An open letter to Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad
President Bashar al-Assad, I wish to congratulate you on your recent publicity here in the United States. Sure, last week was slower for you because of Miley Cyrus slutting up the airwaves, but you’re back on top! Not a nightly news segment is aired or paper printed that doesn’t feature your latest shenanigans as a headliner. You’re also getting ready to celebrate your birthday, so congratulations on that as well.
That being said, I am starting to worry about your sanity. You’re a totalitarian dictator; I get that. As a government head in the Middle East, I imagine you have a fair amount of pressure, external and internal, to consistently deny those you govern those rights most of the civilized world considers basic. Naturally, you have a reputation to uphold as a vicious tyrant, even more so given recent events and revolutions, namely Iraq and Egypt.
So when the Syrian populace began revolting, you of course had to do something. Heaven forbid you perhaps listen or change things. Now Al-Qaeda is involved, and it’s even worse. We expect you to respond to opposing ideas and majority vote with brutal force, beating your people into the ground with bullets, tanks, bombs, and assassinations.
You’re just another despot trying to enforce order with an iron fist. I respect that, I really do. But I’m beginning to think you’re off your rocker, what with directly opposing the most powerful country in the history of the world.
You can’t have missed that memo: don’t use chemical weapons. By all means, continue to kill thousands with conventional weapons, use rocks for all we care, but don’t bring out the gas. What happened? We understand you’re upset with Al-Qaeda, we aren’t exactly on speaking terms with them either, and you can’t simply listen to the populace. But President, what we’re trying to tell you is killing a thousand people with chemicals is morally worse than killing ten thousand with bullets! Doesn’t that make sense?
We Americans consider ourselves the world’s police force. Yeah, it’s as crappy a job as it’s sounds. Just like you Middle Eastern rulers seem to consider your duty to be as horrible as possible, we have the idea that we as Americans need to keep you in check. That’s why President Obama gave you that “red line.”
Now you’ve gone and crossed that red line, and what do you expect us to do? We really, really don’t want bomb you, and we want to send troops there even less. War is at an all-time low as far as popularity with the masses in concerned. Everyone else seems to agree with the American populace; the only international support Obama can get is from France, not exactly the military superpower he was hoping for. But at the same time, if we don’t bomb you, what message does that send? Now we don’t enforce out rules. Iran will start toeing the line, and heaven only know what North Korea with do. Possibly even worse, if we attack you, that kinda puts us on Al-Qaeda’s side, probably the worst place for us to be.
I know I don’t understand all the nuances and difficulties of international warfare and policy, but this really can’t be the best option for anyone. You’ve put us in a difficult position, President, and I for one don’t appreciate it. I really wish you had been more considerate when deciding how to kill your people.
Joshua Wartena is a senior studying Journalism and Spanish at UVU and will graduate in Fall 2014. He is hoping to work as a middle-east correspondent or long-form magazine writer in South America. Josh is currently living in Orem and is the Opinions Section Editor