Asad Apologists : The Ostrich Syndrome
The debate surrounding Syria has stooped very low among self-identified leftists and anti-imperialists. It is high time the discussion moves away from personal attacks, and focuses instead on presenting specific arguments and developing clearer political positions. No group has been as pilloried by all sides as much as that which has come to be labeled “the third way,” composed of those who are simultaneously opposed to foreign intervention (cheered for by major opposition forces) and the Asad regime. Apologists for the Asad regime, or what have become labeled as “first wayers,” will go to great lengths to discredit third-way politics. This essay serves as a rebuttal of apologist arguments. In doing so, the hope is not merely to expose the fallacies of first-way rhetoric, but to also elaborate what a third way might actually mean or entail. The latter is something that has yet to be fully expounded in terms of its principles and consequences.
In their attempt to distort and discredit third-way politics, most first wayers identify the essence of the Asad regime as anti-imperialist, when in reality it is ultranationalist with an anti-Zionist silver lining—a thick lining one might still argue. Sometimes, they invoke Lenin’s critique of third-way politics, with little accompanying class analysis. However, a more apt analogy would be the non-aligned movement of the Cold War era. Apologists will confuse the lack of political power (i.e., the power of decision-making) with a lack of political position (i.e., a practical political agenda or plan), and draw a caricature of who is a third wayer as a criticism of last resort.