The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewEric Margolis Archive
Doctor Death from Damascus?
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Butcher of Damascus. Gasser of children. Baby Killer of Syria. Tool of Moscow. Cruel despot. Monster.

These are all names the western media and politicians routinely heap on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. He has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.

As a veteran Mideast watcher, I find all this hard to swallow. Compared to other brutal Mideast leaders, Assad is pretty weak tea. The US/British propaganda effort to paint Assad in blackest colors is having a difficult time.

Mideast leaders who toe the US line and make nice to Israel are invariably called ‘statesmen’ or ‘president’ by the American government and its increasingly tame media. There’s good old President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, the military dictator who crushed that nation’s only democracy and imposed an iron-fisted rule. But we will never hear from the US media of Egypt’s political murders, disappearances, secret prisons and torture. Or that Egypt has been one of the world’s most draconian police states since the era of Anwar Sadat and successor Hosni Mubarak.

Saudi rulers are reverently treated by the US media and government in spite of leading the world in executions. Last year, 44 people were publicly beheaded. In some years, around 150 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, often a quarter of them Pakistani guest workers. Having been arrested by the Saudi religious police, I can tell you that the kingdom is a police state with sand dunes and camels. Saudi vassal states Bahrain and the Emirates are better, but not much.

Morocco, a key US ally, is notorious for its ghastly prisons and brutal torture. Iraq and Afghanistan, now under US control, are even worse. Israel, the largest recipient of US aid, holds close to 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 400 children, and is gunning down Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border.

Syria has always been a repressive police state. I recall watching ‘spies’ being hanged in front of my hotel. Its various police forces are notorious for brutality and torture. In fact, until recently, the US actually sent captive suspects to Syria to be tortured and jailed.

That was before Washington made the decision to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government (‘regime’ in DC talk) as the first step in attacking Iran.

But Damascus was no worse a human rights abuser than Cairo, Amman, Rabat and Riyadh, all US vassals.

While looking at the current western hate campaigns against Syria and Iran, keep in mind the history of the modern Mideast. We are again seeing the 1914 era lies from London about Belgian babies speared on German bayonets.


Any Arab or Iranian leader who sought an independent policy or refused the tutelage of London and then Washington was delegitimized, excoriated, and demonized. Remember the Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh overthrown in a CIA coup? The renowned Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom the British branded ‘Hitler on the Nile?’ Or the late, murdered Libyan Muammar Khadaffi, called ‘Mad Dog of the Mideast’ by President Ronald Reagan? Imam Khomeini of Iran and President Ahmadinejad, both favored targets of western media invective, and both compared to the much overused Hitler. Saddam Hussein, the ‘Butcher of Baghdad,’ and that modern Dr Fu Manchu, Osama bin Laden, the all-time favorite Muslim arch villain.

Of course, there’s nothing new in this nasty name-calling. During the Victorian Era, Britain’s press demonized arch villains like ‘the Mad Mullah,’ the Mahdi, the Fakir of Ipi, and Nana Sahib of the 1857 Indian uprising against British imperial rule.

Bashar al-Assad was a mild-mannered ophthalmologist living in London with his British-born wife. When his rash elder brother Basil was killed in a car crash, Bashar was compelled to return to Syria and become the nominal political leader after the death of his very tough, ruthless father, Hafez al-Assad. Bashar’s main role was mediating between powerful factions in Damascus and trying to modernize his nation.

In 2011, the US, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia ignited an uprising in Syria using often fanatical jihadists. The shy, retiring Bashar was forced to become war leader in a bloody civil conflict as his nation disintegrated.

President Trump, whose B-52 bombers are ravaging the Mideast, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen calls al-Assad a ‘monster.’ Some of his relatives are indeed ruthless. But very many Syrians think of Assad as their nation’s only hope of returning to normalcy.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, Syria 
Hide 17 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. LondonBob says:

    Nothing fake about the German atrocities against Belgian civilians, see Dinant. Anyway Britain was allied with the Tsar so the media gatekeepers kept up a steady drumbeat of pro German propaganda so that Anglo-Saxon America could not aid her sister country sooner.

  2. Thank you very much, sir, for a sober assessment.

    The son is now learning the hard way why the father was swift and ruthless in his reactions.

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  3. Renoman says:

    It takes a firm hand to rule those mid East Countries, a lot of real crazy fanatics living there. The message here is “be careful what you wish for”. just look at the trail of destruction the US hath rot. Syria was a SECULAR relatively modern civilized state before the West brought democracy, what a mess they made.

    • Replies: @Isabella
    , @Moi
  4. @LondonBob

    There never have been any fake German atrocities.

    As for fake stories about German atrocities, now that’s another matter altogether.

    • Replies: @byrresheim
  5. @byrresheim

    Horrible things did happen.
    Horrible lies were told.
    Sick German stupidity had a field day as aggression then, as autoaggression now.

    There is however strictly no reason for British smugness.

  6. Anonymous [AKA "Johnymac"] says: • Website

    As the Alliances missiles and bombs dropped on Syria, I speculated that the Russian Trolls would come out to discredit the act.

