Friends, is your dictator becoming stale? Is there a fading expiration date stylishly tattooed above the tan line of his Speedos? Are you struggling to find EPA-approved and humane methods of disposal? This is one of the ongoing problems mankind has faced since Grog and his clan got sick and tired of Thog’s pre-emptive wars to snag all the hot Cave Babes.
In Cro-Magnon days nobody was too upset when the Grog clan bashed Thog in the head with a rock and dragged his carcass out for the hyenas to pick clean. But that solution just ain’t kosher today. In the 21st century, one must be subtle.
So, you got your worn out dictator taking up space in the rumpus room. Surrounded by empty cans of Lone Star beer, your expired dictator keeps trying to place long distance phone calls to disgraced world leaders and the TV is tuned to a 24/7 televangelist 24/7. And to top it all off… you guessed it… he’s not paying rent or even helping out! He expects you to feed and pamper him! What a load of codswallop!
Time to get out the handy dandy guide to: Disposing of Unwanted Dictators (a work in progress).
You know, this guide will be essential reading in January 2009 when, God willing, America just might have two has-been dictators ready for the mothballs.
So what are the options of disposal? Remember your Three Es: Eternal Imprisonment, Exile and Execution. How about we study some examples from history to help choose the right method for you?
Yanking The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius off the bookshelf will be a good start. Dictator-disposal was perfected by the Romans. Members of Congress might want to read this book… if they ever read anything.
Hm… stabbing, poisoning, stabbing, poisoning, poisoning, stabbing. I sense a trend. Well, those methods will get the job done. However, violent methods are against the law in these "kinder, gentler" times, and the authors of this column do not subscribe to them. Sorry, NO killings. We do not want to hear the words: "Et tu, Pelosi?" uttered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Sad to say, history shows us that item one on the agenda of statewide spring-cleaning has been to execute worn out dictator. Lenin had Tsar Nicholas II and his family whacked. Hitler would have been drawn and quartered had he not taken the easy way out. Oh sure… go ruin the angry mob’s fun. Doing it bella figura, Italy gave Mussolini a public execution worthy of a man of his stature.
Even sadder, today, this practice still has devoted adherents. America’s former comrade in arms, Saddam Hussein, was hung before he could confess to Larry King the gripping details of his close, personal relationship with Donald Rumsfeld and George H.W. Bush. Among those with secrets to keep, execution has always been a popular and effective solution. Plus it can boost your network’s ratings!
But let’s not hold grudges and get all worked up in a lather for vengeance. We’re above such barbaric actions.
Can’t we all just get along?
So what’s the alternative? Option number two is public humiliation and exile. Usually this works pretty well but there is always the threat that your maniacal despot will return and cause a ruckus like Napoleon Bonaparte, or Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, that’s a chance you’ll have to take.
Humiliation failed to work on Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976. In 1970 Wilson was hit by an egg thrown by a youthful Conservative demonstrator. With a let-them-eat-cake insouciance, Wilson is reported to have "shrugged off the incident as a sign the cost of living could not be as high as the Tories were suggesting if people could afford to throw raw eggs." And in 1974 he was back in power for another two years.
Sometimes you have to use force. And loud music.
"Pineapple Face," a.k.a. Manuel Noriega, the military dictator of Panama, used to bask in the protective glow of the CIA because he had been, writes Philip Jacobson of the First Post, "a long-time CIA ‘asset’ and knew plenty of dirty secrets." Indeed, on Noriega’s watch, Panama was the host country to the CIA School for Dictators of which establishment young Manuel was named an "outstanding" graduate. When in 1985 Noriega was no longer useful to the Americans, President George H. W. Bush sent troops to Panama and only killed 500 Panamanians in his successful effort to take away Noriega’s "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Sentenced to U.S. Federal Prison in 1990 to 40 years on a charge of money laundering and drug trafficking, Noriega hoped that after paying his debt to society he could retire peacefully to Panama. The most recent news is that "states are lining up to jail Noriega," and that the French government gets the next whack.
