From Pol Pot to Darfur

On the 25th of April each year, Australians  commemorate ANZAC day, the landing of Australian and New Zealand Troops at Gallipoli in 1915. The spirit of this day – as suggested by the official war historian C.E.W Bean – both stand and stood for “reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat”. It also encompasses the laughter, the love and pride of life which fits most Australians as well. Anzac was a terrible day in history with about 265000 casualties on Allied forces. including 7594 Australian soldiers.

It’s a day indeed not to forget and for Australians it is an important day. Like D-day and other battlefields were many people lost their lives. John Masefield wrote in his tribute about those bold, laughing soldiers, -“they seemed to be of one race, for all of them had something of the same bearing, and the same look of humorous swift action.” On an other occasion John Masefield made a tribute on the heritage of English universities, being places where ignorance has been despises and where people strive to know, “where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see. ” Unfortunately we can’t say that ignorance has been despises as the  “modern” world still builds on the legacy of genocide and an increasing ignorance of human rights, – besides controlling most of the world’s oil, most of the world’s weapons, most of the world’s money, and most of the world’s media. The energies of most countries are going 10 times more to either being well prepared – and eventually going to war, – rather than eliminating the chances of war with the risk of partial or total self-destruction, as being possible in the times we live today.

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Never ever nuclear powers will surrender in times of conflict without resort to those forces and this risk is growing year by year. If we look into recent history and see the level of irrationality among some of the worst tyrants, – whilst the world has made minimal efforts to stop those leaders at an early stage, – there is a real concern when any of those countries and it’s leaders have either access to nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons. I am under no illusion North Korea (with its current leadership) would be able to destroy a few nuclear power plants on the east coast of the US, if it is able to develop long-range missiles. They would have no mercy.

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Even when some countries do have nuclear weapons for not using them (“deterrent”), – other countries with less rational leaders acquire those weapons with the purpose of irrational use, if they feel fit to do so. In any significant nuclear encounter where one single nuclear explosive alone is almost 12 times the explosive force applied by all the Allied airforce during the 2nd world war,- the military encounters at Gallipoli with the losses of 265000 soldiers are only trivial with the losses then being endured, and we can’t take any pride anymore by sending our “brave soldiers” to war (being slaughtered) whilst the nations in the word have failed to take drastic actions to prevent the spreading of nuclear energy.

John Masefield if still alive in such days would despise the ignorance of not having prevented those battle fields, and the failures of the UN to end tyranny and the abuses of human rights. The problem is that some member states abuse human rights themselves and are subject to gross tyranny at a cost of their own population.

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If we consider the most evil leaders in the world we can be pleased that at least Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot are not among the living anymore, – but they were tolerated to use their powers and have never been stopped at an earlier stage, – as such preventing the misery and deaths of millions all over the world.

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Still  there have been , – and still there are many other tyrants who exercise the most brutal powers and all forms of inhumanity. Many of those people have been and still are, – tolerated on the political scene,  even within the context of the United Nations. Some of those people are suffering from serious psychopathology but are still able to keep up  in a world of increasing themselves with more and more personal wealth, ethnic cleansing and coordinating often cruel obliteration of any political opposition. Some have, – others will get in the future excess to nuclear power plants, which will enable them to join the countries with the powers to use nuclear weapons eventually.

Needless to say what power graving inhumane leaders could provoke in the future, if the United Nations and the Global Community does not learn the lessons from the past and deal with those leaders at an early stage.  This should have happened with e.g. Pol Pot and Idi Amin, the last with a killer record of about 400000 and the first with even 3 million Cambodian’s being massacred under his responsibility. Pol Pot with his Khmer Rouge “revolution” has been (per head) possibly the deadliest in Asian history, and the world watched it happening…

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Terror and paranoia reigns at more places around the world, and early intervention would have prevented the ramifications of some of those brutal monsters.

To give a glimpse only and starting to speak about North Korea, – we all know the dangers associated with Kim Joni -il,  – the leader of this poverty-stricken and possibly one of the most isolated countries in the world. He is most unpredictable and acquired nuclear weapons ready to be used. Actually he is known as the world worst dictator now. His problem is the combination of personal paranoia,  his deadly weapons and his addiction to Hennessy cognac ( his yearly alcohol bill is over $200000,-). For many other countries apart of his own, – this  is a potential  lethal combination with the wrong decisions being made, despite diplomatic efforts to control the situation as long as it can be controlled.  A report compiled by Frederick L . Coolidge and Daniel L Segal (with help of a South Korean psychiatrist) concluded that the current North Korean leader has similar personality disorders as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein (sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic and schizoid). Although many stories about this man are perhaps somewhat exaggerated perhaps, – needless to say that he is a most dangerous commander of the “Korean People’s Army“, the 4th largest in the world. Two hundred thousand of North Korean people have been imprisoned as due to opposition. This country with this leader is able to create a nightmare scenario.

