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Chapter 4 “Hama Rules” From Beirut to Jerusalem Thomas L. Friedman Presentation by: Meaghan C. Novi.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 4 “Hama Rules” From Beirut to Jerusalem Thomas L. Friedman Presentation by: Meaghan C. Novi."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 4 “Hama Rules” From Beirut to Jerusalem Thomas L. Friedman Presentation by: Meaghan C. Novi

2 Hama Rules In this chapter, Friedman tries to make sense of the tragic events of the Hama Massacre by exploring the themes of Middle Eastern politics. He finds that there are three main political traditions which monopolize inter and intra state relations. Friedman explains “the first and oldest of these traditions is tribe-like politics… a pre-modern form of political interaction characterized by a harsh, survivalist quality” and devotion to kin groups (87). These groups can be actual tribes, clans or a religious community. All are motivated by an intense form of solidarity. In the Middle East every man realizes that to honor the bonds of kinship above everything else is to survive the nature of their world. Additionally Friedman uses one Bedouin anecdote about a man and his turkey to reveal one of the most important aspects of tribe-like politics: concessions. “What you never do” he writes, “is allow concessions to be arbitrarily imposed on you” (89). In the case of the Hama Massacre, President Assad understood that if the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood was allowed control of even one neighborhood, he could lose Hama within days. And losing Hama would ensure Assad’s fall from his authoritarian throne. “Mr. President, you won the election with a 99.7 percent majority. That means only three-tenths of 1 percent of the people did not vote for you. What more could you ask for?” Assad replie(d), “Their names.” (95) The second political tradition, Friedman discovered, is authoritarianism. For centuries the Middle East has been governed by kings, sheiks and sultans most probably owing to the primordial ties to ethnic rather than national identity. In the modern Middle East two forms of authoritarian rule have survived: “the softer Ottoman approach and the more brutal, un- Islamic…variety” (95). The softer side of authoritarian rule is usually characterized by a highly homogenized society whereas rulers in areas such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, whose populations are increasingly sectarian, have struggled to achieve legitimacy within their countries. Men like Assad and Saddam Hussein “are dangerous and long-lasting because they are extremists who know when to stop” (96). The Hama Massacre was Assad’s way of proving to his people, and to himself, that he could rule with more than an iron fist. Friedman writes “tribalism and authoritarianism together still cannot fully explain Hama or Middle East politics today” (98). The modern nation-state is the lasting revolutionary handprint of the imperial powers. The artificial origins of most Arab nation-states, imposed by the British and French, created yet another layer to the onion that is Middle Eastern politics. “That is why,” Friedman argues, “the Hama massacre has to be seen as the natural reaction of a modernizing politician…trying to stave off retrogressive” (100). Rulers like Assad and Saddam are dangerous because they can play the political game in three dimensions: tribal warrior, authoritarian leader, modern political figure. Whatever mode they choose in which to operate, “it all still comes down to Hama Rules: Rule or die” (104).


4 Hama Massacre



7 Notable Quotes “I guess you killed 7,000 people there,” the businessman said to Rifaat… “What are you talking about, 7,000? No, no. We killed 38,000” (90). “Better one month of Hama than fourteen years of Lebanon” (101). “…it all comes down to Hama Rules: Rule or die. One man triumphs, the others weep. The rest is just commentary” (104).

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