One of the strategies in the information warfare against Syria is the psycho-pathologization and infantilization of Assad as detached from reality/delusional, irrational and irresponsible. There are abundant examples of the employment of this strategy, not only against the Syrian president, but against all members of the resistance axis (I will be writing a series of articles on this soon). It was therefore encouraging to see how Assad detected this strategy by launching his own counter-attack in his interview with the Sunday Times.
Here for example, Assad not only responds to the “detached from reality” charge, but turns it on its head and deflects it back to its source:
“Firstly, detached from reality: Syria has been fighting adversaries and foes for two years; you cannot do that if you do not have public support. People will not support you if you are detached from their reality. A recent survey in the UK shows that a good proportion British people want “to keep out of Syria” and they do not believe that the British government should send military supplies to the rebels in Syria. In spite of this, the British government continues to push the EU to lift its arms embargo on Syria to start arming militants with heavy weapons. That is what I call detached from reality–when you are detached from your own public opinion!”
And here he uses the same infantilizing terminology as Syria’s enemies when he calls out the British government for being “immature”, “naïve” and for failing to behave “responsibly”. He also depicts it as acting irrationally and against its own interests—using the same western psycho-pathologizing discourse which is typically reserved for defiant states like Syria and Iran:
“The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. I am being frank. How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role while it is determined to militarize the problem? … This is not logical. I think that they are working against us and working against the interest of the UK itself. This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way.”
In an interview on the BBC today, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague did everything to confirm Assad’s portrayal of the British government as living in la la land. In the context of the Assad interview, Hague elaborated on his efforts to expand the scope of “non-lethal” military aid [an oxymoron not lost on Assad], and boldly declared that he would “not rule out” providing lethal military assistance to the Syrian rebels in the future: “I do not rule out anything for the future. If this is going to go on for months or years—it’s gone on for two years already—and tens of thousands of people are going to die and countries like Iraq and Lebanon and Jordan are going to be destabilised it is not something we can ignore.” So essentially, Hague’s logic is that by providing sectarian groups and Salafi-Takfiri militants and terrorists with more weapons, sectarian tensions in countries like Lebanon and Iraq will actually diminish and stability will return to Syria’s neighbours. I can’t believe Assad couldn’t preempt such airtight logic when he accused Britain of fanning the flames of sectarian war.
Then, as if afflicted with severe case of Anterograde Amnesia, Hague seemed to suggest Britain had no interest in military assistance and was merely donating blankets. When asked to respond to Assad’s question “how can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supplies to the terrorists?” Hague replied: “We Britain, are the people sending food and shelter and blankets to help people driven from their homes in his name…” completely ignoring what he had just said seconds earlier.
And then, moments later, Hague insinuates that Britain would in fact be willing to shift the nature of its aid from blankets to weapons even if they “got into the wrong hands”, i.e. the al-Qaeda type whose now commonplace terrorist attacks have claimed thousands of innocent civilian lives. This is the “balance of risks” that the British government would be willing to take: “You can reach the point eventually where humanitarian need is so great… that you have to do something new in order to save lives. That’s why I don’t rule it out in the future.” Apparently, when the world is faced with a major humanitarian crisis involving tens of thousands of casualties, the best way to solve it is to further militarize the crisis and arm the very groups who are at least partly responsible for the crisis in the first place. Makes perfect sense.
Such logic, or complete lack thereof, was all the more evident in Hague’s response to the interviewer when she wondered out loud “but he [Assad] has a point….there is no guarantee arming the rebels would end the conflict at all”. Hague merely repeated that “we have to do what we can to save lives…he [Assad] has had two years of opportunities to sit down in real dialogue and has refused every opportunity to do so.” Right, Assad was truly insane to squander “opportunities” that could have saved Syria like Western diktat to surrender, or the rebels’ refusal to enter any of the dialogue initiatives proposed by the Syrian government unless Assad immediately step down. Pure madness.
And to conclude his self-contradictory, irrational and self-delusional series of insults to viewers’ intelligence, Hague asserts: “Like Lakhdar Ibrahimi… said this week that Assad thinks and is told by his inner circle that all of this is an international conspiracy not the actual rebellion and revolt of his own people. I think this will go down as one of the most delusional interviews that any national leader has given in modern times.”
And everyone else who misconstrued what the agreeable White Man with the posh British accent said about Britain’s current and future military intervention in Syria as constituting an “international conspiracy”, is clearly partaking in a mass delusion.