Wholesale massacre in the streets isn’t always possible—or optimal. In those cases, torture is what the Syrian butcher-ophthalmologist Bashar al-Assad has his compliant human instruments use against the rounded-up opposition; thus the detention-center hole down which Syrian writer and opposition-member SamarYazbek was dragged not long ago by a pair of official swine, and thus the Hell she was forced, literally, to witness:
The bodies were nearly naked . . . they were youths of no more than 20 years old. . . . They were suspended from their hands in steel cuffs, and their toes barely touched the floor. Blood streamed down their bodies, fresh blood, dried blood, deep bruises visible like the blows of a random blade. Their faces looked down; they were unconscious, and they swayed to and fro like slaughtered animals.
. . . and so on with cell after cell.
Bodies lay on top of bodies in heaps. This was Hell. As if humans were just pieces of meat, laid out to put on optimal display the arts of murder and torture. Young men transformed into cold pieces of meat in damp, narrow cells.
I asked one of the men, as they tied the blindfold back on me, “Are those the boys from the demonstrations?”
“Those are the traitors from the demonstrations,” one of them answered.
Read the whole horrific thing, but gird your loins: Bashar al-Assad’s thugs may not be as supremely accomplished in the art of torture as the World-War-II-era Japanese; they may not have the monstrous finesse of Josef Mengele; they may not be schooled in the cold, flat cruelty of the North Vietnamese—nor of the Cubans who abetted the Viet Cong—in the excruciation of American POWs at the Hanoi Hilton; nor, for that matter of the Cubans who torment their own innocent imprisoned civilians today; but the Syrian blood-lust is live and hot enough to compensate for any inelegance of execution, though Miss Yazbeck’s testimony will chill your own blood.
The brutal savagery that is the engine of this hideousness has driven tribal enmities in the Fertile Crescent since ancient times. The tragedy for Syria—and the danger for the country’s future—is that it has yet to show any sign of waning.