When U.S. President Richard Nixon visited Syria in 1974, Syrians lined the streets of Damascus to greet him. Not all were delighted by his visit, though. "Isn't that Nixon the same one you have been telling us for years is an evil man who is completely in the control of the Zionists and our enemies?" an 8-year-old boy asked his father. "How could you welcome him and shake his hand?"

Today, that boy is president of Syria.

Though the United States is currently focused on destroying Syria's chemical-weapons arsenal, its long-term goal is to remove Bashar Assad from power. To do so, however, requires understanding the xenophobia that reigns in Syria.