06/29/2012 11:59 EDT | Updated 08/29/2012 05:12 EDT

It's Their Revolution, They'll Cry If They Want To


If there was any doubt before, there is none now: No one, no country, is coming to the aid of Syrian rebels fighting to rescue themselves from the harsh dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

Western sanctions, UN pleas, negotiations by Kofi Annan, pledges by Assad himself, pressure from neighbours, even muted disapproval by Russia have no effect.

A Libyan-type air-strike involvement by NATO powers was never in the works -- Syrian air power is too formidable, and Syrians fight back. Libyan forces were ducks in a barrel for our aircraft.

So the killing goes on -- tanks are now being used against the people, and Assad himself has declared it is war. Perhaps he is even wishing that he'd never given up ophthalmology in London to become dictator of Syria like his dad.

Pragmatically, there is no need for outside intervention.

Yes, a lot of people are being killed, but perhaps even more would be killed if outside force was used to depose Assad.

What started some 16 months ago as peaceful protests has expanded to civil war. Despite ruthless repression and unjustified shelling and killings, the protests have evolved into rebellion. Soldiers are defecting to the so-called Free Syrian Army, and clandestine help is coming from Arab countries, without the involvement of Western countries -- which seem to be the only ones who fret about mass killings.

A revolution is a personal thing for those involved. When outsiders participate, the dynamics change. And revolutions never turn out the way those who lead them expect, or even intend.

When they do go wrong, outsiders are blamed, especially if the "outsiders" are Americans trying to help for misguided humanitarian reasons.

A significant lesson for the world, if it had been paying attention, was the independence struggle waged by Eritrea for 30 years against Ethiopian dominance. Eritrea won that war with no help from any country -- shunned by Western powers, opposed by the Soviet Union which threw its military support to the Marxist Mengistu regime in Ethiopia which once was an American client.

Eritrea basically depended on weapons captured from the enemy. In that war, I personally saw Soviet tanks captured by Eritrean fighters, turned around and used against the Ethiopians. Eritrea has since deteriorated -- but its successful war of independence against Ethiopia should be studied by military people and especially by bellicose politicians.

One could also say Mao's revolution in China was also achieved with limited outside help, apart from Stalin's futile efforts to make Mao into something of a puppet.

As for Syria, fighting is now reported on the outskirts of Damascus. Regardless of the posturing and empty warnings of Western observers, the defeat of Assad now seems more than likely, but inevitable.

Even Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's denial that he or President Vladimir Putin have urged Assad to give up power, has a hollow ring. When heads of state deny they are doing something, it often indicates that they have already done it.

Russia knows full well that Assad is a tyrant (it takes one to know one?) and it's time he gave way to change. Russia is more concerned about Iran than Syria, which has been Iran's useful ally as a conduit to aid Hamas and Hezbollah.

But that will be another issue, once Bashar Assad is history -- be it in retirement somewhere, or hanged from a lamppost.