As I write in one of my books – Followership – Diehards are as their name implies. They are followers, ordinary people, prepared to die if necessary for their cause, whether an individual, an idea, or both. Diehards are deeply devoted to their leaders; or, in contrast, they are ready to remove them from positions of power, authority, and influence by any means necessary. Diehards are defined by their dedication, including their willingness to risk life and limb. Being a Diehard is all-consuming. It is who you are. It is what you do.
It’s rather an old story by now – which explains why we’re inured to its implications. But of the approximately 12,000 people who died in Syria in the last 15 months, a good number were Diehards, willing to risk it all to try to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a brutal dictator, the son of another brutal dictator, Hafez al-Assad. The Assads, father and son in succession, have ruled Syria for over forty years. So far as Diehards are concerned, that’s long enough. They are so fed up they figure they have nothing to lose.
As the violence in Syria continues, the world dithers. Neither NATO, nor the loose coalition known as the Friends of Syria, nor the United Nations with its misplaced assist from former Secretary General Kofi Annan, has stopped the strife. Why? Because every one of the various leaders is risk averse.
Nothing has made this as blindingly clear as the most recent meeting of NATO in Chicago this week. Nearly every NATO leader has publicly condemned Assad, and called for him to step down. But when they met in Chicago the subject of Syria never even came up. Instead the alliance simply stuck to its previous position, that it has “no intention whatsoever to intervene.” How heartening to hear – how heartening to Assad! And what a contrast between NATO’s leaders and Syria’s Diehard followers! The latter are willing to die for what they believe, while the former are satisfied to let the killing continue while they stand by and do nearly nothing.

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