A Dictator’s Demise (the view from Sirmionie)

This time last year I wrote a post about how “nothing happens in August”, and therefore I was excused from blogging too much during my (well-earned) holiday. This year,to say nothing happens in August would be to admit you’ve spent your summer cut off from all civilisation, whether that’s being unable to access your 3G during your holiday, or literally sticking your head in the sand!

As I’m writing, the sun has set and the mosquitoes have arisen over the town of Limone on Lake Garda. I’ve had both a wonderfully relaxing and thoroughly challenging week (physically with 40 degree heat, as well as spiritually due to some major reading material). To the south of the Lake is the town of Sirmionie, where fascist dictator Benito Mussolini kept a holiday home. I had hoped we would visit Sirmionie and ‘get my history “geek” on’, but the ferry trip was fully booked, sadly. I don’t think my wife was that disappointed!

Having later got my 3G working, I caught up on all the news. I was away camping the week before too so have been one step behind since the riots! Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, it appears, is no more, politically anyway. Amidst the complete chaos of Civil War, with its untold atrocities, Gaddafi’s empire has crumbled. The future for this oil-rich (and therefore intervened by the West) country remains as uncertain as NATO’s future role in its rebuilding (NATO do find it notoriously difficult to leave, after all!).

The Western world also continues to apply pressure on other countries¬† where there is conflict- namely Syria. I find it surprising the length of time with which this unrest as continued, showing a defiant resolve on both sides. Ultimately however, one side will win out. In Libya, the victor is starting to emerge, as rebel fighters hunt for Gaddafi and his family. What will happen to this tyrant if and when he is discovered? Will we learn the truth of his final days? We were fascinated by Saddam Hussein’s last days, and by Osama Bin Laden’s final moments.

As I rest my head a few miles from Mussolini’s holiday home, I am reminded about how his end involved his hung corpse being dragged through the street and publicly urinated on, such was his unpopularity at the end of his life. While some (Hitler, Lenin, Mao and Stalin to name a few) leave at least this life without facing judgement, others are not so lucky, and I expect the downfall of this latest dictator to fall into the latter category, categorised in every 21st century detail for the historians of the future.


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