Bashar Assad and Anthony Weiner*

Say what you will about the moral lapses of American political leaders, but none (I think) tortures children to death.

Syrian children holding up pictures of Hamza al-Khatib (JamalSaidi/Reuters)

A few years ago my humanist group hosted a covey of “peace activists” who had visited Syria and had a make-nice sit-down with President Bashar Assad. They thought him a pretty decent fellow. I was nauseated. I wonder what they think now.

You can see a video concerning the torture death of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khatib here – if you have a strong stomach.

It’s said Assad has now lost all legitimacy. When did he ever have any?

There are two kinds of governments. Legitimate ones are grounded in democratic consent. The others are gangster fiefdoms ruled the same way Al Capone ruled Chicago’s underworld – by shooting inconvenient people. Some, like Russia and China, may be borderline cases which enjoy a sort-of consent and don’t have to kill excessively. Bashar Assad evidently has to kill thousands, including children, deliberately, and to do it with vicious cruelty. (His daddy Hafez killed ten or twenty thou in one city in 1982.)

Bashar Assad, vicious child murderer

We must never confuse a nation’s sovereignty with that of a gang that rules by force and terror. Such regimes merit no deference from other nations. They are outlaws with no rights under international law.

Yet again we see in Syria the breathtaking courage of ordinary people. People who are not deterred from going into the streets to protest, knowing full well how many like them have already been remorselessly shot down. Freedom is so appealing an idea that people are willing to lay their lives on the line for it. Who knew? (Well, a large segment of the American intelligentsia seems not to have known.)

Yet again we see the Obama administration disgracefully weak. OK, maybe our hands are full doing Libya. But even the rhetoric is limp. Obama hasn’t even actually said Assad must go. What are we afraid of? “Instability?” Are you kidding me?

It should be the explicit policy of the United States that illegitimate gangster regimes have no place in today’s world. Especially ones that torture children.

* I expect many hits on this blog by people googling this combo of names

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7 Responses to “Bashar Assad and Anthony Weiner*”

  1. Richard Says:

    The boy was castrated. What sick fuck castrates a 13 year old boy?

    [FSR: Yes. He was also KILLED. That’s even worse.]

  2. Lee Says:

    As you said in a response a few articles ago, we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The paramount goal is democracy and other human rights in Syria; if Obama thinks we have better odds of getting that by not being so hard on Assad, then I say more power to Obama. I sure hope he is right.

    [FSR comment: I don’t think it’s careful calculation. I think it’s squeamishness.]

  3. Lee Says:

    Rather than discussing whether the President is “squeamish,” an adjective that evokes the liar/competence domain for me (as in your more recent post about Blair), I would like to discuss the issue at hand. What are the advantages in treating Assad more harshly at this time? What are the disadvantages? Which way does the balance tilt?

    Some answers I come up with for advantages are: (1) Assad deserves it, (2) it will help to reassure his opposition that we haven’t abandoned their mission. Some disadvantages are: (1) he is less likely to give in if he thinks it means total destruction for all that he cares about, (2) it may embolden his opposition to pick up arms (to the net detriment of the ultimate cause).

    Care to add more or weight the two sides? I am thinking that pretty much everything that can be achieved while being harsh can also be achieved while being “squeamish”, but that the latter keeps the door more open for a relatively non-violent transition in the Egyptian style.

    [FSR response: OK, you don’t like the word “squeamish.” Maybe “inert” would have been more accurate. Problem is, our government seems to be essentially ignoring the situation. We can debate the best approach. But for Pete’s sake let’s do SOMETHING.]

  4. Lee Says:

    I don’t know what you mean by “inert” in this context.

    In case it is relevant … I’ve noticed that the expectations for military and non-military approaches are different. For a military operation I hear: it can take years, but what would you expect … it takes time to bake a ham; it can cost a hundred thousand lives, but what would you expect … you have to break eggs to make an omelette. On the other hand, a non-military operation that has been ongoing for, what, tens of weeks, or has seen the loss of one thousand lives, is frequently deemed a failure … or perhaps an “inert” operation.

    [FSR comment: The “operation” as you call it is being mounted by Syrian citizens. I’m not aware of any “operation” on the part of the US to help them (hardly even any rhetoric!). That’s what I mean by “inert.”]

    Personally, I am still more hopeful about Syria than Libya, despite that some would say that we are doing “nothing” for the former.

  5. Lee Says:

    I think what the Syrian people need is publicity. I hope that Obama is doing his utmost to make sure that every undemocratic move (or worse) made by the Syrian government gets the widest possible exposure, especially in the audience comprised of current and potential supporters of the Syrian government.

    [FSR: Doing his utmost? Not a word, I believe, about Syria at yesterday’s press conference.]

  6. Lee Says:

    Guessing from recent news, I bet the budget “battle” upstaged the Syrian battle at the press conference. The Syrians need us to do better.

  7. Lee Says:

    The Syrian government is now heavily playing the “foreigners are fomenting the unrest” card. Perhaps Obama is wise in avoiding grandstanding.

    I continue to think that publicizing the acts of atrocity, but otherwise not getting involved, will leave the Syrian people in the strongest position. I wish I knew that Obama is working towards that.

    [FSR: The US & French Ambassadors going to Hama to show solidarity with the people was a really excellent thing to do.]

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