Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Historical Insanity

Some Evil Dictators who met a Just Fate

Sadly, often evade justice even in their deaths. For instance, three of the four greatest tyrants of the 20th Century died at home in bed of natural causes.

The greatest tyrants of the 20th Century were Vladimir I. Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, and Mao Zeodong. They punished none of those men for their many crimes. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao all died in office, peacefully. On the other hand, Hitler shot himself to evade capture by Stalin’s Red Army in 1945.

The three great Communists were not the only dictators who avoid just deaths. Such lesser monsters as Francisco Franco, Fidel Castro, and Hafez al-Assad, died peacefully while still in power.

However, a surprising number of tyrants bucked the trend and suffered appropriately grisly fates.

Dictators who died just deaths include:

Benito Mussolini

The self-proclaimed Il Duce of the new Roman Empire cheated death several times. He had survived World War I trench combat, assassination attempts, and house arrest by his own government.

Meanwhile, Mussolini had become the most hated man in Italy by serving as the leader of the Social Republic, a Nazi puppet state. One reason Mussolini was so hated was the execution of Italian citizens by fascists acting under the orders of the Nazi SS.

On 25 April 1945, Mussolini learned that the German army in Northern Italy was negotiating a surrender to the Allies. Consequently, Mussolini tried to flee to Switzerland.

Prophetically, Il Duce was more afraid of the Italian people than the Allied armies. To cover his escape, Mussolini disguised himself as a member of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). The dictator and his mistress Clara Petacci joined a convoy of Germans fleeing north.

On 27 April 1945, Italian partisans (leftwing guerrillas) stopped the convoy in the town of Dongo. The partisans recognized Mussolini and took him prisoner. The next day, 28 April 1945, partisans killed Mussolini and Petacci with a machine gun.

On 29 April 1945, a truck dumped Mussolini and Petacci’s bodies in the middle of Piazzale Loreto, a public square in the middle of Milan. Mobs of angry citizens soon appeared and began throwing garbage at Mussolini’s body and kicking the corpse. One woman fired five rounds from a pistol into Mussolini’s body and yelled “Five shots for my five assassinated sons!” Nazis or fascists had killed the sons.

Eventually, the crowd hung the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci, and other fascists up in a gas station. They hung the bodies up so it would be easier to throw garbage at them.

Ironically, American troops rescued Mussolini’s body by ordering Italians to take it to the morgue. The body was buried in an unmarked grave but dug up by fascists. The fascists hid Mussolini’s body in a monastery for 11 years. In 1957, the Italian government gave the body to Mussolini’s widow, who placed it in the family crypt.

Interestingly, Mussolini’s demise prompted Hitler’s suicide. Radio reports of Il Duce’s fate prompted the Fuhrer to shoot himself and his wife Eva Braun. The same reports inspired another notorious Nazi; Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, to kill himself and his family.

Nicolae Ceaușescu

Ceaușescu was one of the few Communist dictators to face trial and punishment for his crimes.

Ceaușescu became the Soviet puppet dictator of Romania in 1965. Ceaușescu’s government was among the most brutal and oppressive in the world. By the 1980s, Romania was bankrupt, people were going hungry and everybody hated Ceaușescu.

By 1989, a bankrupt Soviet Union had withdrawn its support from its Warsaw Pact puppets in Eastern Europe. However, Ceaușescu thought he was immune to history because of his charade of running an “independent Communist state.”

In November 1989, the Romanian Communist Party “reelected” Ceaușescu to a new five-year term. Shortly afterwards riots and demonstrations broke out around the country. By 17 December 1989, security forces and the military were killing people in the streets.

On 20 December 1989, Ceaușescu delivered a TV speech in which he blamed the violence on outside agitators. On 21 December 1989, Ceaușescu held a giant pep rally in Bucharest to shore up support for his socialist revolution.

Ceaușescu began making a speech and became shocked when the crowd booed and jeered. Fearing that the crowd would turn into a lynch mob, Ceaușescu ran away. By 22 December 1989, revolution broke out in cities across Romanian. The army soon mutinied, leaving Ceaușescu with no government.

Ceaușescu tried making another speech and found himself pelted with stones by the crowd. The dictator and his wife tried to escape by helicopter. However, the army forced helicopter down and local police arrested the Ceaușescus.

On 25 December 1989, the new Romanian government National Salvation Front convened a secret court. The court tried and convicted Ceaușescu and his wife for corruption and genocide. The sentence was death.

Hundreds of soldiers volunteered for the firing squad to execute Ceaușescu. The firing squad lined the Ceaușescus against a wall and shot them. Interestingly, Ceaușescu sang the Communist anthem The Internationale as soldiers fired.

In 2010, forensic scientists exhumed Ceaușescu’s body and used DNA testing to identify the remains. The DNA test showed the body was that of Ceaușescu. In recent years, the Romanian government has rejected calls by Ceaușescu’s family and Communists to move the dictator’s body to a mausoleum or a church.

One thing that died with Ceaușescu was the Romanian Communist Party, efforts to revive the organization have failed.

Manuel Noriega

Bizarrely, the downfall of another Cold War puppet Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega came at the same time as Ceaușescu’s end. Like Ceaușescu, Noriega thought his alliance with a superpower made him immune to political change and history.

Interestingly, it was America’s War on Drugs, the popular anger at widespread illegal drug abuse in the United States that doomed Noriega. One of the most abused drugs was cocaine, and Noriega was making a fortune by taking bribes from cocaine smugglers.

Hypocritically, Noriega pretended to help the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) interdict drug shipments. In other words, Noriega was betraying smugglers; who did not pay his bribes, to the DEA. Additionally, there were rumors Noriega was taking money from intelligence agencies, including the Soviet KGB.

By 1988, Noriega’s corruption had become so blatant that federal grand juries in Miami and Tampa indicted him. Noriega’s downfall began in 1989 when he annulled the results of Panama’s general election. Noriega refused to publish the results of the election because his party had lost.

The election put US President George H. W. Bush (R-Texas) and Noriega on a collision course. Bush recognized Noriega’s opponent, Guillermo Endara, as Panama’s president.

Noriega; however, believed he was safe from American arms because he had worked with the CIA. In addition, Noriega’s Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) secured a critical American transportation corridor; the Panama Canal.

In December 1989, Noriega made two critical mistakes. First the Panamanian general assembly declared war on the United States on 15 December 1989. The next day, members of the Panamanian defenses forces killed a US Marine Lieutenant Robert Paz and beat up four other US officers.

In December 1989, Noriega made two critical mistakes. First the Panamanian general assembly declared war on the United States on 15 December 1989. The next day, members of the Panamanian defenses forces killed a US Marine Lieutenant Robert Paz and beat up four other US officers.

US Navy SEALS blocked Noriega’s escape by blowing up his yacht , a PDF gunboat, and private plane. Noriega fled to the Vatican Embassy, where US troops tried to force him out by playing loud rock music. Noriega eventually surrendered to the Americans.

They shipped Noriega to Miami, where a federal court charged him with racketeering, drug trafficking, and money laundering. After appeals, Noriega went on trial in September 1991, the trial ended in April 1992.

During the trial, Noriega claimed he was a really a CIA agent, whom the US government had paid $10 million. The jury ignored his claims. They convicted Noriega of money laundering, drug trafficking, and racketeering. The court sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

During the trial, Noriega claimed he was a really a CIA agent, whom the US government had paid $10 million. The jury ignored his claims. They convicted Noriega of money laundering, drug trafficking, and racketeering. The court sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

In 1994, a Panamanian court tried Noriega in absentia and convicted him of the murder of political opponent Hugo Spadafora. They sentenced the former dictator to 20 years in a Panamanian prison.

In 1999, a French court convicted Noriega of money laundering by buying luxury apartments in Paris. French courts eventually threw out the conviction because they convicted Noriega in absentia. The French government demanded Noriega’s extradition.

Noriega stayed in US prison, even though his sentence ended in 2007 while fighting extradition in court. In 2010, the US Supreme Court refused to hear Noriega’s appeal, and they extradited the dictator to France. On 7 July 2010, the Tribunal Correctionnel de Paris sentenced Noriega to seven years in prison.

