Al Assad, Ivan IV, Henry VIII and Nicholas II – born to the throne

Tensions over the situation in Syria are spilling over into Europe and the United States.  Assad and his government have moved very close to the line in the sand.  The United States and the United Nations have drawn the line; do not use chemical weapons or else.  The U. S. has been increasing its threats to Assad since Turkey asked the UN for support, fearing that Syria was ready to use chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war.  Turkey finds that threatening to its security and safety and so does the U. S.  The United Nations voted to fill Turkey’s request, sending Patriot missiles to Turkey.  The United States has not specified what it will do, but it is making it clear that it will not sit by and watch if Syria steps across that line.

There was another bit of news this week that fits into this picture for me; North Korea is going to fire a missile a couple of days before Christmas. The launch will be the second attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il’s death nearly a year ago to test a missile, the first failed. The United States believes the missiles tests are part of the development of long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.  Syria and North Korea have much in common.  Kim Jong Un and Bashar Al-Assad are rulers in a long tradition of hereditary leadership; they were both born into their roles.  Each had someone ahead of them in line for the office, but circumstance conspired to move both into the chair their fathers and grandfathers had occupied.

They also have something in common with Ivan the Terrible (IV), Henry the Eight and Nicholas II; something besides their use of torture and murder to further their whims.   They believe, as those others did, that they were predestined to rule – chosen by god as it were.  That tends to warp a person thinking.  Take the case of Nicholas, when the world and his empire was collapsing about him, he found it impossible to imagine anyone, except someone from his family, else ever governing Russia; such a thing would be a violation of the tenants  of the church and affront to god.   Rulers with the unlimited power and the backing of history and god, have nothing to hold them back.  Anything they want or want to do is theirs for the asking.

That is what I find so frightening about Assad and Kim Jong Un; they are surrounded with people that agree with everything they say.  They are not bound by the same logic and sense of consequences that bind the rest of us.  Again, I look back into history at other like them; the worse of those preordained leaders, like Ivan the Terrible sometimes slip into madness and perform unthinkable acts; others were like Henry, who just whacked off the head of a wife or two so that he could have another; some were like Nicholas, who was simply out of touch with the world of their subjects and allowed them to suffer unimaginably. They were not governed or restrained by the rules and conventions that bind people.  That makes them were very dangerous to their own country and to the world; they are institutionalized psychopaths – Jeffrey Dahmer with a crown, throne, an army and the latest weapons.

In the category of institutionalized psychopaths, I put the rulers of North Korea and Syria.  We cannot expect them to act rationally, although they may, but they are not constrained by rationality.  Of course, there are those who think the United States is in that category; but I do not, for however weak they may be there are checks on the power of the United States.  Just as there are checks on nearly every nation; there are checks on the power of Putin, not as many as we would like sometimes, but there are some.  Even the Chinese government has limitations.  There are very few places left in the world where one man can do as he wishes – and where he possesses the army and the weapons to threaten other countries in his madness.  But there are a couple and at the top of that list is North Korea and Syria.




2 Responses to “Al Assad, Ivan IV, Henry VIII and Nicholas II – born to the throne”

  1. 1 Bill Hanigan December 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Where does Mubarak with a beard fit into the picture? From autocracy to theocracy-we should have known. You only have to look ar Morsi’s CV to realise the inevitability of what the Muslim Brotherhood are up to.

  2. 2 Ken Adams December 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Morsi could become Mubarak’s replacement and a cruel, repressive dictator; but he is only the political head of the Ickwan Muslimim, he does not dictate to the party, the party dictates to him – In my opinion, whatever happens, Egypt is not on the path of Assad-ness. As to whether we should have known, of course we should have and some did; anytime a fundamentalist party is elected one can anticipate a very restrictive society.

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