Regarding unusual means of humiliating and capturing dictators, the method used by Bush the First on Noriega must rank as an innovation in dictator disposal technology. When Noriega attempted to evade capture by seeking asylum in the Apostolic Nunciature in Panama, U.S. "psy-ops" set up huge speakers outside the Holy See’s embassy. From these were pumped out loud broadcasts of choice satanic rock music like Guns and Roses’ "Welcome to the Jungle," Billy Idol’s "Flesh for Fantasy," Twisted Sister’s "We’re Not Gonna Take It," and other family favorites all the better "to allow delicate negotiations to continue inside without being overheard by the press," writes Herbert Friedman who was one of the celebrants of "Operation Just Cause."
Still… there are many examples of dictators being kicked out and finding safe haven. Sparing the Roman Senate the fuss and bother, Emperor Tiberius was kind enough to exile himself. He moved to the island of Capri in order to concentrate on the finer things of life… like wanton debauchery. What a guy! Were he running for office today, he might just get my vote.
In 1964, the Politburo led by Leonid I. Brezhnev simply pensioned off their shoe-thumping embarrassment, Nikita Khrushchev. How sad. One day you’re leader of the Communist world and the next you’re a pensioner living modestly in Moscow. Well, stuff happens. At least "he was voted out of office, not shot.u201D In those lonely retirement years, Khrushchev wrote his memoirs. Retired dictators do need time to work on their memoirs. Even though memoirs often go unread, memoir writing is recommended by nine out of ten leading psychotherapists to maintain the all-important fantasy-life of aging dictators.
But in most cases, we can’t count on such wisdom from or good luck for our dictators. Those that are not assassinated or shot by an Army firing squad tend to stick to office like a turd blossom to the sole of your waffle stompers. Most strongmen have to be handed their hat and then drop kicked into the alley by the "security staff."
A dictator may find sanctuary in a friendly country. In 1979, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the deposed Shah of Iran, was welcomed in Egypt and spent some of his exile in Morocco, the Bahamas and Mexico.
The trick is to find a sympathetic sucker country to take on the burden. Hopefully, the unwanted dictator will be locked down tight in a luxuriant hoosegow so that he can’t sneak back into the land he once ruled.
Consider Mr. Parteeeeeeee, Idi Amin. After fleeing Uganda in 1979 (Gee! I wonder why), he found a safe haven in Saudi Arabia. Well, no more late night scotch on the rocks binges for him! True punishment. I’ll bet he was angling for Scotland.
Yesteryear’s punishments of exile and eternal imprisonment sure sound tempting considering the dictators we have today. Wouldn’t you love to clamp an Iron Mask on George W. Bush (that’ll solve his speech impediment), before tossing him into a Bastille-like cavern? But dreams of a dank French prison are unlikely to come true. Can we trust the French now that they have their own right wing, but virile, loony in Nicolas Sarkozy? Sounds like he’s too busy right now to lock up a dictator and throw away the keys.
How about entrusting the English to incarcerate our two aging Princes of Darkness in the Tower of London? It has such a nice, central location and is suitably cold and clammy too. But the Brits may want to honor Mr. Blair with that special suite. Jolly good show mate.
I’ve got it! We Americans have our very own holding facility! It’s perfect and comes with all the amenities worthy of The Shrub and old Dead Eye! Once safely installed, our two retired dictators will live in the lap of luxury. They’ll be adorned with stylish orange leisurewear and shiny new bracelets. They will receive the pampering of daily facials, an endless supply of music and the comfort that only four cement walls can provide! And it won’t cost us a red cent. We already have a purpose-built tropical resort where "those two" will enjoy freedom from habeas corpus while being protected from the never-ending threat of terrorism. It’s a place where they can relax and enjoy their golden years in complete security.
Yes, my friends, you guessed it. I suggest the best way to dispose of America’s Double Dictatorship of Bush and Cheney is to retire them to a permanent vacation in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba! They made it what it is. They deserve it. And as an added bonus feature, with Bush and Cheney in residence, the clamor to close down Gitmo will cease.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean. Elizabeth Gyllensvard [send her mail] no longer lives in Washington D.C., and spends her time reading British history.