Dear President [...]

Well, you did it again, President [...]

Your opponents are flummoxed, perhaps even a little humiliated after your latest political demonstration. They thought they had you in a tight spot, but you played your cards carefully, and you showed everyone you know how to use your authority. You used your people well. Yes, you say, you're a little diminished now, but who wouldn't be, after so many years in charge of a large and fractious country?

You certainly know the art of political self-preservation, and you have a talent for putting on a show. You have little interest in democracy, but you have always known how to use the media when it suits you, and the latest incident is no exception. Your opponents call you all kinds of names, but they have always underestimated your talent.

Of course, there are the courts. The lawyers and judges will come after you and your friends -- they have been doing so already -- and you may lose a few important allies along the way. Necessary sacrifices! And yet in the end, judges merely wear robes, and their words of condemnation do not carry force by themselves. (Judges can also easily be replaced, as you have shown.) Justice, in short, is merely a word, a debating point for powerless intellectuals like myself. Unqualified, absolute Power -- that is where you deal.

It comes down to this: you have the support of the military, and the military is everything. The needs of security and the projection of strength carry great emotional force for most citizens. The fact that you have weakened your country's democratic institutions does not particularly worry you. It is doubtful that your citizens will demand their return; democracy can always be sacrificed in the name of security, can it not? The simmering resentment of the masses, in all except extreme cases, can be managed, can it not? (That is what tear gas is for.)

You may win this round -- indeed, by quieting your opponents, it is hard to see how it could be otherwise. You may or may not stay in power much longer yourself, but you have a good chance of seeing a friendly successor continue your policies. If you are as smart as you have seemed to be thus far, you will avoid the disgrace that ended the careers of many of your predecessors.

History, however, will still judge you. It will always be there, staring back at the waste of these years, casting an unblinking eye on the mess you've made.

[Which President, of which country?]