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Murder & mayhem, but who cares?

J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Monday, October 24, 2005

It will have no lasting impact.

Murder: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harir was assassinated.

Mayhem: Who did it?

The UN report and rough copy implicate President Bashar assad’s brother and brother-in-law. But which report to believe – report or rough copy?

US President George W. Bush presses a UN investigation. How long will it take? What can it prove? What difference will it make to grassroots Syrians?

Syria lives under a dictator who says he wants to modernize his nation but still hold onto an autocracy. So how does one live between the cracks?

Fact: 5.3 million of the country's 18 million people live in poverty. Unemployment is estimated to be at least 20 percent, according to aP.

In other words, Syrians are used to wander through life by accepting a despot in control. Why change? How change?

The intelligentsia dialogues regarding politics, Western pressures, hope for change, and so forth. But the majority of Syrians are not a part of their nation’s think tank.

The Western and European media thrive on the intrigue. The Syrians in the alleyway streets hardly care or don’t know to care or simply know but don’t care. So what? another killing. It’s over. and there will be more killings. and they too will be over and out.

In the meantime, the Western newsfeeds shoot up their adrenaline charts. Talk shows give all dimensions of the Syria-versus-The-Rest-of-the-World. Commentators write up the latest find in the UN report. Charlie Rose gives the whole scene major play in this week’s telecast.

But in the heart of Syria, who will finally care to do anything about changing anything? No one.

President Baskar assad will continue to sit upon his throne. Legalistic Islamic powers will rule. and the persons in the alleyway streets will barter for another loaf of bread or beads.

The UN has extended the deadline as December 15 for firming things up on all this. That means that earthquakes and hurricanes and Harriet Miers and a thousand more "breaking news" stories can take up our news addictions so that Syria will crawl out from under all this muddle unscathed.

Mr. Bush will move on to another crisis. The UN Security Council will talk and talk and talk some more, Russia and China siding off in one corner and, in this strange alliance, France and america siding off in another corner.

But for how long? Who knows? ask any Syrian who cares?

Yet for this weekend, it makes news – at least in the U.S. But in Syria, one reporter described the report and rough copy as being telecast in a public setting where one Syrian gave his pro-President opinion while the rest of the persons in the room did not even bother to take in the news item.

and so the lethargy will go on for a long, long time.

Did assad know anything about the killing plot? Were his brother and brother-in-law in fact involved? Will the Syrian dictatorship collapse, crumble? What would take its place if it folded? Will the Syrian populace rise up to scream in the streets?


Whatever the UN says, whatever Mr. Bush alleges, whatever the Western newsfeeds implicate, the Syrians in the alleyway streets will be most comfortable being pledged to their paternalistic Islamic dictatorship that plans for their future without consulting them on anything important.

Copyright � 2005 by J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod