How Bashar Al-Assad Rationalizes 'Doing Harm'

National Journal

 

It was a strange set-up for an interview. Rumors had circulatedfor a couple of days that former Democratic Rep Dennis Kucinich had scored an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Fox only promoted the interview hours before it aired, and it came with a string of qualifications from anchor Bret Baier. "Kucinich was not there in the capacity of a journalist, nor was he representing fox news in that role," he said. Fox News reporter Greg Palkot joined him, however, and asked half the questions.

Assad gave a string of answers that are sure to rile Obama and those who share the assement of U.S. intelligence.

Assad admitted that yes, Syria has chemical weapons. "It's not a secret anymore," Assad said. He also relayed he will agree to hand them over, but made some strange warnings that doing so "would be very detrimental to the environment." But yet, he continued to deny that they were used by the government.

Assad said Syria wasn't engaged in a civil war but in a war against jihadists funded by outsiders. He said that fewer civilians have been killed than what has been reported. Palkot asked the president if he engaged in the mass killings of his own people. Assad denied that accusation, saying that in the villages he bombed, the civilians had fled or were serving as human shields. "Whether the terrorists enter an area, the civilians would leave, unless they use them as a human shield," he said. "So in the case of the Syrian army attack area, where there is no civilians living in it most of the cases you can hardly find civilians."

So he deniedmost of the horrible allegations slung against him. But he lent some insight into how he rationalizes such acts.

Kucinich asked him:

Not everyone who is watching this interview today knows that you are a doctor. You are an MD. And you have done this before you were president. As you know, doctors take an oath never to do harm to anyone. That's a direct quote from the Hippocratic oath. Does a doctor give that up when he takes political office?

Assad responded with a metaphor that could justify any sort of aggresion, if it's for that great historical steamroller, "the greater good." He said that sometimes you have to cut off a limb to save the patient:

First of all doctor takes the right decision to protect the life of the patient. You can't say they do not do harm physically. Sometimes they have to extract the bad member that could kill the patient. Extract eyes, could extract leg and so on. But you don't say he is a bad doctor. It's still a humanitarian job, whatever they do. The same for politician but in a larger scale. Doctors deal with one patient. Whether your decision help the life of the Syrians or not in such a situation. Nobody likes the violence. We are against the violence. But what will we do when the terrorists attack your country? And kill the people. Would you say that I'm against violence or you defend? You have army. You have police. They have to do their job. This is the constitution. This is the -- the role of any government. What did they do in Los Angeles in the 1990s when you have [riots]? Send your army? You did. So, this is the mission of the government the most important thing is when you make the decision whether it harms or not which would help the majority of the people. It's better if you take the decision that could help everyone but sometimes, in certain circumstances, in difficult circumstances, you cannot. So you have to take the less harmful.

Well, 100,000 people and 4 million refugees is an awfully big limb to remove. What's left of the body?

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