On Thursday night’s All Things Considered, NPR brought on professor David Lesch to discuss how many Westerners wrongly thought Bashar Assad would be a reformer. Lesch was one of those who was fooled, and interviewed the younger Assad and wrote a book in 2005 titled The New Lion of Damascus. Naturally, in the entire segment, NPR skipped over how Hillary Clinton and John Kerry belong on that list of mistaken analysts.
“I think, you know, for many of us inside and outside Syria were hoping that Bashar al-Assad would change the authoritarian system. And what I think ended up happening is the authoritarian system changed him,” Lesch said. While he couldn’t discuss Obama’s two secretaries of state, he did talk about rock star Phil Collins:
The first time I met with Bashar in 2004, I mentioned to him that one of the biggest mistakes he made, you know, half jokingly, when he came to power in 2000, is that he let it be known that he liked Phil Collins music, the British rocker. And he asked me why and I said because it fed into this emerging profile in the West at that time that he was this pro-Western modernizing reformer.
At a time when the Left is so unsparing in its mockery of neoconservatives who misjudged Iraq, why is NPR picking experts who misjudged the Syrian dictator? He’s still fumbling to get Syria right:
MELISSA BLOCK: Professor Lesch, I mentioned the title of your first book on Syria, "The New Lion of Damascus." The title of your second book tells a very different story. It's "Syria, the Fall of the House of Assad." Is it clear to you that that is, in fact, what we're looking at here, the inevitable fall of the Assad regime?
DAVID LESCH: I think ultimately, yes. You know, they will never have, in my mind, the power or certainly the legitimacy that they once enjoyed. And that's really what I mean as I describe in the preface by "The Fall of the House of Assad," not necessarily in a literal sense. I think from the very beginning, when I wrote that book, that I knew it would take a long time. And it's proving to even be longer than that for most people's original assessment of the situation.