A terrific piece, a must-read, by Fouad Ajami on the advance of freedom in Lebanon and the slow-motion collapse of Bashar Assad’s Baathist Party in Syria: “Autumn of the Autocrats.” Here’s a taste:
The entrenched systems of control in the Arab world are beginning to give way. It is a terrible storm, but the perfect antidote to a foul sky. The old Arab edifice of power, it is true, has had a way of surviving many storms. It has outwitted and outlived many predictions of its imminent demise.
But suddenly it seems like the autumn of the dictators. Something different has been injected into this fight. The United States — a great foreign power that once upheld the Arab autocrats, fearing what mass politics would bring — now braves the storm. It has signaled its willingness to gamble on the young, the new, and the unknown. Autocracy was once deemed tolerable, but terrorists, nurtured in the shadow of such rule, attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Now the Arabs, grasping for a new world, and the Americans, who have helped usher in this unprecedented moment, together ride this storm wave of freedom.
And, as a hilarious companion piece, the Syrian blogger Karfan (“Disgusted”) posts on his latest “myth”: “Baath Is a Political Entity.” Again, a taste:
Karfan wonders when in monkey’s name this “Thing” became a real party. Yes, granted we call it “The Party”and “Baath Party”, but these are mere names of some “thing” that exists and we had to call it a name. It does not mean anything like a political party or any political or organizational entity. It just exists around us and between us like that black-cloud of pollution on top of Damascus and Banias, like the sewage stink, or like the Mukhabarat’s Peugeot white cars.