The Precise Moment Syria’s Civil War Could Have Been Stopped Before It Started

Dispatches from the front.
June 10 2014 12:25 PM

How to Turn a Small Protest Into a Civil War

The moment Assad’s Syria changed forever. 

140610_OVER_AssadSyria

Last year, Brooklyn Brewery launched an interview series at its brewhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in conjunction with RISC, a nonprofit that offers instruction on life-saving skills for freelance war journalists. The conversations were an instant hit.

For its second season, Slate partnered with the brewery to film the series. Each month we’ll release our favorite excerpts from the conversations. In this first installment, Steve Hindy, founder of Brooklyn Brewery and a former Associated Press foreign correspondent, sits down with Deborah Amos, NPR's Middle East correspondent and the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis. See earlier segments on watching Richard III with Bashar al-Assad, the fallen culture of Iraq, and what it’s like to stand 50 yards from an exploding car bomb.

“He could have stopped it in its infancy.”

Advertisement

Deborah Amos details the Syrian civil war’s first days, explaining how small protests in the farming town of Daraa—and the Assad regime’s unnecessarily violent response to them—would become the spark that lit the flame of war. Amos also talks about the difficulty in covering the early stages of the revolt—first because of the unexpected, organic nature of the Daraa protests, then as a result of Assad’s crackdown on foreign correspondents operating within the country.

Above, Amos reflects on the shock felt by most journalists when, upon reentering Syria in 2012, they discovered how much more radical the rebels had become. She speaks of the divide between global perception and reality on the ground, and how it was nearly impossible to cover some aspects of the conflict, like the growing influence of jihadist factions, without actually being there, in Syria, seeing it firsthand.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate Video blogger.

Ayana Morali is the executive producer of Slate Video.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?