Tuesday, February 22, 2011

History of heads on spikes

You can have a revolution without putting the old leader's head on a spike, but it is one of those defining moments that symbolizes an irrevocable change. Charles I in 1649, Louis XIV XVI in 1793, Nicolas II in 1918, Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, they all did their part to confirm that a real revolution was in progress.

Watching Hosni Mubarak's last telecast last week, I wondered he might be the one who would surrender his head as the symbol of what they are now calling the Arab 1848.

Would Mubarak's apparent determination to hold on at all costs actually keep him in the presidential palace until the mob decideded to storm the gates and ...?  Well, no. The army had other ideas, and Mubarak was gone the next day (though he is apparently still in the country and presumably available for a show trial should some new regime need one.)

The prime candidate now may be Muammar Gadhafi, who for the moment at least looks equally determined to defy the people of Libya to the bitter end, even appearing in public last night to prove he was not in Venezuela.  He too may have an executive jet standing by (Silvio Berlusconi is said to be a friend, not that he is very secure either). But as the tide sweeps across North Africa and the Middle East, you have to wonder if one of these furious and insecure autocrats is going to miscalculate and end up making the revolutionary gesture.

(Image: www.DestinationCreation.com)
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