Dictators and the violent societies surrounding them

History makes few moral judgments, if the historical interest in Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin is any indication. Ambitious individuals, such as Alexander the Great, and the sheer scale of their accomplishments, attract attention. At the same time, the significance of great events ultimately fades. Rome split apart, and the individual parts fell. Napoleon conquered most of Europe, then lost at Waterloo.

Dictators are overthrown, assassinated, and sometimes die of natural causes. If moral outrage can motivate countries to remove dictators in hopes of a better outcome, what is gained often falls short of permanent victory. The brutality of Saddam Hussein was one of the moral justifications for the invasion of Iraq.

In May 2013, some ten years after the invasion, with Saddam removed and executed, the number of people killed in bombings and attacks was over 1,000 - unusually high for a single month, but not totally out of the ordinary either. By the end of August, the number killed in the period from April to August, was believed to have passed 4,000. When 2013 came to an end, the total had climbed to 8,800.

Resources | Six Themes | Seven Nations | Governments and Empires | Geological Past