Friday, July 20, 2012

Opening Pandora's Box in Damascus

A few weeks ago, I blogged that the international media was searching in vain for turning points in the Syrian revolution.

Last week, we may have finally seen one, when an apparent suicide attack killed Bashar al-Assad's defense minister, his brother-in-law, his deputy vice president, his interior minister, and his national security chief.

For purposes of comparison, imagine what would happen to the Obama administration if, in one day, Leon Panetta, Janet Napolitano, Joe Biden, Eric Holder and David Petraeus were all murdered.

This mass assassination followed four straight days of rebel attacks in Damascus, previously a stronghold of the regime. I think it's safe to say Syria is no longer a police state.

Following the attack, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq, who defected to the opposition the week before, had this to say:


 "Today is a day of happiness in every Syrian person's home. Today every mother grieving for her child, every child who has lost his father, every father who has lost his child, breathes a sigh of relief."

On Friday, my roommate Matt and I were discussing the massacre at Century 16 theater over beers and fish and chips. We talked about how he surrendered to police without resistance, then reportedly bragged to them that, "I'm the Joker." And suddenly, I was overcome with a bloodlust that surprised me. "If you were one of the police officers who arrested that guy," I asked poor, unsuspecting Matt, "how would you restrain yourself? How would you keep yourself from breaking his nose? Kicking his teeth in?" Just imagining it made me feel better.

Matt looked at me warily. "I feel more sad than angry," he ventured cautiously. Praise the Lord for that.

So yeah, I'm a huge hypocrite. I understand rejoicing when the wicked are cut down. I understand wanting revenge.

But this mass murder of senior government officials in Syria does not give me a sense of relief. Not at all.

Because if your goal is to replace a lawless tyranny with a just, pluralistic society, then sending young men to explode themselves to kill political leaders is about the worst idea possible. Having realized their most important goals through terror and murder, are Syria's fractured opposition groups going to suddenly start respecting political process once Assad walks?

All the trend lines in the Syrian Civil War are going the wrong way.

Christians have been ethnically cleansed from Homs, Qusayr, and other cities.

Alawite Muslims are being targeted for kidnapping, torture and death.

Palestinians who refuse to support the revolution are experiencing a similar fate.

Assad may go soon. But whether he does or not, there is no peace at the end of this, and no justice.

Please keep the people of Syria in your prayers. سوريا الله حاميها.


  1. Yikes. Maybe I'm just getting older, but for some reason, this shooting has made me think more than any before...

  2. Me too, man, except for maybe Columbine, and I was only 11 then.

  3. It's like a Rule 34 for murder - if it's a public place, there will be a mass shooting there.

  4. Its sad. But you are right it's been the trend. It's hard to know what to feel about the shooting in CO. I remember hearing about columbine and the shooting at Ricori High School, which was a bit closer to home. (I drive by Ricori HS almost weekly now) But I was too young for it to really sink in. I'm filled with more empathy than hatred at the moment.

  5. I'm not feeling hatred at all toward the guy. I just feel bad. And I certainly think people in the US don't need guns any more powerful than hunting rifles.

    Maybe I've just been reading too much from Shane Claiborne lately, who by the way is coming out with a new book in October with Tony Campolo. I already pre-ordered it on Amazon!