The Washington Post has a great article today about Syria's ruling family http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/27/AR2005102702342.html. After reading the article it feels like Syria is run by the Sopranos or the Corleones. Imagine, a family runs a country, not a strip club or a casino. The Assads don't have powerful senators or judges on their payroll, they actually sign the paychecks of those guys. Its a fascinating story. Let's run with it.
Bashar Assad (the current leader) never was expected to come to power, but because his brother died in a car accident in 1994, he would ascend to the throne after his father died. Bashar was in England studying opthalmology, and living the good life of financially secure young man. Does anybody see a relation with Michael Corleone? Michael was the one son who wanted to go out and be his own man, outside of his father's shadow. So he joined the Army and went and fought for his country. He had a saucy Diane Keaton and was doing just fine until Vito was shot. Then, with the death of a hotheaded older brother, he became the head of the family. So is Bashar Michael Corleone?
I'm not sure. Their respective backgrounds correlate but their personalities don't seem to. Bashar definitely doesn't seem like Sonny, that honor goes to his other brother. The way people in Syria talk, he acts more like Fredo. He is unsure and does not exactly fit the mold of an autocratic leader. They even say "he's weak."
Whats best for our interests? The most dangerous scenario is that Bashar is like Michael: cruel, calculating, and cunning. Equally as dangerous is if Bashar is like Fredo, because if he really is so weak, then he won't have the strength to act against "the family." Therefore leaving his Michael-like brother in law the de facto ruler of Syria. For our interests, it would be best if he's like Sonny, because America knows how to deal with Sonny's, we have a lot of experience with them. Its probably too much to ask that he's like Tom Hagen.