Lesch & Assad in Damascus

Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes examines another in a long list of Middle East studies specialists whose predictions about the region have been utterly wrong, Trinity University professor David Lesch. Pipes sums up Lesch's fawning 2005 book about "compassionate" Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as "a monument of scholarly humiliation" and quite possibly, "the most embarrassingly wrong book ever on the Middle East." His article appears at the Washington Times.

"The Middle East is the graveyard of predictions" notes the left-wing writer and editor Adam Shatz. That's partly because it's so volatile (no one in 2014 imagined the revival of an executive caliphate after eleven centuries) and it's perverse (Turkey's President Erdoğan started a near-civil war against the Kurds to win constitutional changes he does not need).

In part, too, predictions fail because of the general incompetence of the specialists in the field. Often, they lack the common sense to see what should be self-evident. Case in point: the collective swoon upon the accession of Bashar al-Assad to the presidency of Syria in 2000.

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