How Assad Projects Power

Permanent members of the Security Council project power via ICBM’s. Smaller nuclear-armed countries project power via medium- or short-range ballistic missiles. Power may also be projected via conventional means, such as bombers, tanks, or warships.

Historically speaking, the navy has been the predominant means by which power is projected. The most powerful nations have always had the most powerful navies of the time. First was the Dutch, then Portuguese and Spanish, and then British. Now it is the Americans.

The problem is, not all aspiring politicians could afford powerful navies. Assad is one of them.

A powerful navy capable of projecting the influence of the Baath Party is simply out of reach for Assad. But he has his own plans.

Assad’s master plan is this: he intends to use terrorists to project power internationally. There is no better candidate to carry out his plan than the Islamic State, which thrives in war.

Assad understands very well that he is not trying to project military power. He is trying to project political power. He intends to do this by causing political disruptions. In this age of mass-media, there is no better disruption than mass terror attacks. Sleeper cells of the Islamic State would be ideal for carrying out such attacks.

Assad will never try to achieve any military objectives overseas. Such grand endeavours are beyond him. What he is trying to do is to influence political events overseas. He can do this quite easily by directing terror attacks which are timed to influence elections, for example.

It is vital that we understand Assad’s plan for the future of the Islamic State. No, he does not want to destroy it. He wants to keep it. He wants to use it as a gun that can shoot anywhere in the world, anytime he wants, without having to fear nuclear retaliation.

This plan suddenly looks not so bad.