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In Iran we still have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is the leader who declared the Holocaust to be a lie and a myth, stating that the Jewish Nation should be wiped from the map. Later he denied this,  saying that he was not “passing judgement” on the Holocaust and that he “respects Jews very much.” The population in Iran has increased quite significant but has major problems in terms of unemployment and inflation. Obviously there are powers behind this President, but there is not enough clarity. The records on human rights are notorious and the nuclear ambitions are  potentially most dangerous. Having said this in a 2009 interview with reporter Ann Curry on the question whether the President of Iran would rule out an Iranian nuclear bomb in the future, – he responded: >”We have no need for nuclear weapons.” <->”Without such weapons we are very much able to defend ourselves.” <……Though  he may prove likely not to be consistent in his projections,  at least he is not as irrational as the North Korean leader. Being however both a controversial figure in and outside Iran, – Human Rights Watch has been quite explicit about tortures and mistreating dissidents. There is no tolerance for peaceful protest and gatherings. Within the context of the Middle East dynamics he proved to support Hizbullah against Israel and in October he did visit Lebanon. It would seem he is buying time within the Middle East dynamics.

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The current leader of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has continued his family’s Ba’athist regime and rule of Syria. His secret police as part of normal routine imprisons, tortures and kills those people who disagree or speak out against his regime. In an interview with ABC news he stated that: “We don’t have such things as political prisoners.” Assad has been  logistically supporting & sponsoring various militant opposing groups against Israel as he is “anti-Israel”, though appears perhaps interested in a “peace treaty” today, – but not real peace. Besides this he is “anti – West” as well and a close ally of Iran. Large protests against the regime earlier this year have been crushed. His economic policies are in the range of gross neglect of his own country. Family members are holding key government positions to secure his power base.

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In Zimbabwe there is still President Robert Mugabe (the world’s 3rd nightmare dictator). Zimbabwe’s economic fall down is one of the worst being known, together with a dreadful record on human rights. Mugabe’s ruling party inflicted militias to support his campaign to hold on power during the 2008 elections. Vote counts were falsified Foreign Journalists were chased out of the country or detained. Supporters of the opposite party were either beaten or killed by Mugabe loyalists, using relentless torture methods being widespread documented. The South African President Tabu Mbeki watched in silence whilst the murder rate peaked, but brokered under international pressure a deal with the leader of the  Movement for Democratic Change (Morgan Tsvangirai), and the last became Prime Minister, – however under Mugabe’s rule. The process of white farmers being expelled from their properties is still ongoing. Mogabe’s regime and followers are not less than a gang of murderers and thieves, without any moral bearing and the majority who did support him should be sent to an international criminal tribunal, once there will be an M.D.C led government. Mugabe has been President since the early 1980ties and it is amazing that he still holding this position, in a country with so much bloodshed. Neither the dynamics in the Commonwealth, nor the dynamics in the United Nations or South Africa have been able to stop this man holding onto power.

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In Eritrea the leader still is Isaias Afewerki. Since the date he came into power in May 1993 he has been responsible of shutting down all human rights organisations, besides removing all international development agencies from the country. Elections have been canceled and Amnesty International did report excessive human rights violations, like in other countries. A war looms with Ethiopia and the government is under suspicion of supporting terrorism, hence pending economic privation, – despite 2/3 of the populations receiving food aid. Border conflicts and a poor economy are ongoing issues, besides frequent reports on human rights abuses.

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President Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994. Apart from being known for his herbs and banana cure for Aids, he is known to have decapitated gay’s. Not to mention the documented torture and imprisonment of dozens of journalists and political opponents who disappeared from the scene. In round up’s traditional “witches” in his country were taken from their hut’s and villages by bus to secret locations. Here they were forced to drink hallucinates causing terrible pains with provoked and mindless killings. Gambia might be the smallest country on mainland Africa but has a very large record of human right atrocities and President Jammeh counts Iran’s President being a close ally. Both countries have much military and trades ties. Hopefully there will be pending signs of a fracture in the junta leading to it collapse, and if this collapse could be supported it would only create a more favourable situation. However if Iran would export nuclear technology eventually to this country, not much imagination is required of what would happen next.

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In Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov became the leader after the declared independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.During a peaceful protest in Andijan in 2005, Karimov’s police murdered 750 civilians. Since the 90ties he has jailed  at least over 8000 Uzbeks for “Islāmic extremism”, with him having warm connections with the US when President Bush was in power. The war on terror as it would seem, allowed the West to turn a blind eye to all sorts of human rights atrocities (in which thousands have been killed) as long those countries were supportive towards anti terror policies of President Bush. Opponents of  this particular  regime and the democratic movement are nullified and President Karimov blames any uprise on “terrorist groups”. Karimov has been selected already as one of the world’s worst dictator’s because of his tactic’s on torture, media censorship and fake elections, which are notorious. Craig Murray, the British embassador from 2002 to 2004 in this country details in his memoirs the financial corruption and human right’s abuses, which he encountered during his term in office.

