Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bashshar Al-Asad speaks

I stayed late to watch a repeat airing of the interview with Bashshar Al-Asad that was conducted by Charlie Rose.  Like Walid Jumblat, Bashshar suffers from an acute case of White Man worship.  He rather speaks to a passing American in Syria, than to speak to his own people.  So the interview was lacking because Rose only asked general questions.  I watched it and got angrier and angrier.  Not that I had expectations about Bashshar.  But the man shows no signs of humanity, compassion, sympathy, or sentimentality.  He speaks like a robot and can laugh casually and flippantly about an on-going tragedy in a country that he insists on leading and representing.  He is very intelligent but is very supercilious at the same time.  He always speaks like he is the smartest person in the room (he got accustomed to that from Arab League summit meetings because he is smarter than the rest, although the competition there is not tough).  And make no mistake about it: his intelligence wins him support (I count my mother (a Sunni, before you jump to sectarian assumptions) as a  supporter of Bashshar but partly because she has admiration for intelligence and education and has contempt for the illiterate dumb Arab rivals of Bashshar.  She also is a Nasserist).  But there is more than intelligence in a leader: compassion and emotions are lacking in his composition.  The man speaks as if the death of over 100,000 Syrians happened on another planet.  There are no signs of sorrow or sadness in his voice or tone.  For him, life is a debate that you win with mental or intellectual power against a White Man on a TV screen.  The man has not spoken with emotion about the death of all those Syrians even to the Syrian people.  He does not seem to care one bit.  I hate historical analogies but yesterday he did remind me of Saddam, although he is much smarter than Saddam, whose stupidity was underestimated by everybody (as April Glaspie once put it).  All those dead Syrians don't seem to bother the conscience of this callous man, even if he thinks that all were killed by his "terrorist" enemies.  Yesterday, I was watching the interview and comparing his visage and performance with that of Jamal `Abdul-Nasser after 1967.  Look up the video of Nasser's resignation in June 1967: in that video, you see in the tone, voice, speech, and shoulders of Nasser the entire weight of the reality of the death of Egyptians (some 10,000 Egyptian soldiers are thought to have been killed) and the number of those who were missing or injured.  Nasser was able to show his sorrow and sadness and pain for the suffering inflicted on the Egyptian people.  None of that in the performance of this cold man, Bashshar.  Nasser died in June 1967, although the official announcement of his death did not come until three years later.  Watching Bashshar yesterday, I could only feel disgust and contempt toward him.