My dear American brothers and sisters–
I stand before you a misunderstood, maligned, and deeply humbled man, seeking shelter from a storm of my own creation. While your American media and politicians have surely familiarized you with my name, and my crimes — I feel their depiction has left you with an utter misrepresentation. If you’ll be so kind as to allow it, I hope to present an earnest rebuttal. I’m not a monster — I’m a man. I’m the leader of a nation.
I won’t be using this opportunity to expound upon the intricacies of political and religious life in Syria, how they relate to our current civil war, and how you, as an American citizen, might not grasp with totality all that is at stake. Similarly, I refuse to divert attention to well-documented assertions by many, including a 4-star American General, that explain that proposals for Western intervention in Syria have been planned for at least 10 years as a means of asserting hegemonic control in the region. Finally, though you might expect me to put forth an evasive, deceitful exposition, extricating me from any responsibility for the carnage and brutality you’ve increasingly heard or witnessed coming out of the Syria — I shall do no such thing. I’m a dictator. I have blood on my hands. Plainly, they’re covered. And while my hands drip with the blood of innocent Syrians, I stand before you today confident that I’ll be able to correct the hurtful, slanderous, woefully inaccurate assertion that I’m anything other than just another leader of a nation.
Earlier, I alluded to my needing to seek shelter from “a storm of my own creation.” It’s from this opulent underground shelter which I presently write. The “storm” I reference was born directly from my unyielding refusal to modernize. I’ll explain.
I’m the President of Syria. I’m the leader of the Syrian people — just as President Obama is your leader. Like President Obama, I’m in the business of ensuring that the people residing within the confines of my demarcated landmass are subordinate to the law. Like President Obama, and other leaders of Western nations, I’m wont to skirting the law if it interferes with my political agenda. Unlike President Obama, and the leaders of other Western nations, I’m not always able to “get away with it.” I was very much aware of this inarguable, historically-documented fact before I made the conscious decision to raise military force against the people of my nation. Like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi before me, my fate is sealed — as it is for all world leaders who choose to rely on unmasked force as opposed to an iron fist in a blood-soaked velvet glove.
Candidly, I’ve always held your nation in the highest regard. If I may speak for my fellow world leaders, we all do. Personally, I’ve looked upon America how a young child might admire an older sibling — a “big brother” if you will. I can’t help but see beyond its glaring faults. While I respect all aspects of the American leviathan, I hold its foreign policy, with particular regard to public relations, close to my heart with unrivaled adoration. I’ve no doubt confused you, as America seems determined to expend the full force of its military against me in an effort to topple my regime. I, a dictator engulfed in a bloody civil war, respect the American executive and American foreign policy just like a lowly artist would regard a master artist like Michelangelo.
To make my point, allow me to present a cursory comparison. The American public relations machine has thoroughly informed the world of the misery unfolding in my country. While less than half the population of your country can locate Syria on a map, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that I’m responsible for fatally gassing over 1,400 Syrian civilians, including over 400 children. The American foreign policy proposal which, while temporarily averted, is surely forthcoming is said to involve the lobbing of cruise missiles into densely populated cities in my country. Though the man in me cowers in my sprawling fortress, the dictator in me slowly claps with palpable approval.
The nation that has bombed, and killed civilians in, 8 countries in the last 25 years has convinced the free world it has the moral authority to bomb Syria — in order to SAVE civilians. The nation that starved 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqi children under 5 years old TO DEATH asserts that it possesses the moral authority to intervene in a civil war with a death toll of roughly 40,000 civilians. The nation that exposed millions to radioactive depleted uranium munitions, used white phosphorus in Iraq, Agent Orange in Vietnam, and aided a since deposed Iraqi regime in gassing Iran now asserts the moral authority to condemn the use of a chemical agent in Syria. The nation which is currently drone bombing numerous countries in numerous continents, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians, including hundreds of innocent children, now asserts the moral authority to intervene in Syria on the grounds of “humanitarianism.” I stand transfixed, mouth agape, as though before Michelangelo’s David.
After fully realizing the hypocrisy inherent in American foreign policy, an honest man might “laugh to keep from crying.” A dictator like myself greets it with the widest of arms. It’s oppression..brutality..control — fully realized. While it will surely be the end of me, it will also prove to be my salvation. As the generations to come carefully scrutinize my record, my temporarily tarnished name will be restored to its rightful place in the pantheon of great leaders. And so you see, the truth is manifest. I can’t be a “monster” while the American President is a respected world leader. While he is my master, and I his apprentice…we are both artists. It is you, my dear American friends, who allow us to paint our canvas.
Letter Not Actually Penned by Bashar al-Assad