May 17, 2007

Dictators of the World, Unite!

…onto one website, that is!

While looking up info on Nicolae Ceaucescu I encountered the “Dictator of the Month” website. A rather unique idea for a website, Dictator of the Month has featured a different dictator every month starting in August of 2001 with Enver Hoxha. This month is Nicolae Ceaucescu, one of my favorite dictators. This is partly because he and his wife were so bizarrely out of touch with reality during their trial after they were overthrown; I remember hearing their translated comments on NPR when I was in college.

Ceaucescu was popular for his defiance of the Soviet Union. In 1966 he banned abortion and contraception, which drove up deaths and serious injury for clandestine abortion (serves ‘em right, eh?). During the Reagan years, Ceaucescu faced an orphanage crisis as a result of the increasing problem of AIDS, a disease that he, like Reagan, failed to acknowledge. And he went down hill from there into complete disconnectedness from his unpopularity and… well, from reality.

If you can’t go more than a month without reading a detailed summary of one of the dictators of the world, Dictator of the Month will more than accommodate you while you seek professional help. For extra fun, read it in German!

Posted by James at May 17, 2007 7:37 PM
Create Social Bookmark Links
Comments

Looks like 2004 they covered my two favorites - the ones whose reigns overlapped important portions of my childhood - one right after the other. Pol Pot and Idi Amin.

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2007 10:11 AM

Yes, when I think of dictators, I think of Idi. If you haven't seen "The Last King of Scotland," do.

However, Pol Pot was mentioned in a song, so maybe he ranks higher? ("Holiday in Cambodia" by the Dead Kennedys)

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 10:38 AM

I think Redbox is carrying "The Last King of Scotland" right now in case anyone is interested and doesn't want to pay more than a buck.

You can even check via there website to see which is the closest redbox to your location where they currently stock any particular film: http://www.redbox.com/

You can also reserve it.

Forest Whitaker is great in everything. He dominated last season's "The Shield." looks like he's going to be in a cop film with Hugh Laurie (and Keanu Reeves):
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421073/

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 11:12 AM

Oy, what a combination!

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 11:34 AM

So, are Julie and I the only people with favorite dictators?

Nobody out there with a soft spot for Slobodan Milosevic? Found dead in prison is a poetic way to go for a dictator.

Or how about Pakistan's own Pervez Musharraf? Military dictators are especially warm and fuzzy, if you like that sort of thing.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 11:39 AM

Um, hello?

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 11:42 AM

Oh, sorry. Were you for Idi or Pol Pot?

I have to give Pol Pot props for taking out those damned colledge inter-lectuals! People with glasses! Beards! Left-handers!

Gotta love Pol Pot. Gotta.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 11:48 AM

I heard you, Patti. :)

I will check out the RedBox for King O'Scotland.

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2007 11:53 AM

Idi Amin. I was anxious to see "The Last King of Scotland" because Amin was a curiosity of my childhood ("obsession" is perhaps a bit too strong).

Nevertheless, I think my abiding interest in Idi Amin disturbed Bob.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 11:54 AM

I was always a little more interested in Pol Pot, but for exactly the same reason... when I got the whole story on him I was more horrified than ever. What a guy.

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2007 11:59 AM

Whenever I think of Pol Pot, I get a picture of hords of skulls lined up in rows.

You know they photographed everyone before they shot them, right? Chilling. Truly. I just reviewed this site and my body is still getting chills:

http://www.chgs.umn.edu/Visual___Artistic_Resources/Cambodian_Genocide/cambodian_genocide.html

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 12:03 PM

Will nobody get behind Augusto Pinochet? Stopped runaway inflation and converted Chilean system to capitalism.

And "disappeared" thousands of his leftist opponents, and people who spoke out against him. And torture? Dick Cheney would love this guy.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 12:08 PM

Oh, hell, if we're going to talk about "disappearing" people, we have to go back to Stalin.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 12:09 PM

Also, Sting wrote a song about Pinochet entitled "They Dance Alone."

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 12:14 PM

Well, on the scale of murderous dictators who are mentioned in song, Pol Pot trumps Pinochet.

And, if we're talking sheer number of murdered, Stalin trumps Pinochet.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 12:23 PM

You're going to dis Pinoche?

Oh no you didn't!

Posted by: James at May 18, 2007 12:30 PM

Yeah, that and the whole serial killer thing.

I mean when you are reading you're 4th or 5th comic book about serial killers and put it down and say "I have to stop readin these they're too disturbing" you might have a "thing".

Too disturbing?

Duh!

You're reading a COMIC BOOK about a SERIAL KILLER!

I don't know about you but I don't want to mix anything about comic with anything about killer.

Favorite dictator? Hmmmm... Does Napoleon count. I'm not really impressed by the body counts but rather by lack of body counts. Can we think of some good dicators who didn't wipe out huge sections of their poulations? Napoleon tended to concentrate on the populations of other countries (through invasion). Not that that's much better. Question is was he really a dictator. I think he was but I don't know enough of the history of the political side to know for sure.


Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at May 18, 2007 12:44 PM

I don't know about you but I don't want to mix anything about comic with anything about killer.

And yet, here you are, participating in a discussion of which dictator is your favorite. ; )

As for your question, I think you can be a dictator without being a mass murderer, so yes, Napoleon would count.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 12:50 PM

After all I plan on being a benevolent dictator.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at May 18, 2007 12:50 PM

I'm partial to George W. Bush. He's got the "ignoring the will of the people and his government" thing nailed.

Posted by: Mike at May 18, 2007 1:16 PM

I meant was he truly a dictator or were there other people in power that shared his leading the country at the time? I suspect he was a dictator, he certainly ruled the military. I just don't really know if he had an iron fist over running France itself.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at May 18, 2007 1:26 PM

Hmm, interesting question. He declared himself emperor, but I think he let his family run the government of France and of other countries he had conquered.

Posted by: Julie at May 18, 2007 1:46 PM

Well he put them in place as the rulers. Whether they actually ran the government or not is another question. His brother was pretty incompetent in Spain and the generals really ran the country. I think Napoleon himself was too busy fighting wars to worry much about what was going on at home.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at May 18, 2007 1:54 PM

I am quite pleased to know people who can carry on discussions such as this.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 18, 2007 2:28 PM

Castro's not my favorite, but the article about him is particularly well written. (I only mention it because some of them are much more detailed than others.)

Posted by: Julie at May 19, 2007 2:38 AM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved