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Emet m'Tsiyon

Friday, April 01, 2011

Academic Slug Fawns over Junior Assad -- Maybe Because Hitler Isn't around anymore

UPDATING 4-3&5&12&21&24-2011 See at bottom

If you want to measure the slimy creepiness of much of American academia, take a look at David Lesch of Trinity University in Texas. He entitled a fawning biography of Bashar al-Assad, The New Lion of Damascus [Yale U Press 2005]. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone describe you as a lion. I would be flattered. Now if I could only convince my wife. Anyhow, Lesch, who teaches Middle East history, apparently knows enough Arabic to know that the word assad means lion. Isn't that cute? His name means lion so we can be cute and call the swine a lion.

Lesch published a semi-moronic op ed in the NYTimes today in which he strains to tell us that Assad isn't really like that real bad guy, Qaddafi. Actually, Assad is likely much worse which we may see in coming days. But Lesch is full of regret that Assad didn't do what Middle East expert David Lesch thought that he ought to do. Who says there's no humor in the academic world? Lesch does a great parody. Here he describes Junior Assad:
. . . he had begun to equate his well-being with that of his country, and the sycophants around him reinforced the notion.
See, what Junior did wrong was really the fault of the sycophants around him. Lesch is très adroit at identifying sycophants. I guess it takes one to know one. Let's let Lesch let loose his toadying nature:
I believed he had good intentions, if awkwardly expressed at times.
See, Junior Bashar [or Basher?] had "good intentions." Who would doubt it? At least our expert from Trinity U "believed" it. Maybe Hitler probably had "good intentions" too, or at least the David Lesches of that time would have believed it.
This is what passes for political understanding in American academia, in Washington and at the NYTimes.

Martin Kramer wrote that Lesch was "fawning" toward Assad in his book. That's the word for it. A commenter on Kramer's facebook page [where I found the links תודה רבה] went further with that.
Fawning . . . couldn't be more accurate. Lesch states in his preface "I find the story of [Asad's] rise to power as president of Syria a compelling one". Being the son of a dictator does not make for a compelling story about a "rise" to "presidency" no matter how you characterize it. It's nepotism and despotism through and through. One day people will question how these "liberal" writers came to fall in love with dictators. [Ryan Kashfian - kudos to you from Eliyahu]
So we have reached a state where commenters on facebook have more insight and common sense than profs of Middle Eastern history and NYT op ed authors. Bear in mind that when Muslim Brotherhood enemies of Assad Junior's father, Hafiz, were using the city of Hama as a center for terrorism against the Syrian state and against members of Assad's own Alawi sect [1982], Senior Assad had his artillery pound the city for several days. The usual estimates of dead in Hama run from 10,000 to 30,000, with most estimates around 20,000. Yet Lesch fawned over the son as if he were different. More recently, in early 2005, Junior had Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, assassinated by a massive truck bomb in Beirut. Yet Hariri had been an obedient pawn of Senior and Junior Assad for years. When Hariri showed signs of disobedience, he was eliminated. Most Lebanese and most knowledgeable outside observers blamed Junior for the murder. But Lesch doesn't so much as mention Hariri in the NYT op ed, let alone how he departed this Vale of Tears. Since Lesch's biog of Junior was published in 2005, the same year as the assassination, I wonder if it was maybe mentioned in the book. On the other hand, Lesch does mention Lebanon in the op ed but in such a way as to make Junior Assad seem like an anti-imperialist while acting as an imperialist himself:
Contrary to American interests, he [Assad] firmly believes Lebanon should be within Syria’s sphere of influence.
Can you contain your admiration for Junior's defiance of America and his overflowing Syrian patriotism? So much for Junior Assad whom we will be hearing a lot more about in coming days I trust. Now, let's think about his chic and elegant wife, Asma. She used to be a banker at J P Morgan, Lesch tells us. And, he unfortunately fails to mention, Asma was the recent subject of a flattering photo feature in the ultra-fashionable Vogue [search for it on google. I didn't save the link]. With an ophthalmologist husband and her own pre-marriage career as a banker, Asma is about as good a safe, decent, trustworthy, civilized bourgeoise matron as you could want.
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Jeff Jacoby about Junior Assad & his admirer, Barack Obama.
British & American academic pimps working for Mu`ammar Qaddafi [here]. A useful listing of Harvard and LSE denizens working to polish the image of the author of The Green Book Qaddafi's attempt to imitate Mao Tse Tung.
4-9-2011 William Harris describes the situation in Syria [here]. But the Syrian problem is not only in Syria. Harris tells us, that ". . . Western governments . . . have always had a soft spot for the Syrian dictatorship . . . identifying Bashar as a 'reformer.'"

Lesch's testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [2007]. Here are some gems:
"Bashar has a progressive and modernizing outlook" --
"I have seen him grown into the position with more confidence and more of a comfort level since I've been meeting with him.
"He has been on the upswing politically, domestically and even regionally, since surviving the intense pressure of the . . . investigation into the Hariri assassination, in part by default, because of mounting U.S. problems in the region and also partly due to his own maneuvering. I think the makeup of the February 2006 cabinet reshuffling in Damascus was a clear reflection of this upswing.
Lesch told the Senate Committee that his hero was on "the upswing."
More gems from David Louche [Lesch?].

Now, about Lesch himself. Could he be related somehow to Ann Mosely Lesch, also a sort of Middle East expert who worked or "served" for some time as an American Friends Service Committee field rep in the Land of Israel in the mid-1970s?
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4-11-2011 Ramesh Thakur tries to explain why universities go for corrupting cash from Arab dictators and other unsavory types. He is too soft on the univs. They have been corrupt for decades.
4-12-2011 Harvard profs pimp for Qaddafi [here]. Martin Kramer comments on the same issue. A live interview with a Harvard prof critical of pimping for Libya in Harvard's name.
4-14-2011 Tony Badran's take on the babboonish Syria watchers, like Lesch [here]
4-2-2011 Fiamma Nirenstein rightly complains that Washington pretends that Syria is democratic [qui in Italiano].
5-24-2011 Martin Kramer reports on another thrust of brilliant wit, another priceless bon mot from the silver tongue of David Lesch, Professorus Most Respectibus [hic], doctor honestissimus et decensissimus. Certe, this good, simple and decent man tells of his bonding with Junior Assad --known in these parts as Bashar the Basher-- as a fellow father concerned with his kiddies. Junior told honestissimus that he sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" with his bright and beaming children. Martin Kramer, awestruck at all this Damascene decency, as I am too, I confess, commented: "Ah a good man at heart." Dearest darling, bring me another hankie, please.

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