'Ridiculously photogenic Syrian soldier': A weapon of mass seduction

Sex sells -- but can it sell a bloody Middle Eastern revolution pitting disparate armed factions against an entrenched autocrat?

Last year's successful overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi turned Libya's rebels with a cause into international sex symbols. Now Syrian rebels are getting the star treatment, with one particularly dashing combatant starring in his very own internet meme -- "Ridiculously photogenic  Syrian soldier." With his nonchalant stride, close-cropped dark hair, chiseled chin, and steely-eyed intensity, this freedom fighter's sculpted physique gives us some ideas about the guns of the Syrian opposition.  An RPG rests casually on one sculpted shoulder, prompting one caption-er to posit:

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton skipped meeting with the Syrian National Council while visiting Turkey this week, we'd be happy to draw some red lines of our own with this coy comrade. And although observers are bracing for the implications of spillover from the conflict throughout the region, we're ... actually pretty worried about that, too.

Perhaps the beleaguered uprising will finally grab headlines now that its most attractive proponent has been identified. Just one more reason the world should keep an eye on Syria -- in this case, a very close eye indeed.  


Paul Ryan's been through all Bernard Lewis's books


Q: What do you read?

Ryan: I go there. I read. I mean I’m a big Bernard Lewis fan. I’ve read all of Bernard Lewis’ books, and I read a lot of his books on this topic are. I formed the Middle East Caucus in early 2000s. On Ways and Means, which is a trade committee, I was point guy on the MEFTA.  This is an arcane idea.  We used to like doing trade agreements.  And the MEFTA is the Middle East Free Trade Area Initiative, which is to create, we believe – and this was a good idea back in the Bush Administration. Get free trade agreements with these moderate Muslim countries, to integrate our economies. You have to require rule of law, women’s rights, you know, enforceable contracts. Yeah, but it’s been languishing, so I worked on the Moroccan Agreement, the Jordanian Agreement, the Omani Agreement, the Bahraini Agreement. I negotiated all the implementing legislation on that with the Democrats. So I spent a lot of my time over my career, traveling to the Middle East. That’s probably where most of my travels have gone. I was in Afghanistan last December; I’ve been there a few times. I spent a lot of time reading about the military, reading up on foreign policy.

I'm going to assume this means he's read Faith and Power, What Went Wrong?, and the Crisis of Islam rather than all 42 of them.  

Obnoxious nitpicking aside, this interview with Ryan with the Washington Examiner last month also has some interesting ideas about Europe's financial crisis and what he sees as the difference between American and European attitudes on entitlements.