The younger Assad has tried to do in Homs what his father did in Hama. In many cases, the tactics - surrounding and besieging the city, using devastating force in civilian areas - are essentially identical.
Yet the world has changed. The communications revolution and increasing interconnectedness make that strategy less and less likely to succeed. Indeed, the presence of international observers on the ground in Syria today, and the bellicose stance of Syria's neighbours, show how difficult it is to apply the model.
Rather, if Assad the younger has time to study history, he would do well to consider two other political dilemmas of the 1980s: one as a model, the other as a warning.