I’ve been a walking heartache / I’ve made a mess of me / The person that I’ve been lately / Ain’t who I wanna be / But you stay here right beside me / Watch as the storm goes through.
Those are the lyrics of an American country song. They’re also the words Bashar al-Assad sent to his wife the day that Homs began to be shelled.
There’s something deeply disturbing about finding out what tyrants like to do for ‘fun’. Kim Jong-il had his obsession with Elizabeth Taylor, Gaddaffi his scrapbook of Condoleezza Rice photos. And now, it seems, Assad has his collection of crap American pop music including the likes of Chris Brown and The Cover Girls, at least when he’s not busy playing Real Racing 2 on his iPad.
That’s not all. He sent a YouTube video to his staff lamely mocking the Arab League’s inspections as the crackdown escalated, and his wife, meanwhile, seems to live a life of hellish consumerism, chasing down rare thousand-pound vases from Harrods, purchasing chocolate fondue sets, sharing extortionate crystal-heel shoes with friends, buying chandeliers and complaining about the design details of a nightstand ordered from Chelsea.
It’s easy to laugh now at what I wrote merely a month ago upon seeing footage of interviews with her:
I don’t believe this woman lived a lie, faking commitment to all these causes only to now show her true colours through silence over the past year… I find that more plausible than the idea of a woman who talks of humanity, but deep down values wealth and status, even if the cost is blood.
This is, we can now see very clearly, a woman so blinded by power and privilege that she happily and casually gorges on superfluities as her husband oversees a year-long bloodbath. And he himself is so coldly pathetic that he simultaneously mocks his own responsibility for mass murder by sharing a lame video like a giggling kid, whilst attempting to play Mr. Nice to his wife by sharing soppy music written by an American.
How can anyone reach the stage where this lifestyle, predicated on pillaging a nation’s resources whilst annihilating the citizenry, all for the sake of fuelling your bulging appetite for all things Western that you profess to despise – how could this lifestyle ever appear desirable?
There’s surely no greater sign of insanity than living for blood-stained shoes and chandeliers.
Full coverage of the Guardian exclusive here.
(Image: cartoon from The Times.)