    Always…Always, verify what you read to be 100% accurate before you pass it along.

  7. Isabella says:

    After seeing film of the Syria of Assad jnr, and seeing it now, and listening to the voices of people suffering in the refugee hovels, I can add – Syria WAS a modern civilised state. The people were also, by and large, happy.
    Now, after America, it’s a moonscape of utter destruction, and the people are desperately, terribly miserable.
    And you, America, are going to have to live with this, as you should.
    I was watching and listening to a home video [iPhone} of the Syrian defences shooting down the American missiles. As well as the pleasure I got from their success, was the interest in hearing the cameraman’s quietly muttered comments “Yes, go, get damn American. Get damn American. Good, good”
    I dont think any of you are going to be welcome there for the next 100 yrs or more.

  8. El Dato says:

    Nothing fake about the German atrocities against Belgian civilians, see Dinant.

    On the contrary. While there were German atrocities (don’t see Dinant, see German Atrocities, 1914 — A History of Denial), quite a bit of it was fake, some staged in Paris for best effect.

    so that Anglo-Saxon America could not aid her sister country sooner

    This was not “Anglo-Saxon” (more like Anglo-Protestant, amirite?) America’s war to wage, indeed it was not even Great Britain’s war to wage. Anyway the “sister country” lost its Empire (as well its population) while “Anglo-Saxon” America gained its, so a transfer between those “sisters” was a good, old, fat win-lose situation.

    • Replies: @byrresheim
  9. @LondonBob

    Does Belgium exist for any reason other than to trigger British entry into Continental wars?

    Does Great Britain exist for any reason other than to import governing majorities of Pakistani Muslims and generate dossiers on American Presidential candidates?

    Great job drawing up the modern Middle East, by the way.

    Next time you decide to enter a war to keep Germany from becoming the top industrial power on the Continent I think we’ll sit that one out.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @byrresheim
  10. @El Dato

    There is no reason for British smugness, indeed, not after losing their war and their empire.

  11. @The Anti-Gnostic

    They were going downhill from the 1880ies onwards.
    They made a brillant job of dragging everybody with them, though.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  12. LondonBob says:

    There was me thinking it was the Germans who brought everybody down. Shame on America not being involved from the get go in slapping down German warmongering, imagine the Kaiser defeated by 1916, Hitler by ’42. Real Americans in the south and WASP strongholds were eager to get stuck in.

    • Replies: @byrresheim
  13. Anonymous [AKA "eddie3rar"] says:

    The 50 anniversary of the My Lai Massacre came and went with no fanfare, at least it wasn’t repackaged as the work of Putin or Assad. 50 years ago in South Vietnam, 504 civilians were murdered by a U.S infantry company, of the multitude of murderers, only two were charged, only one convicted and all he served was 3.5 years of home detention. 50 years ago is when the U.S. lecturing the world on what constitutes a war crime should’ve ended forever.

    • Agree: byrresheim
  14. Anonymous [AKA "HCH"] says:

    While I do agree with about everything you have written…and not just this time , I do take issue with including Morocco with the sordid-set (whatever their “creeds”) of the gulf-region. The remark re prisons & torture was more than true during the reign of king HassanII (d.1999), most of which was called (locally) “The years of Lead”, but progress in the country has been extraordinary (in all senses) during the reign of his son, Mohammed VI. On a couple of recent occassions, this king decidely distanced himself from gulf-antics, eg, his “boycott” of the Trump “Love-in” in S A, & his active support (along with Turkey & Iran: the real powers “out that way”, like it or not) of Qatar during the farcical Saudi-orchestrated blockade.

    Further, if you want to find “bad guys” in the Maghreb, try the near-dictatorship in Algeria, & its vast army of military police (which I had the pleasure of observing during the so-called “Arab spring”), also, their (to put it mildly) heavy-handed dealings with captives as part of their (doomed) support of Polisario in the sahara.

    Keep up the good work, HCH (who has spent an elapsed ca. 15 years in Morocco)

  15. Moi says:

    Ya sayin’ Syria is more violent than us?

  16. @LondonBob

    Whatever. Pointing one finger at alleged German warmongering makes you point three fingers at yourself, and rightly so.

    If the US would have fallen for your propaganda earlier, the result would have been just the same: UK sans India, sooner or later. The loss of India still leaves you in a position as Europe’s highly dangerous spoilsports, but a lot less dangerous than before.

    On est content de si peu, you know.

    Concerning “real Americans in the south”, in a sense you are right: you should probably not have betrayed the south in the war between the states, but that’s neither here nor there.

    As far as H. M. The Kaiser is concerned: he spent the last four weeks before the shooting began begging his two cousins to stop the murderous nonsense. But that doesn’t fit into your smug little picture, so you will ignore it in all eternity.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Eric Margolis Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
“America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in...
Bin Laden is dead, but his strategy still bleeds the United States.
Egyptians revolted against American rule as well as Mubarak’s.
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.
Far from being a model for a “liberated” Iraq, Afghanistan shows how the U.S. can get bogged down Soviet-style.