In late April, 1945, Italian partisans caught Italian dictator Benito
Mussolini, wearing a German Army coat and trying to escape the
advancing Allied armies in northern Italy. He was subsequently
executed by the partisans, and his body, along with those of his mistress
and more than a dozen fascist leaders were taken to nearby Milan where
they were strung up in an Esso gas station and deformed by angry local
crowds. The photo images of his brutal treatment made their way to
Berlin where the German dictator Adolf Hitler viewed them a few days
later. Vowing this would not happen to him, Hitler was reported to have
then decided to commit suicide with his long-time girlfriend, and only
their burned bodies were found by Allied soldiers a few days later.
Libyan dictator Qaddafi had been holding out in his home town of Sirte
with several of his sons and his most loyal supporters, but on Thursday
this last refuge of the 42-year totalitarian regime was overrun by
anti-Qaddafi forces, and the dictator was found hiding out from U.S.
and French bombers which had attacked his convoy attempting to flee.
He appears on videos to have been taken prisoner alive and wounded,
but shortly afterward videos show him fatally shot in the head. His
bloodied body was reportedly then dragged through the streets of Misrata,
a Libyan coastal city where his body had been taken.
The striking resemblance of Qaddafi's end to Mussolini's also brings to
mind that Libya was, during Mussolini's fascist regime, a colony of Italy.
In fact, Mussolini had used Libya as his base for attacking Ethiopia in the
late 1930's just before World War II began, and the failure of the forerunner
of the United Nations, then called the League of Nations, to come to the aid
of Ethiopia, proved to be its final failure. It did not meet again.
This time the United Nations condemned Qaddafi, but it was the old
World War I and II alliance of the the British, the French and the United
States under its NATO umbrella which provided vital air support to the
Libyan revolutionary forces that retook Libya from the Qaddafi regime.
Remaining Middle East totalitarian regimes, most notably in Iran and
Syria, should take note of what happens to most dictators in the end.
Like Tunisia and Egypt, and very soon Yemen, we do not know what kind
of governments will replace previous Arab dictators. The "Arab spring"
could quickly become another "Arab winter" if the forces of democracy
and freedom are not allowed to fill the vacuums of power that now exist
temporarily in this part of the world which has not ever known true
representative government and true freedom.
Let's hope the Libyan people, and the Egyptian and Tunisian people,
decide to stop repeating the mistakes of the past.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.