I hardly ever do this—confess my love for married women, let alone wives of brutal Middle East suppressionist dictators. Like almost never. I’m a man of simple tastes. Picnics under sprawling live oaks with nips of crisp Chardonnay. Jean Luc Goddard nights at the vintage theatre downtown. Slow, competent love-making. I’m no totalitarian.
Still, I would be remiss, nay impotent, if I did not take this decisive moment in history to shine brightly in your direction like a lighthouse to a battered skiff, like the moon rising over Lake Assad, whose beauty is surpassed only by another Assad, you my lovely.
I know your story: English-born to Syrian parents; you didn’t know where you fit in. Private girls school couldn’t keep the boys away, but you hunkered down with your studies, you little bookworm. Then came university. You were the studious computer science major with a flair for French literature. Well, On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entire, baby. I could recite Proust in your ear until the wee hours. You were always just fine on your own—hedge fund managing at Deutsche, onto J.P. Morgan where you specialized in mergers and acquisitions. I would like to make a merger of my own. I am speaking of you and me, my dear.
But then you met him. I understand. I do. Vulnerable career woman wooed by the quiet son of an iron-fisted dictator. It’s the stuff of supermarket romance novels. When his ruling elder brother died suddenly, the people cried out for their spirits to be crushed once more! Of course you would join him to tyrannize the land of your ancestors!
Those days are numbered though, delicate Asma. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya. Have you seen the footage of Gaddafi’s apprehension? Ouchy-wa-wa. It’s like, Hey, how about not putting foreign objects into my bottom?
Worse still, Bashar doesn’t get you. Like when he bombed Homs back to the Stone Age. As if he didn’t know that was where parents first fell in love! A mountain of deceit hides beneath that thin little mustache of his.
I would never bomb your ancestral village, baby. I get you. You like crystal-encrusted shoes, diamonds more gleaming than the eyes of your children, anti-Semitism, belittling the less attractive wives of other presidents, sucking marrow from bones of the poor. I get that! And if it’s bad boys you’re after, then look no further. Sometimes I don’t bother sorting the recycling, or I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk. From there, it’s just a short jump to war crimes.
I worry for you, my darling. Those savages are out for blood, and democracy or something. Where in the world are you (aside from my thoughts as always)? Rumor has it you may have fled to London with a large portion of your government’s 40 billion pounds. 40 billion. 40. Four Zero. That’s not exactly chump change, is it? We could carve out a nice little life for ourselves with that. Somewhere remote. Away from all the glitz and glam and photographers and military tribunials. Or maybe we could take that seed money down to some up-and-coming impoverished nation, fund a coup, champion ourselves as voices of the revolution, steal power, enjoy a brief renaissance, but then refuse to relinquish authority, limit communication, arrest passersby, erode liberties just to show who’s boss, pass the torch to our own brood when the time comes…start this thing all over again. But from the beginning, the good old days. It’s you and I against the world, mon amour, ma rose du désert.