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Sudan’s dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for both war crimes and crimes against humanity within the committed Darfur genocide. He came to power in 1989 when he led a group of officers in a coup that ousted the Sadiq al – Mahdi government. The atrocities were committed during the war in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, which claimed over 300000 lives since 2003 and terrible mass displacements, – apart from torture, sexual violence and rape. An international arrest warrant (10 counts of genocide & war crimes) will be  issued in the dictator’s  name. However the regime may retaliate now against aid workers and peacekeeping soldiers in Darfur. International relief efforts could well be compromised resulting in more suffering among ordinary Sudanese people. Providing justice could have implications for peace keeping operations. Violence still continues in Sudan and the transition to a more peaceful civil society will prove to be a complicated process. Key transitional justice issues are envisioned already by Dr Mohammed Abdallah  Aisa, Physician and former Professor of Medicine at L Fasher University in Darfur. He has been much involved in the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and torture. Civil society in Darfur needs to be involved in crucial conversations about transitional justice to be well equipped to lead, once a peace agreement is in place.

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The list does not stop with this. One last example:

Than Shwe ( one of the world’s most terrible dictator’s) has been the military dictator of the ruling junta in Birma, but I am led to believe that since yesterday his role has somewhat reduced, – however he is still a very influential background figure. He imprisoned, tortured and executed Buddhist monks, opponents and even journalists. Birma is one of the 10 poorest countries on earth and during the late 80ties the “Democracy Summer” has been squashed with murdering thousands of demonstrators. The Human Rights world report in 2005 describes this country as one of the most repressive countries in Asia.  A country excelling in all forms of terror among its own people, besides being listed as possibly the 3rd most corrupt nation on earth. Mind you if such a nation, or any of the others would get access to nuclear power plants.

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Unrest is going on now at various levels in Middle East countries and China, where there is a call for more democratic reforms and freedom. Human rights have been often compromised in those countries as well.

Countries are different and follow different patterns of processes leading eventually to more democratic reforms. On the one hand we may hope that democracy and justice will prevail in those countries were the walls of oppression are still high. On the other hand it is not sure how many massacres those countries will have to endure.  However, keeping the world stable and safe it is better to start to make strategies for democratic reforms as at the end of the day they are legitimate and whatever happens they can’t be stopped. Delayed perhaps, but not stopped. Crushing the movements for reforms might be successful for some years but the resistance will grow and grow and trying to stop those movements will jeopardise the general stability and economy of each country trying to do this. Reconciliation at the end might be even more difficult as atrocities will not be easily forgotten.

Processes as they evolved eventually in South Africa with the election eventually of President Mandela in the 90ties are perhaps not everywhere applicable, but still the transition eventuated in a peaceful way where civil war would have been the alternative. Where leaders of countries like e.g.  China are able to make choices for the better of their country, it might be wise to do so as in the long term it will serve the purpose of China to be a peaceful super power in the world, with much leverage with surrounding countries in the region.

The amount of unstable countries on this world with oppressive regimes and human rights abuses is quite staggering at the moment and the dangers on escalating violence are quite clear as e.g. illustrated in Libia. The UN did step in eventually in this area but the options in other areas are quite limited as veto rights will be exercised by other member states. This at the background of an increased number of  nuclear powers makes the world unstable and far from safe, with the experience that some leaders have the capacity to respond in a total irrational way due to the personality structure of some leaders themselves, – holding on to power with everything it takes, – even self-destruction.

The modern Hitler’s. Stalin’s and Pol pot’s may dominate the world if united efforts from within the UN do fail to stop the most dangerous people at an early stage, with genocides worse than the killing fields in Cambodia and Vietnam. The liberation movements can’t be terminated as the currents will get stronger and stronger, so that the mightiest wall’s of oppression will fall. This is what the late Senator Robert F Kennedy once said on a tour in South Africa, – at the time this country had a most oppressive regime. The point is that he is right, but the question is at which cost if the UN does not become more proactive in dealing with those countries who are at risk.

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As Elie Wiesel once commented – surviving both the Nazi Auschwitz death camp and Buchenwald: >”Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far?”<

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Democracy is not “the prescription” for no trouble, but with proper balance of powers being constructed within the constitution, allowing constitutional freedom of press and an obligation to preserve human rights, – it is at least the form of government allowing change if so required.

Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/on-the-issue-of-human-trafficking/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

9 thoughts on “From Pol Pot to Darfur”

  1. Hello Paul:
    Thanks for sharing this very informative and clarifiying post. It is a good reminder of the current nexus of individual psychopathology and the development of political systems that reinforce this kind of leadership behavior. We may not be able to prevent individual pyschopathologies from developing, but we should certainly be able to deny them access to political power by creating systems of governance, both national and supra-national, that weed them out before they become dangerous to humanity.

    Like

  2. Hello,I love to find out more about this subject. I appreciate you for writing From Pol Pot to Darfur We dream of things that never were and say: “Why not?”.

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