defining moments of dictators


[Note : sincerest apologies if this list isn’t original.  The final fight scene above ends a movie about a repressive regime.  The Precious Reader is politely warned about the graphic nature of some of the videos below. ]

I CONFESS I came up with this list spurred mainly by the continued loss to Syrian life and well-being, between 28,000 and 37,860, since the conflict started March 2011, based on multiple estimates, the blood of so many on the hands of just one person, but it’s more than that.

The core concept of dictatorships is not rooted in the present, though most of the benefits and enjoyment derived is definitely in the moment.   Rather, dictators swing the scythe and lap up the lucre with an eye trained on the next twenty to thirty years, in fact jumping over at least one generation.  Escaping at the very least, or even better, exemption from the consequences of (civil and political) crimes and security in the ownership of assets and currency unlawfully acquired during the dictatorship.  This set of infernal goals occupies the dictator’s mind 24/7.

But like Lance Armstrong and his decade-plus masterful deception of nearly the entire sporting world, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and you can’t escape Lady Justice forever, and as proven in the following, justice grinds slow but exceedingly well.

Please note that instead of titling this episode Last Moments of Dictators, it felt more appropriate to use Defining Moments of Dictators, as these truly defined and best encapsulated the narrative of the despot :

No accurate numbers are available, but on his way to and while consolidating his power, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania not only murdered thousands of political opponents, protesters and dissidents, he solicited and enjoyed the support and assistance of his wife Elena.  It was therefore not surprising that there were few tears shed over the latter’s death sentence after both were tried for numerous crimes.  Their execution was notable in that Elena insisted on being executed together with her husband.  Their wish was granted.

Saddam Hussein has been estimated to be directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of around one million, including his genocidal adventures against the Kurds, an Iraqi ethnic minority (up to 300,000), and up to 500,000 dead because of international trade sanctions imposed after the Gulf War.  He was found hiding in a one-man foxhole December 2003, and even before a six-month trial for multiple crimes against humanity was concluded, he was executed by hanging 30 December 2005.

The fictionalized scene above doesn’t show it, but two days before the Russian Red Army would take complete control over Berlin, Chancellor and later dictator Adolf Hitler and his new bride (and long-time mistress) Eva Braun committed suicide in a bomb shelter.  Hitler had been directly responsible for the deaths of at least 11 million, including six million Jews.

Muammar Gaddafi‘s death, compared to the others here, appears to be the most graphic and painful.  His location, uncovered by NATO operatives and rushed by Libyan rebels, resulted in his capture, during which he was bayoneted, beaten and finally shot by unidentified persons.  Having ruled Libya between 1969 and 2011, it wouldn’t be too surprising to know that the Colonel caused the deaths of many people on his way to entrenching himself in power, although we couldn’t find even estimates for such number of deaths.

It’s rather trite, but the two things that come to mind are power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

And another, from our very own Gat Jose Rizal :

There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.

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