Foreign Policy Expert Uses The 'Sopranos' To Describe Syria Perfectly

On Sept. 5, a few days before President Barack Obama’s decision to strike Syria
became a diplomatic effort, Michael Doranof The Brookings Institution explained the situation in very simple terms.

Doran, a senior fellow who specialises in Middle East security issues and served as a senior director at the National Security Council, drew on “The Sopranos” to explain the mindset of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

“I do know exactly what Assad is thinking, and I can explain it to you right now … It is not that hard. The hard thing is figuring out what’s actually going on on the ground, who’s doing what to whom, and so on.

Once you know that, it’s very simple — because … They want their friends to win, they want to win, and they want us to lose.

The tools that they have at their disposal to win — their thugs, right — so to use another popular culture reference, all you have to do is watch ‘The Sopranos’, and then you understand how they’re thinking.

Why did they use chemical weapons at Ghouta? For two reasons.”

He subsequently argues that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in the pivotal Damascus suburb of East Ghouta because “… this is the battle for Damascus, is what this is, and they have failed the Syrians, and failed in conventional terms. And so they went to unconventional to just clear.”

As to the reason Assad would do such a thing when U.N. inspectors were in the capital, Doran goes back to the “Sopranos” allusion: Assad “is a thug.”

“He’s sending a very clear message to all the Syrians who might think of one day taking up arms against him: ‘You do that, I’ll wipe you out. I’ll wipe your family out. And don’t you, for a second, think that the United States, the international community, the U.N., or anybody else is going to help you. I’m going to show you how tough I am. Even while these U.N. inspectors are here, I’m going to gas you.’

And that was the message.”

It’s important to note that all of the published evidence about the munitions used in the attack point to the Syrian government, especially since there is no evidence of rebels using these types of rockets and delivery systems.

Doran goes on to explain the U.S. strategy in the 30-month conflict, which has become a proxy war:

“We don’t have to solve Syria. We don’t have to. Our interests are: Protect our friends, build up our friends, punish our enemies, create a framework that allows other people to get on the ground to do stuff, so that we don’t have to do it. That’s international politics.”

The reason the U.S. finds itself on the same side as some rebels fighting for al Qaeda, according to Doran, is incidental to the primary objective:

“The way to figure out who your side is is, who do you want to have the most pain? And that’s Iran. We want to make Iran suffer, and we want to make Assad suffer.

And then we go down the line, and we say, “Who can we wind up to do that, that isn’t going to cause us pain?”

And by the time — when we get down to some of the al Qaeda elements — and not all of them, by the way — then we say, ‘You’re on the other side.’

But there’s a lot of people out there we can work with.”

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