We have another Heisenberg “protip” for readers: when you read “analysis” of Mideast affairs, you should ask yourself whether the folks writing it have any formal training in political science. Because you know, if they don’t, what they write might not be worth the digital paper it’s printed on.
And do you know what the best part is? When pressed, a lot of these folks penning opinion pieces on Syria with no formal training in political science will resort to the Nassim Taleb excuse: political scientists are “pseudo-experts” and therefore their training is useless anyway.
Now that may be true (we’ve long said that “soft” science should not be confused with “hard” science), but keep in mind that Taleb has a distinct advantage in that argument. Namely that he’s experienced Mideast turmoil first-hand. So you know, it’s kind of like an astronaut telling everyone else that rocket scientists are idiots because they’ve never been to space.
But Taleb aside, be careful whose analysis you trust when it comes to Syria. Whether you care for our own analysis or not, do at least consider that we do have formal training in political science. Lots and lots of it. And we’re happy to elaborate if you shoot us an e-mail.
More specifically when it comes to Syria, be especially wary of anyone peddling the “false flag” narrative with regard to chemical attacks perpetrated by the Assad regime. That’s a popular alt-Right meme that belongs in the same category as “9/11 was an inside job” and “Sandy Hook wasn’t real.”
Ok, it’s a little different. But not much.
That’s not to say that it isn’t entirely possible that Sunni extremists (i.e. not Assad) have used chemical weapons in Syria. And see that’s one of the rhetorical tactics the “false flaggers” use. But make no mistake, it’s a strawman. Anyone who talks about gas attacks in Syria is automatically portrayed by the alt-Right as a person who is perpetuating a vast conspiracy to demonize Assad and, by extension, Russia. But in reality, people are just trying to understand what happened. If it turns out that it wasn’t Assad, well then let’s find out who it was.
“Yes” a whole lot of people think Bashar al-Assad has gassed his own people. And “yes,” there seems to be a whole hell of a lot of evidence to support that. And “yes,” to the extent that evidence proves Assad did indeed gas some folks, that’s an argument for removing him. And “yes,” if he did gas some folks, that’s (another) reason to chide Moscow and Tehran for supporting him.
But – and this is the big “but” – at the end of the day, the story is not: “Assad gassed some folks.” The story is: “some folks were gassed.” And by “folks” we mean: some children.
So it really doesn’t matter who did the gassing. The point, rather, is that regardless of who gassed who, we (America) need to consider options for making sure people don’t get gassed. And you can pretend that Assad has never had anything to do with gas attacks all you want, but what you can’t do is argue that all “good old” Bashar wants to do is protect Syrians and make everything ok. That’s so laughably absurd to anyone who knows anything about Syria, that it’s barely worth repeating.
Even Donald Trump understands this. As you’ve probably heard by now, Trump had some harsh words for Assad on Wednesday, but as you might have noticed, the emphasis was on the dead kids. Because dead kids are bad no matter who killed them. Specifically, Trump said this (from CNN):
President Donald Trump, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said the chemical attack against Syrian civilians “crossed a lot of lines for me” and changed the way he views Syria and leader Bashar al-Assad.
“I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly,” Trump said responding to a question about a White House statement Tuesday that blamed the attack in part on President Barack Obama.
“It is now my responsibility. It was a great opportunity missed,” Trump said.
Trump did maintain that Obama’s failure to respond to his red line threat “was a blank threat (that) set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world.”
The President condemned the attack as “heinous.”
“Yesterday’s chemical attack, a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity,” Trump said from the Rose Garden. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter.”
So believe what you will about whose “fingerprints” are actually on the attack, but please don’t buy into the ridiculous notion that this didn’t actually happen and that this is some giant conspiracy aimed at demonizing a “benevolent” Assad regime and his backers at the Kremlin.
Because as we noted on Tuesday, by believing that you tacitly make a mockery of this: