International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Assad’s Rationality and Criminality: Behind the Foreign Affairs Interview

This is a really interesting clip from Jonathan Tepperman who interviewed Syria’s President Assad for Foreign Affairs. His conclusions are particularly thought provoking, but i encourage to watch the whole clip (if not read the full interview).

“The first is Assad’s very effective facade of rationality and reasonableness. This is a profoundly unreasonable person who is either in deep deep deep denial to an extent that suggests serious psychological issues, or he is extremely and unhesitatingly deceptive and mendacious. And the second that he is utterly utterly unrepentant about everything that has happened in four years of horrible fighting and the incredibly long catalogue of abuses from his government for which he is directly responsible. And the third is that he is as rigid and inflexible as he’s been from the very beginning.”

There have been many calls for a war crimes court to be set up for Syria, and experts have worked on a draft statute for it. Some have also called on the ICC to intervene in Syria, but this would require a UN Security Council referral (and problematically, Russia’s approval) to do so. In the short term, the threat of justice and prosecutions is not likely to deter Assad, particularly given what this journalist conveys about his rationality and complete abdication of responsibility.


One response to “Assad’s Rationality and Criminality: Behind the Foreign Affairs Interview

  1. natreid7 February 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    This clip brings up really fascinating questions of the psychology and mental status of powerful people who commit such widespread atrocities. There are many goals of international law and justice, and a primary one is to go after the “big fish”, or major political leaders who are the masterminds behind the atrocities. However, how is one going to make a major political leader become truly accountable for his/her actions when, in the words of Tepperman in his analysis of Assad, “Something is wrong on a fundamental level.” Assad, like many other perpetrators of atrocities, does not fit the image of a bloodthirsty leader. Tangentially related, a recent US study has been revealed that claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin has asperger’s syndrome. Whether or not this study is remotely accurate is beside the point—the point is that something is internally off-balance inside Putin, and most likely for other corrupt political leaders like him and Assad. The definition of justice for these perpetrators truly becomes muddled—how can you make someone become truly accountable for his or her crimes if they are so truly delusional that they do not believe what they are doing is wrong? I therefore believe that more and more this definition of justice should turn towards emphasis on justice for the victims versus accountability and punishment for the perpetrators.

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