Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Assad’s Foolish Boast

Bashar Assad has long had a reputation for not being the smartest strongman in the Middle East; in fact he would never have become Syria’s president if his older brother Bassel, who was being groomed to succeed their father Hafez, hadn’t died in a car accident in 1994. It is a safe bet that his ruthless father would not have allowed protests against him to spin out of control, as Bashar has done. One reckons that old man Assad also would have been bright enough to avoid doing what Bashar just did—which is to say, bragging in a television interview that Russia has delivered the advanced S-300 air-defense system to him.

The time to brag about the S-300 is once it goes operational; bragging about it before it’s actually online is simply an invitation to Israel to launch a preemptive strike, something that will almost surely happen whenever Israeli intelligence assesses that there is a good opportunity and pressing need to do so. As it happens, Israeli government sources are suggesting that Russia has only delivered some components and that the entire system is far from being ready to use. No doubt Assad hopes to rally Syrian and Lebanese supporters by building up an image of strength. But what he is doing is like waving a red cape at a bull—and if Israel takes out his vaunted S-300 system, as it should, it will undermine rather than enhance his aura of authority.

But even if Assad’s boasts are premature and ill-advised, they do highlight the deeply malicious, indeed repugnant, role that Russia continues to play in Syria where it has emerged as the No. 2 foreign backer—behind Iran—of a regime that has slaughtered its own people en masse, including through the use of chemical weapons. This brutally exposes just how farcical the Obama foreign policy team is if it thinks that Vladimir Putin is going to cooperate in any way in ending the Syrian civil war. Why would Putin want to lose such a good customer for Russian arms?



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.