An Argument for the Devil We Don't Know in Syria

More

Robert Satloff makes a convincing case that the departure of Bashar al-Assad would be beneficial not only to the oppressed people of Syria, but to Western policymakers as well:

It is difficult to imagine any conceivable successor to Asad who would pursue more problematic or troublesome policies. Indeed, history shows that post-transition regimes tend to be preoccupied with internal problems and therefore do not pursue aggressive behavior toward their neighbors. The Syrian army under Asad's successor would likewise focus on ensuring domestic security, rather than seeking external ventures for which Syria might pay a heavy price.

He goes on:

The straw man of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood: In a post-Asad world, the ruler of Syria -- "the devil we don't know" -- is likely to be Sunni and, in comparison to Asad, more secular and politically moderate. Whatever his political inclinations, chances are unlikely that a Sunni leader would maintain Asad's close ties with Shiite Iran and Hizballah. Still, even if one assumes, for argument's sake, that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would dominate a new regime, such a government would still likely be less problematic than Asad's. The Brotherhood is a relatively weak movement in Syria -- many of its members have been killed or locked away in Asad's prisons, and the remainder is abroad. Furthermore, Syria has a secular majority, and a Muslim Brotherhood government would be constrained by that reality. Even in a worse-case scenario of a powerful and effective Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus, one should not forget the influence of a strong deterrent, such as Israel has displayed since 2006 toward Hizballah, itself a well-armed, radical Islamist movement.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

From This Author

Just In