Monday, August 6, 2012

Assad's merciless assault risks wiping out both his country's future – and its past

Long View: We may reflect how 'the battle for Syria's history' has been fought many times before

By Robert Fisk

".....But that was then, as they say, and this is now; and when the innocent die in what all the world – save the Syrian government – calls a civil war, history takes a back place, save for its usefulness in the hands of propagandists and mountebanks. And we return again to the old and painful question: how dare we fear for the treasures of history when the youth of Syria is bleeding to death, when children's shrouded corpses are being put into the earth of Aleppo? What do the battlements of Krak des Chevaliers count against the torment of Idlib and Hama and Homs and – for a few days – Damascus?

But Syria's heritage – our heritage, too – does matter. It will be the property of Syria's future inhabitants, whoever wins this deplorable, slovenly, cynical battle today. Its message of cultural renewal and of theological persistence and philosophical persuasion is as relevant now as it was 900 years ago. Whoever "wins" – and civil wars rarely have clear winners – should study those manuscripts to learn about human folly. Including their own."

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