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Syria’s Agony

MADRID – The English author and priest William Ralph Inge once said that “A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he cannot sit on it.” Syria’s Assad dynasty, however, seems to believe that it can defy that dictum.

Historically, few autocrats have understood that change produced peacefully by government is the most viable conservative solution to popular demands, and the best way to avoid violent revolution. This is the wisdom that Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh all failed to learn. It is the central lesson of the Arab Spring, and one that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has bloodily ignored.