Syrian President Bashar Assad trooped over to Damascus University, where I believe it is possible to major in “Oppression,” to give a little pep talk to his embattled nation. Since he’s the one Syrians are embattled with, this took a little moxie. Fortunately, psychotic dictators have lots of moxie.
According to Haaretz, Assad called on the growing Syrian rebellion to chill out and return home, where their safety was guaranteed. As he reminded them, “the army is meant to protect the citizens.” I can’t imagine how there could be any confusion on that point.
The big headline moment from the speech was when Assad said the past few months of unrest, in which his regime has murdered over 1,400 unarmed protesters, was the work of “saboteurs.” The children imprisoned and tortured by the regime are little bitty saboteurs, I guess.
Assad stressed the importance of distinguishing between those with legitimate grievances, and these diabolical “saboteurs.” Every tyranny, from the softest Western socialist basket case to the most brutal dictatorships, reserves the right to decide what constitutes “legitimate” criticism from the populace. If you restrict yourself to officially sanctioned legitimate criticism, such as “Bashar Assad just doesn’t have enough power,” you’re a fully vested “citizen” who enjoys the protection of the army. Otherwise, you’re a saboteur who probably collects his paycheck in shequels.
It’s regrettable that the process of cleansing Syria of such saboteurs involves a bit of collateral damage, and even collateral torture, but being a dictator is hard. That’s why so few people are qualified to do it. In Syria, all of them happen to be named “Assad.”
What’s amazing is how willingly the global elite plays along with this poisonous nonsense. The Associated Press reports that British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Turkey to help “bring every possible pressure to bear on the Assad regime with a very clear message that they are losing legitimacy and that Assad should reform or step aside.” So Hillary Clinton could still be vindicated, and Assad could still emerge as one of the great “reformers” of the Middle East, provided he ramps down on the wanton slaughter a bit. Hague makes it clear that 1,400 murders and some child torture is absolutely not sufficient to strip a dictator of his “legitimacy.”
The Syrian regime has been taking Western diplomats on little guided tours of the towns it has destroyed, to help them understand the difficulty of rooting out “saboteurs.” Assad understands the degenerate culture of the United Nations enough to know they’re just looking for excuses to welcome him back into the fold. By giving a televised address to rally his still-loyal subjects, he’s trying to manufacture enough “legitimacy” to get the world off his back while he finishes beating the democratic impulses out of Syria. It will probably work, unless the rebellion forces him to kill enough of them to furrow William Hague’s brow again.
One of the “reforms” Assad has been teasing lately is permitting opposition parties to form. No one who presides over a system in which opposition parties are illegal is a “reformer.” That’s true even before he turns the army loose on dissidents. The regime rooftop snipers make the truth obvious enough to cause U.N. functionaries to adjust their ties and look uncomfortable.