Comedian | Professor | Writer
(& Smartest) Arab
Dear President Obama,
My views about the current situation in Syria are borne out of my experience and existence as an Arab-American. I am not just an Arab, nor just an American. I am both, at the same time, all the time. The lands of my heritage reside at the headlines of American news almost daily. If you think that could lead to some complicated stuff, you’re right.
The civil war in Syria is raging. As Arabs, we are emotionally invested, whether we like it or not. Whether it is Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Palestine, and now Syria, we have been on a bit of a roller coaster the past few years.
Well, I am ready for the ride to end. So President Obama, I beg you, please don’t bomb Syria.
We are told that the Syrian regime is brutal, unwilling to engage with any opposition, choosing to violently crush the rebellion, killing tens of thousands of its own citizens, even using chemical weaponry.
Bashar al-Assad is a dictator, no matter how “promising” he may have seemed years ago. We know that.
But President Obama, please don’t bomb Syria.
Human rights are under attack in Syria. The refugee crisis is out of control. We are told that 2 million Syrians have been driven out of their homes. Over 100,000 have been killed inside Syria. The numbers are horrifying.
But still, President Obama, please don’t bomb Syria.
You say that if you don’t bomb, American credibility will suffer. I remember your “red line” quote a year ago, and I remember worrying when I heard it. But it’s OK. We all exaggerate. I remember my mom telling me, “Make fun of me one more time, and I will kill you.” Well, I made fun of her again. But I’m still here.
And by the way, is that the kind of “credibility” we’re looking to uphold? Is that we are trying to say to the world? “If we say we are going to bomb you, you better believe we are going to bomb you.” Well, I have a solution to save our credibility. Let’s stop saying we’re going to bomb people.
And I seem to remember some other promises you made regarding the Arab World. Your Cairo speech in 2009 was entitled “A New Beginning.” You said Palestinian statehood was just as legitimate as Israel’s. You said Iraq “reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.” You spoke of democracy, human rights, and economic cooperation. They gave you the Nobel Peace Prize for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” You were a superstar everywhere, from Chicago to Baghdad. No American president had been in that position since… actually, no American president had ever been in that position.
Well, to put it lightly, you’re not as popular with Arabs as you used to be. You said the Tunisian people were brave as they rose up against their dictator. But when Egyptians did the same thing against your friend in Cairo, you stayed quiet. You didn’t say much when citizens in Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain protested against their authoritarian regimes. But you helped the Libyan people kill their dictator in the streets.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this. If you think you can still save American “credibility,” you’re too late.
So, seriously, don’t bomb Syria.
If you do, you will definitely give a shot in the arm to the Syrian opposition, whoever they might be. But they are indistinct, with no real central leadership. They are also engaging in unspeakable violence, executing Syrian soldiers in violation of international law. Further, they are polluted with right-wing extremist Islamists, exactly the type of people America has been fighting against since 9/11.
There is an old Arabic proverb that says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” If you bomb Syria, al-Qaeda will claim victory. Do you need more of a reason not to do it?
And there are more signs that this is a bad idea. Republicans in Congress are mostly against your proposed action. Republicans against war? I know, it seems un-American. It also seems like a really bad episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Well, nothing good ever happened on that show.
So, don’t bomb Syria.
Finally, if you bomb Syria, my life will just get more hectic. I don’t want to keep demonstrating and writing against American policies. I’m trying to move forward with my life. I’d like to find a girl, settle down, and have a couple kids. You’re really hindering that process. You’re bomb-blocking me.
And if I do have kids one day, I want them to love America like I do, and not just because of free refills and dollar menus, but for real reasons. Because I’m sick of explaining how I love the country I live in, even though it keeps bombing the countries I come from.