On 23 September 2011, a French court ordered Noriega extradited to Panama to face justice in his homeland. Noriega remained in Panamanian prisons until 23 January 2017. On that day, the government announced the dictator was suffering from a brain tumor. Noriega died on 29 May 2017 at 83.

While serving time in prison for murder n in 2014, Noriega sued the video game company Activison for portraying him as a criminal in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. A US Court dismissed Noriega’s lawsuit.

Another interesting similarity between Noriega and Ceaușescu is that the institutions that spawned them did not survive the Cold War. Panama’s government abolished the Panamanian Defense Forces in 1994, so it disappeared like Ceaușescu’s Romanian Communist Party.

Saddam Hussein

The Butcher of Baghdad Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was another swaggering Cold War operator, who met a just fate.

Like Noriega and Ceaușescu, the Iraqi dictator tried to work both sides of the Cold War to bolster his power and line his pockets. Saddam bought weapons from the Soviets and claimed to be an American ally.

In power, Saddam was known for his luxurious lifestyle and his massacres. Saddam’s first action in power in 1979 was to murder hundreds of high-ranking members of his own Ba’ath Party.

In one gruesome incident Saddam ordered Ba’ath leaders to execute other members of their own party. Historians estimate that Saddam’s regime killed around 250,000 Iraqis.

Sadly, Saddam would probably still be alive and in power; and probably killing people, if he had left his neighbors alone. Saddam’s downfall began in 1990 when he ordered the invasion of Kuwait.

Saddam’s claim was that Kuwait was part of Iraq. However, the real reason for the invasion could have been to seize Kuwait’s oil so he could sell it to pay Iraq’s debts. During the invasion, Saddam’s forces pillaged Kuwait.

The invasion prompted condemnation from the UN Security Council and an American led invasion. During the First Gulf War, Saddam’s army was exposed as useless, over 175,000 Iraqis were taken prisoner and over 85,000 killed.

Most of the world seemed to forget about Saddam after he accepted UN control over Iraq. One person who did not forget about Saddam was US President George W. Bush (R-Texas).

Bush was the son of President George H.W. Bush (R-Texas) the man who had ordered the 1991 invasion. A charge against Saddam was that he had conspired to Bush.

In 2003, George W. Bush organized a second invasion of Iraq with the aim of eliminating Saddam. Ironically, Saddam who had committed many crimes was removed because of a crime he did not commit. To explain, Bush justified his invasion of Iraq with false claims of weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons). Neither UN inspectors nor American officers found any chemical weapons in Iraq. Saddam had destroyed them all after the First Gulf War.

Another American led force easily overran Iraq and destroyed Saddam’s government. The Iraqi Army was easily defeated. Saddam himself went underground.

On 13 December 2003, American troops found Saddam hiding in a farmhouse near his home town of Tikrit. The once feared dictator was alone and unshaven.

On 30 June 2004, the Americans handed Saddam over to the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Special Tribunal put Saddam on trial. Ironically, Saddam’s lawyers claimed their client was still President of Iraq. The Tribunal found Saddam guilty on 5 November 2004.

Iraqi authorities hanged Saddam on 30 December 2006, the first day of Eid-al-Adha. Authorities ignored Saddam’s request to be executed by firing squad out of respect for his supposed role as a general in the Iraqi Army.

Notably, Saddam’s execution was one of the first events recorded by a mobile phone camera. The footage created controversy when it showed the Iraqis watching the execution were jeering and insulting their former dictator. Some reports indicate Saddam’s body was stabbed after his death.

They buried Saddam in his family plot in Al-Awja on 31 December 2003. The dictator’s body was placed near the graves of his two sons who had died in a firefight with American troops.

At his execution, Saddam proved to be prophetic. An observer reportedly told Saddam “Go to hell!” Saddam replied “The hell that is Iraq?”

