The Future Is in Underwear

When there is no hard intelligence, there is no choice but to wrack one's brains and offer assessments and analyses. And that, without a doubt, is a difficult task for a confused, clueless government.

Does Syria want peace with Israel? Is it merely pretending? What is really going on in Bashar Assad's brain, and how can we examine his heart and soul?

It seems the intelligence community has no more than a shred of knowledge about what Assad means when he says yes. With confusion and emptiness darkening our lives, many among us are still tempted to believe that, "We, the ordinary citizens, are confused, but those at the top surely know what is happening." But those at the top also have no clue. And when there is no hard intelligence, there is no choice but to wrack one's brains and offer assessments and analyses. And that, without a doubt, is a difficult task for a confused, clueless government.

This week, however, I obtained sensitive intelligence material, and I am wondering whether to publish it here or to send it in a sealed envelope to Military Intelligence's research division. Yet if I send it, it seems doubtful that it will reach the right person, and even if it does, it seems doubtful that he will bother to read it.

Admittedly, this intelligence is available to anyone, but that does not reduce its value. After all, it is well-known that these days, most of the information piled up on the desks of the secret services comes from sources readily available to all.

Moreover, in their eagerness to acquire secret information, secret service employees do not always notice what there is in the open for all to see. Is it not, therefore, the duty of every ordinary citizen to serve, when the opportunity arises, as the eyes of the state?

This is what I discovered, purely by accident: In the most recent edition of Time magazine, there is a short article of a seemingly touristy character. But a careful reading reveals hidden depths, and shows Syria in an entirely new light - almost naked. Reporter Lydia Wilson reveals the secrets of the Syrian bedroom as if they were Victoria's Secret.

It turns out that Syria today is one of the world's leading manufacturers of men's and women's underwear. And not just any underwear, but extremely sexy lingerie, the kind even Playboy's naked bunnies would covet. Soon, Time reports, a new book by two local writers will appear - "The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie" - and it derives its inspiration from the Hamadiya market in Damascus, which proudly displays a variety of bras and underpants.

From throughout the Arab world and beyond, men and women flock to buy these silk and satin treasures at rock-bottom prices, to wear during their 1,001 nights.

Were MI and the Mossad aware of everything reported here? And would they, by themselves, understand the importance of this article?

In complete contrast to Syria's image in the world, here, it is suddenly revealed as a country that is developing a narrative of its own. This is not that well-known country so closed that it might as well be locked into a chastity belt of fanaticism. This is not that same old dull-as-a-dishcloth country; from dishcloths, one does not make pleasure goods.

Admittedly, bras in eye-catching colors and exciting designs are not a sufficient condition for openness, but they are a necessary condition, and this condition, as we see, exists. Civilizations that bask in the life of the moment are less inclined to Amazonian adventures, which could catch them with their pants down and their corsets loosened.

And if we thought that Syria was inhabited solely by men and women with khaki underwear and whalebone corsets, this was an optical illusion. They have life there in Damascus, and they love their lives, and will not readily give them up. And if their president goes mad and decides to destroy their lives, they will view this as a mortal, below-the-belt blow.

Eugene Ionesco, in a short theater of the absurd play, proposes the possibility that "The Future is in Eggs." I want to expand the tent a bit: In my estimation, the future is in underwear.