They say that it takes the compassion for humanity, the love of one’s country and a strong search for integrity and sympathy to become a tough and valued figurehead. However, each now and then there is a certain leader who decides to do things differently, different than the norm, different than how people imagine a true leader would be. Instead of caring for the value of humanity and cherish the gift of life, these cold-blooded dictators only cared about their selfish ambitions in growing, domineering, and abusing power. In different means of perspectives, some researches and figures around the world consider that Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler where the biggest criminals.
This article will depict a comparison between the different types of criminality in accordance to timeframe and leaders between the 20th and the 21st Centuries.
What is humanity? And what is depriving humanity? Those are 2 terminologies we should understand first. Humanity is the quality or state of being humane or kind to others. Taking away humanity is in other words crime against humanity. Crime against humanity is atrocity (as slaughter or enslavement) that is directed especially against an entire population or part of a population on unfounded grounds regardless of individual guilt or responsibility even on such grounds. Crime against humanity has been ongoing since a long time in variable forms. Two main crimes happened in the 20th Century: the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust. This term “crime against humanity” was firstly used by Great Britain, France and Russia when the Armenian Genocide happened by Ottomans in 1915. Another crime against humanity is the Jewish Holocaust executed by Hitler in 1941 due to his anti-Semitic policy. This type of cruelty was pursued by many dictators of that time. According to statistics, Mao Zedong of China is listed as number one in killing 78 million souls between 1943 and 1976. He is followed by Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union who murdered 23 million between 1922 and 1953. Adolf Hitler of Germany is in third place having massacred 17 million souls between 1934 and 1945 including the Holocaust. Thus, this reveals how much a population could be weak and in need of any leader but yet they get to a point where they can’t stop these murderous acts their leaders are doing. Despite the fact that Hitler and Stalin were the main dictators of that time, their ideologies differed. Unlike Hitler, Stalin spoke in public about friendship and equality among people and he did not advocate racial and national intolerance openly. Hitler enjoyed the loyalty of his subsidiaries while Stalin practiced uninformed terror. Hitler never brought Germany to a position of autarky but he dreamt of expansionism whereas in Russia Stalin began to achieve this autarky. Hitler stood in the face of communism and had the support of many capitalist countries to fight Bolshevism. However, despite the difference in ideologies, they were murderers, killers, or “terrorists” as called nowadays, making them the same in taking away souls. Thus, a dictatorship is absolute power or control applied by one person or junta that is in total control of everything in the state. Dictators have no one to refer to but themselves.
Yet, is there a difference in context between crimes and terrorist attacks of the 20th Century and 21st Century or is it just a change in terminologies?
Terrorism is simply defined as the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal. More precisely, terrorism is the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.Terrorism is usually used as a means of weakening or ousting certain political organizations. However, some leaders or governments apply terrorism against their own people to stop the insurgence of oppositions such in France after the French Revolution with the Jacobins’ Reign of Terror in the 19th Century where over 20,000 persons were guillotined or summary executed. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Argentina during the “dirty war” of the 1970s, are other examples of applying violence against one’s population. The impact of terrorism has been extravagant by the enormity and the technologically advanced weaponry of this day, and the ability of the media to broadcast news of terroristic attacks immediately worldwide.
After the dictatorships of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Zedong’s China, came terrorist groups that applied crimes against humanity in different forms. Following World War II, the war by proxy between USSR and USA until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the emergence of these terrorist groups started to appear. Crime base shifted from Europe to the Middle East.
Over the media, we’ve been hearing for quite some time about three main entities: Al Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS. The question is if there is any difference between these terrorist groups and the dictatorships that were a century ago. Al Qaeda is the oldest terrorist group among them. It was created between 1988 and 1990 by Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda was known as al Mujahidin or freedom fighters that started a guerilla war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1979. Al Qaeda was first created to fight for Muslim causes on an international scale. Al Qaeda targeted USA, Europe, India, and Yemen. Yet, the deadliest terrorist attack to ever occur was in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 (9/11 attack) where members from Al Qaeda’s network hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City and one into the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C. and the fourth plane crashed near Pittsburg. This attack caused the US to declare war on terror or the fight against terrorism under the Bush administration. Taliban is a bit different than Al Qaeda since they were students of “Jamiyat Olama’ al Islam” and functions locally. It was establish by Mullah Mohamed Omar in 1994. Taliban protected Bin Laden for a certain period of time. Al Qaeda’s ideology is based on Sharia’ law and influenced by the writings of Sayyad Qutb or “qutbism”. However, Taliban’s ideology is a combination of Sharia’ Law and Pashtun tribal codes, sharing some concepts of jihad followed by the Al-Qaeda group. Another recent group is ISIS that emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s first Islamist group going back to the late 1920s in Egypt. ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and they follow an extreme anti-Western interpretation of Islam, promote religious aggression and consider those who do not agree with its interpretations as traitors and apostates.
All these groups are primarily Sunni Arab Jihadists and they all intend to establish one new caliphate; i.e. the Qur’an commands all Muslims to terrify and murder non-Muslims until all religions belong to “Allah”. However, not all Sunnis support these terrorist groups. For instance, ISIS entered the Lebanese boarders through Arsel in the Bekaa on August 2, 2014 and murdered people of different religions including Sunnis. This shows a gap between these entities. They act in the name of Islam but not all Muslims agree on the terms these Jihadists call for.
These terrorists are creating a certain fear among people especially nowadays ISIS in Iraq, Syria and part of Lebanon. This fear among people was created equally a century ago when Hitler’s Nazism, Mussolini’s Fascism and Stalin’s communism came to power. Like Hitler, ISIS seems to have the appetite for genocides. They both call for the total extermination of a whole category of people. Just like Hitler too, they slaughter people who according to their beliefs are “unbelievers”, including their fellow Sunnis.
Are these groups targeting capitalist countries? Is there aim to create tension among religions? Where they created to form a certain worldwide threat and to stand in the face of other entities such as the fear of Iran’s Shiite expansion? All these questions have been asked throughout the years but we can never find a definite answer. All we can say is that terrorism has always been there and it never changed. It just changed its wording from “dictatorship” to “terrorism”. Despite that in real terms and definitions terrorism is different than dictatorship but they all have the same consequences and same end. Casualties and hostilities are present in both and the more powerful and financially stable is the leader or group, the more damages and cruelty occurs. They both created a certain hatred in people towards one another such as Germans feeling ashamed of their past and the debt they still have to pay for the Jewish Holocaust, i.e. having tensed relations between both races; the creation of Al Qaeda triggered the fight against terrorism campaign or the war on terror where many countries joined in the fight to stop these inhumane massacres that are happening. Both types were first initiated by a certain leader who is blind for expansionism and power and seeks nothing but private, self-sufficient goals such as Hitler calling for the German race only, Al Qaeda following the ideology of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, ISIS calling for only Sunni Islamism and eradicating all other religions and sects on earth, and Stalin calling for a pure communist manifesto against all types of capitalism and free market. This is anarchy. We are living in a chaotic, selfish world where the strong only survives. Yet, where is our humanity? Where are the values we learned? Where are our beliefs in world peace? All what we want is only for our minds to think of and dream about but when it comes to the real deal we all want what’s best for one’s self and forget the “we-ness” policy we once called for.
The big question remains, why did the Western states stand in the face of Nazism, Fascism, Communism a century ago but now none of them is acting to stop these atrocious acts against humanity that terrorist groups are executing?