Sadly, history proved Saddam correct. Iraq descended into hell because of a bungled American attempt to build democracy and Iranian interference. 18 years after Saddam’s demise, Iraq is still in chaos, racked by civil war, and partially occupied by American forces. The Iraq Body Count website estimates that 288,000 Iraqis have been killed since 2003.

One casualty of Saddam was Arab nationalism. The United States destroyed Arab nationalism by showing that Iraq was incapable of defending itself by easily defeating Saddam’s massive army. A consequence of that was to drive many people in the Middle East to radical Islamic organizations such as ISIS which claimed to be fighting for a pure Moslem state.

Few people created more misery than Saddam Hussein. In power, he slaughtered and tortured tens of thousands of people and waged senseless wars. In defeat, Saddam condemned Iraq to hell.

Muammar Gaddafi or Moammar Gaddafi

Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi was a swaggering and egomaniac who was a thorn in the side of several American presidents.

Ironically, Gaddafi was born in Libya when it was part of Mussolini’s Second Roman Empire. In power, Gaddafi became a later day Mussolini dressing up in elaborate uniforms and giving himself grandiose titles such as Brotherly Leader of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

In the United States, Gaddafi had a reputation as a sponsor of terrorism. The colonel was often parodied in America media. Although he was a dictator Gaddafi claimed to be a political theorist and promoted his dogma the Third International Theory.

Gaddafi claimed the Third International Theory rejected both Western capitalism and Soviet Communism. However, Gaddafi himself loved both Western oil money and Russian weapons.

The end for Gaddafi came during the Arab Spring of 2011 when protests against the Brotherly Leader began. Gaddafi accused the protesters of being drugged and members of al-Qeada.

Fighting soon broke out between rebels and Gaddafi’s Army. A full scale civil war soon developed between Gaddafi and the National Transition Council (NTC). The nation of Qatar sent hundreds of troops to support the NTC and France and the United Arab Emirates provided weapons.

By April 2011 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was conducting air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces. NATO’s intervention proved decisive in the war, because its mostly French, British, and American planes destroyed most of Gaddafi’s heavy weapons. Without the firepower Gaddafi was doomed.

Gaddafi’s fate was eerily similar to Mussolini’s. By September 2011, Gaddafi’s state was reduced to a few towns in Western Libya. With NTC forces closing in, Gaddafi and his followers fled in a convoy on 20 October 2011.

Gaddafi’s fate was eerily similar to Mussolini’s. By September 2011, Gaddafi’s state was reduced to a few towns in Western Libya. With NTC forces closing in, Gaddafi and his followers fled in a convoy on 20 October 2011.

Soon after, the militia found the injured Brotherly Leader hiding in a drain pipe. Like Mussolini, Gaddafi was attacked by his own people. Militiamen beat, stabbed, and bayoneted Gaddafi. Gaddafi was taken to a nearby town where they pronounced the dictator dead.

There is some controversy about the cause of Gaddafi’s death. Official reports claim rebels shot the colonel. Unofficial accounts claim rebels stabbed Gaddafi to death. The rebels also killed Gaddafi’s sons and up to 66 of his supporters.

In yet another similarity to Mussolini, the NTC put Gaddafi’s body on display in a public market where the people could see and abuse their former leader’s corpse. In a final similarity to Mussolini, they buried Gaddafi’s body in a secret unmarked grave in the desert.

Gaddafi’s death plunged Libya into hell and chaos, just Saddam’s death destroyed Iraq. America’s CATO Institute notes the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi “wrecked Libya for a generation.”

As in Iraq, the dictator’s removal unleashed religious and ethnic tensions that had been under control for generations. The civil war still rages with a weak unity government battling former Gaddafi general Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Terrorist organizations including ISIS and Al-Qeada are active in the country. The governments of Turkey, France, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Turkey, Italy, and Qatar have forces in the country supporting different sides. Russian and Sudanese mercenaries are also present.

Gaddafi’s grandiose dreams of a new political philosophy became a nightmare. The dictator’s grisly demise led to the destruction of the nation.

So yes, some dictators meet a just fate. Unfortunately, the dictator’s fates often unleash worse evils than those of the dead tyrants.