So You Wanna Be a Dictator – Part II

So You Wanna Be a Dictator – Part II

Adrienne BoettingerMonday,17 March 2014

The Snap:

When last we left our exercise in “Dictators for Dummies,” we discussed two very different paths to becoming violent crapweasels.  First we had the shy eye doctor in Bashar al-Assad of Syria whose penchant for menace really didn’t come into full bloom until his brother kicked the bucket. Next we had that lover of basketball and massive multiplayer online gamer, Kim Jong Un, who takes time from pointing at things and running North Korea even further into the ground to hang out with his pal Dennis Rodman. But what about the journeys of other wanna-be megalomaniacs? What about the dictators whose love of learning almost rivaled their love of violent upheavals? Let’s take a look at the pre-autocratic lives of Robert Mugabe and Saddam Hussein to see if there are any tips potential dictators-in-training can pick up.

3. Perennial College Student (Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe):

Before he was supporting the illegalization of homosexuality in Uganda and being a major asshat in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe was a major bookworm. His father, a carpenter, mysteriously disappeared so Mugabe and his siblings were raised by their mother, who was a teacher. Robert began his own love of learning at a Jesuit school, where ironically he was taught that all people should be treated equally. Maybe he should have taken that course a few times.

After that, Robert had a hard time leaving school. He would teach in between earning degrees hither and yon. After getting like 4 or 5 degrees, he became President for life. In between a robust schedule of violating human rights and taking out his enemies, Mugabe even managed to get an honorary degree or two (though some universities withdrew the honor).

4. Law School Dropout (Saddam Hussein, Iraq)

Like Mugabe, Saddam Hussein didn’t descend from a long line of lunatic leaders. Hussein came from the wrong side of the tracks. His biographer said that as a boy, Saddam stole chickens and eggs to support his family but he didn’t say which came first, the chicken or the egg (rim shot). He was also illiterate until the age of 10 when he threw a tantrum upon learning that his cousins could read and he demanded the same education.

Before he became the bane of President Bush’s existence, ruining the lives of millions of Kurds and not hiding weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was busy dressing as a woman and fleeing to Syria on a Donkey, murdering his brother-in-law, and entering but not finishing law school in Cairo. It makes you wonder what would have happened if he had finished law school.



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Hat Tips:

CNN, BiographyWashington Post, PBS, Image Credit: Flickr

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