblatt is. It is wrong to assume that these people are simple or foolish or thugs. They are perceptive and shrewd but know from thousands of years of bitter experience not to rely on abstract principles of law and justice or promises of future peace and prosperity. All contracts are temporary and the only thing they can trust is what they see. The lives of themselves and their families depend on those facts. If the palace of Assad were to vanish in a puff of smoke or the home village of the Alawite's was to experience some catastrophe then the next week nobody would remember Assad's name. As long as the US treats any of these people like representatives of Lockean Sovereigns who will partner with us in establishing the primacy of law over expediency we will continue to be treated like chumps and sold rotten rugs in the bazaar.