When the news came out that Muammar Gaddafi had been killed in Libya, I certainly didn’t shed a tear. He was a dickweed who fucked over a ton of people, and I’m sure the Libyan people will be better off without him. But, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a small part of me that felt strangely wistful.
Except for the fabulous Castro boys, Gaddafi had held onto his status as American boogeyman for longer than anybody else. In power since 1969, he was bombed by Ronald Reagan for fuck’s sake. Gaddafi was a classic, a survivor, the Liza with a Z of Hitlerness.
In the past half-decade, the U.S. has gone from having a Murderer’s Row of Hitlers to having almost none. Like an aging sports team that hits the wall, the starters have lost their fastball and the minor leagues are barron.
So, who are the cable networks going to use to goose a slow news day? Who are politicians going to demonize to distract from the real issues? Who are going to keep the flag and yellow ribbon manufacturers in business?
First, let’s take a look at who we’ve lost:
Muammar Gaddafi: Libya: Team Hitler since 1969: killed 2011. The clotheshorse of the group, known for his Michael Jackson-influenced style. Was the #1 starter during both the ’80s (during his Middle East phase) and since bin Laden’s death (during his Africa phase).
Osama bin Laden: Al-Qaeda: Team Hitler since 2001: killed 2010. Much like Sandy Koufax, rebounded from a slow start to put together a brief-but-historical run of dominance. The #1 starter from 9/11 until his death. Known as the George Harrisonish quiet, religious one.
Saddam Hussein: Iraq: Team Hitler since 1990: killed 2006. #1 starter for H.W. and a valuable #2 starter for W. Would be jealous to know that Gaddafi was known as the clotheshorse, but has the distinction of being the only one to stand “trial”.
Fidel Castro: Cuba: Team Hitler since 1959: 85 and ailing. #1 Latin American starter for as long as most people can remember. Like Jaime Moyer, nobody can believe he’s still going.
Kim Jong-Il: North Korea: Team Hitler since 1997: 70 and ailing. #1 Asian starter since he took power from his father. Follows in Hitler’s footsteps by having thwarted artistic ambitions… hugely valuable for the movie round when Team Hitler goes out for pub trivia.
Hugo Chavez: Venezuela: Team Hitler since 2005: fighting cancer. Scrappy and mouthy, Chavez is kind of the Joe-Pesci-in-Goodfellas of the Team. Once seen as an up-and-comer, he’s been going through cancer treatment this year. Chavez may turn out to be fine, but it’s hard to be scared of a guy who’s bald from chemotherapy.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Iran: Team Hitler since 2005: not in charge. Like Chavez, a young turk who broke down early. Has the Team Hitler Achilles Heel… he’s not really in charge of his own country. Looks like he put up artificial numbers with steroids and is now paying the price. Also, not a team player… questions both Hitler and bin Laden’s signature atrocities.
Barack Obama: U.S.: Team Hitler since 2008: a Manchurian candidate. Sorry… totally different column.
Think about it… 5 years ago, we had all those guys active and ready to scare the bejesus out of America on the whim of Sean Hannity. Now, they’re either dead or a shell of their former selves. In this time of great crisis, all that Americans can focus their fear and anger toward are nebulous enemies like China or the IMF. No wonder we’re turning on ourselves… the U.S. needs someone specific, a Hans Brinker to throw off the metaphorical building. There are almost 200 fucking countries… can there really be nobody out there to save us from ourselves?
So, what are we looking for exactly?
Only Asians, Latin Americans or Africans need apply. Hitler himself pretty much retired the title for Europeans. In recent history, there have certainly been “evil” Europeans (Nicolae Ceausesau, Slobodan Milosevic), but none of them scared Americans. We may say we “hate” the French, but we’re not about to actually bomb them. Oceania only has white and/or powerless people. And nobody will listen to me about the Canadians.
We don’t want an actual fight. We’re not looking for actual wars here (W. pretty much killed that maverick strategy). We just want to be able to bomb you, which you’ll hopefully narrowly escape from so we don’t have to start this search over again. We may hate the jock, but he might hurt us physically… we may hate the nerd, but he might hurt us economically. So, we’d much rather toy with the guy with the weird clothes and smell who doesn’t have many friends. This rules out such fireballers as Putin or Jintao.
Make yourself pretty. The winner of American Idol isn’t the best singer, it’s the one with the most compelling story and image. We like guys who wear crazy uniforms with lots of medals. We like guys who call us devils. We like guys who blow shit up. We’re looking for that Adam Lambert spark.
“Betray” the U.S. bin Laden, Hussein, Castro, Manuel Noriega… there’s a long track record of the U.S. “Hitlerizing” leaders who have gotten too big for their britches, by either double-crossing us or getting greedy. This always adds a nice personal aspect to the whole thing. Don’t have any ties to the U.S. to betray? Follow Chavez and just start nationalizing things… the corporations will take it from there.
Have something the “scares” us. This can come in many different forms, but you gotta find something. Maybe you have a natural resource you can pretend you might cut off. Maybe you have a proximity to us or our allies that makes us nervous. Maybe you just seem bat-shit crazy. In a bind, you can pretend you want nuclear or biological weapon technology… the media will take it from there.
For Your Consideration…
Jose Eduardo dos Santos: Angola: In Power since 1979
Subverting the Angolan people’s will by staying in power – check. Having multiple wives – check. Overseeing war atrocities – check. Leading a fertile, growing oil state – check. Problems: Angola is the largest supplier of oil to China, and he’s already 69.
Thein Sein: Myanmar: In Power since 2011
Sein was Prime Minister since 2007, before moving up to the big chair this year. He’s seen as a moderate, but since Myanmar is one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, that might not mean what we think it means. Myanmar doesn’t have many resources, but is the world’s second-largest producer of opium, which opens a Noriega angle. He’s already 66, but it would be extra satisfying to hate on the regime that got rid of one of the best country names, Burma. Plus, Rambo has already done some legwork on raising Myanmar’s evil profile, and Sein looks like a James Bond villain.
Rafael Correa: Ecuador: In Power since 2007
May not have the eccentricity or charisma to be an effective boogeyman. Only 48, he’s lately been dipping his toes into the game, tossing out a U.S. ambassador and not renewing an Air Force lease. He’s joined up with countries like Venezuela and Cuba. He’s engaged in some non-kosher election behavior, on referendums that have given him major control over the judiciary. He was educated and has family living in the U.S., which opens up the betrayal angle. Ecuador has crude oil and bananas. But it’s just not enough for me to want it for him…