Friday, August 30, 2013

Dear Bashar. . .From Barack

(Originally published in The Times of Israel)

Dear Bashar:

Hi.  I hope the family is doing well, given the circumstances.  We're doing fine.  The girls are growing into fine young ladies and Michelle, well, I'm sure you've seen those pictures of her in sleeveless dresses (is there any other kind?).  She keeps pumping iron and sure has the results to show for it.  I'm not bragging.  Just sayin'. 

I won't even ask how you are doing.  I know this isn't easy. You have sure created a mess.  I mean, really.  This is not what we expected at all.

 You went to medical school in England and became an opthamologist.  My God, we all thought you wanted to keep people healthy.  You married an upper-crust, refined woman raised in England, the product of the finest schools.  She seemed so interested in keeping people healthy and happy.  She bled on-screen for those poor kids of Gaza suffering at the boot of the Zionist entity.  Ha, ha, I'm guessing Gaza is looking like Club Med to most Syrians these days. 

So, we all thought you would never do what you're doing.  I mean, take John Kerry.  When old John was a senator, he spent more time meeting and eating and drinking with you than just about anybody else.  I couldn't turn on the TV without him popping up coming out of a meeting with you and declaring what a reformer you are.  Boy, those days sure seem like a long time ago now, don't they, Bashar?

Unfortunately, you went and did some really stupid stuff.  You didn't do any of the reforms.  You talked a good game.  But when some folks in Syria started protesting, boy oh boy, you sure acted like your dad.  You just started mowing people down, throwing them in jail, torturing them. 

You didn't seem to realize that these days are different than the days when your dad got away with this stuff.  I mean, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones.  It's a new day, Bashar.  You gotta understand this stuff.  These days, you can't just go and slaughter 100,000 men, women, and children and cause millions of refugees and think you are going to get away with it. 

Wait a minute.  You did get away with it!  I mean, that's where I made some mistakes.  (Note how I can recognize and acknowledge mine.  A little self-reflection by you wouldn't be bad either.  Just a suggestion.) 

When I might have been able to do something without using much military force, and when there might have been some chance of a decent alternative to replace you, I did next to nothing.  I gave that great "leading from behind" speech in order to get everybody behind taking out Qaddafi, but I couldn't get as energized about you.

Even though you're tied to Iran and to Hezbollah, and putting you in your place, or I should say, putting you in another place, would have been a big hit in their faces.  But I didn't do much of anything and I guess you took that as a green light, go for the goal line, pick your metaphor. My bad. (Hey, anybody still saying that?)

Then I really screwed up.  I set a "red line."  Now that was stupid. I admit it.  I said that if you even moved your chemical weapons, we'd do something.  Boy, I wish I had never said that.  Honestly, I surprised myself, not to mention my staff.  Wow, were they ever caught by surprise!  Talk about deer in the headlights!

But there it was.  I said it.  I tried to forget about it.  I mean, everyone knew when you moved those weapons.  We didn't do anything.  Did you take that as a one-time pass and commit to not using the damn things?  No, not you.  You went and used them.  Again, we didn't do anything.  Did you appreciate that and not use them anymore?  No.  I don't want to call you ungrateful, but, my God, Bashar, you really think you can get away with anything when it comes to me and my red lines. 

Well, now you've gone and done it.  I might be able to look the other way when you slaughter 100,000 people and create millions of refugees with the conventional ruthless tools of a tyrant, but I sure can't let you get away with violating a red line I've set when you kill 1,000 people with gas.  I mean, what will the neighbors think?

So, Bashar, you just went too far and now I've got to do something.  Otherwise, who will take my red lines seriously?  But, not to worry.  I've got to hit you to show that you can't violate my red lines, but that doesn't mean you really have to get hurt.  We can work this all out.

So, Bashar, here's the deal.  We'll be sending a few missiles your way in the next few days or so.  But, we're giving you plenty of notice so you can get the family and friends and generals and torturers out of the way.  Wouldn't want to hurt any of them.  Also, feel free to move any weapons that you don't want hit.  That includes the chemical ones.You've got plenty of time.  Use it wisely. 

And don't you worry about this causing you any long-term troubles.  I'm mad at you, and I have to show the world (or at least me) that my red lines mean something, but I am not going to do anything that might cause you to be thrown out.  This is going to be just a little hit, and then everything will get back to normal. 

You'll be able to go right on shelling and killing and torturing men, women, and children, and creating refugees with impunity, and it will all be just like it was.  Just don't use those chemical weapons.  (By the way, it would be real nifty if somehow you could make sure they never get in the hands of people even crazier than you.) You promise not to do that, and I promise not to set anymore of those stupid red lines.

Thanks, buddy, for your understanding.  This will be over real soon, and we'll all be able to get back to normal. 

Best to the family.




  1. You must submit this as an op-ed to the New York Times. It is outstanding!

  2. Thank you for the unbelievably great letter.

  3. Good piece. I too have been disappointed (so far) with the White House response which apparently doesn’t contemplate regime change. I see no point in lobbing a few Tomahawk missiles at some grunt Syrian troops at a military base when the miscreant who gave the order goes about his business. What lesson is that to a guy willing to gas his own people? Red lines should be personal and subject to a little Old West justice. An acquaintance, who is a recently retired high-level Army intelligence guy, tells me that it is verboten to “assassinate” national leaders. There must be a court somewhere that can issue a “Wanted Dead or Alive” warrant and be done with it. Stay safe,

  4. Did Edward Snowden share this letter with you? Well done!

  5. You continue to amaze me with your creativity! Keep it coming.

  6. This rings true, even as satire!

  7. Great letter, wish " over in a little bit" we're true, back to normal is not good, we want better!

  8. 14 million out of (current estimate) 7.1 BILLION people. Less than 0.01 percent of the world’s population, but, according to apparent records, 23% of all individual Nobel Prize winners since 1900.