Assad and a dictators love affair with himself…
If you look at the supposedly face-saving address by Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, then it shows in perfect detail why (usually) violent revolution is literally the only way to remove a dictator from power. Firstly, he has an extremely distorted sense of self; the Syrian people are in ‘love’ with him. From Assad’s point of view this probably makes sense because he is the people on an important level and people generally love themselves. Witness this for a prize piece of narcissistic egoism to top them all:
Mr Assad said he remained convinced that his people loved him after engaging both protesters and non-protesters in conversations to try to find a way forward for Syria.
“What I have learned was immense and the love that I felt from those people. I have never felt such love towards me,” he said. “Obviously this love is reciprocated to every citizen, even those I’ve never met.”
Furthermore, it therefore follows that opponents are ‘foreign’ influences and invaders of the ‘healthy’ Syrian body politic which loves itself and its leader. Contrast this with politicians in a parliamentary democracy that are at least semi-aware of their position in society, slightly less hated than syphilis and probably only marginally more representative of the people they serve. It is totally true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Everybody criticises the West for it’s hypocrisy in its double-dealing with dictatorships such as as Assad’s, rightly so, but what is also surprising is the mind-boggling short-sightedness shown in expecting them to last. They were always built on the flimsiest of social bases – the enrichment of a small caste through the marketing of a finite (but valuable) resource – and therefore were always a ticking time bomb.
Amoung other things, the Arab Spring has to bring us face-to-face not just with our own double standards in foreign policy but the extreme case of myopia which has afflicted it for decades. In reality, supporting the people against their hated regimes was always a safer bet – now, despite our Johnny-come-lately attempt to save-face in Libya – we are going to have to face the long-term consequences of that short-sightedness and they are unlikely to be pleasant.
However, this is a purely self-inflicted wound and had the West not just adhered to consistent standards but shown more long-term joined-up thinking and a greater awareness of it’s own fallibility, precisely the quality which escapes the likes of Assad and makes them so dangerous, we probably would not be in this situation.