News item: The president of Syria, His Excellency Bashar al-Assad, delivered an address to parliament in Damascus over the weekend in which he compared his crackdown on protesters to a doctor performing surgery.
You are welcome, my grateful and ever-fearful subjects. No need to thank me personally. No need to kiss my hand in gratitude. You couldn't get past my security anyway. So just stay where you are. And don't make any sudden moves.
As I was saying last Sunday, when a doctor performs surgery and cuts and saws and amputates, you don't accuse him of having blood on his hands, you thank him for saving the patient. So I accept your thanks. Which I am sure are coming at any moment. Or were lost in the mail. It's so hard to find good help these days. Food tasters, too. How's about I just assume your gratitude and go from there?
This unfortunate revolt you may have heard about is, of course, the work of foreigners. Which is why up to 13,000 Syrians have had to be killed in the crackdown. What is that the Americans said in Vietnam? Sometimes you have to destroy a village to save it? Well, sometimes you have to kill a nation to save it.
Think of me as the doctor who has to cut out the problem. Or problems. Thousands of them. Maybe tens of thousands before this doctor is through with you. Once I get started on something, it's hard to stop. I'm no quitter. And, really, it gets to be fun after a while. A snip here and an amputation there, a lobotomy to top it all off, and the patient will be right as rain in a few days. Who needs a heart anyway? I do fine without one.
My security forces are saving the country. With every bullet they fire into the crowd, every mother and child mown down in their home, the country gets safer. Or at least I do. If only these protesters would just stop protesting, we'd stop killing. Eventually.
Look at our friends and loyal allies in North Korea. They know how to do security. You never hear of any protests there. And all their polls show that the people in North Korea are 100 percent in agreement with their dear leader -- and had better be. No protests equal complete harmony. And that's all I ask for here. Complete agreement. Here's the deal: Agree with me and we'll all have peace. Or else.
Those crazy Americans are asking me to leave Syria. That's a laugh. Why would I leave my home? Why would I give up the power I have amassed? And the power my father amassed before me? I'm not that desperate. There are still enough people on our payroll to keep shelling my critics -- or assure their silence. The silence of the grave.
Paris would be nice this time of year. But I'm not ready to make my reservations. Not as long as Russia and China can veto anything that the UN's Security Council suggests. It's worked for my Iranian friends.
As long as our friends have veto power over the rest of the world, I'm staying. What, you think this is Libya? Moammar was an idiot. He didn't cultivate enough friends in high enough places. Me, I cultivate. Like mad. I've got a friend atop every blood-soaked tyranny in the world.
Yes, atrocities happen. But I have nothing to do with them. As for what happened in Houla, I know nothing. How in the world did that happen? More to the point, how did the outside world hear about it? It's all another plot by Those Lying Newspapers. But this, too, will blow over. Who's going to take it seriously -- Kofi Annan, the hero of Srebrenica? Good old Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Fight no Evil? Please.
But I do promise an investigation. We'll get to the bottom of this. Trust me. Even before the investigation is concluded, even before it begins, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty what it'll find, or better find: It was all the work of foreign interests. And of their agents in Syria, aka my critics.
While the Americans were calling on me to step aside, our Russian friends had the decency to say they'd await the results of our investigation. But they did say they were disturbed by events here -- "disturbed that some countries went ahead and cast blame." Attaway, comrades!
By all means, let the Russians and the rest of the world wait for the result of our investigation: Wait and wait and wait.
A few years from now, maybe even a few months, who's going to remember a town in Syria called Houla? Who remembers it now?
Yes, by all means, let the investigation proceed first. While our forces reload.
This, this ... woman who's now the American foreign minister, Hillary Clinton, says the best outcome for all in Syria would be for me to leave. This cannot happen. What would happen to the patient if the doctor leaves the hospital? How would the doctor keep amputating everything that needs amputating? No, I must stay here. Duty calls.
Besides, I like it here. I'm surrounded by security. I have half the world as allies. Our parliament -- the People's Council -- always sees reason. If you use the right tools. And if protesters get out of line, we have snipers, tanks, artillery ... all the proper instruments to bring healing. You wouldn't believe what a tank can do to a cardboard sign.
If you'll excuse me, I'll get back to you after my next operation. Just as soon as I wash the blood off. It may take some time.