Ask A Genius 522 – Worst Leaders in History
July 21, 2019
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Who do you think is the worst leader in history?
Rick Rosner: The 20th century had three of the worst leaders in history based on raw body count. Mao may have been responsible for 50 million deaths of his own citizens. Stalin responsible for 40 million deaths of his own citizens. Hitler for 30 million deaths overall with the wars, the camps where people were slaughtered. People talk about the 6 million Jews, but the 5 million other people Hitler didn’t like.
Of course, when you’re killing this many people, it is hard to get an accurate number in the middle of the carnage. There are those who didn’t get the chance to kill more like Pol Pot. There have been leaders who killed. Hitler is the one who comes to mind. But when you look at Germany now, a progressive, successful country and one of the best economies in Europe.
The stain he left on Germany is still there. But Germany rose with the help of America and the Marshall Plan and our realizing after World War Two; that you don’t fuck over the countries that you fought. You help them recover because at the end of World War One; the Allies, the victors, fucking hammered Germany for its role in World War One and for being the loser in the war.
The strife and the anger that arose from that lead directly to World War Two. Anyway, Germany is a great country now. You could argue Stalin was, maybe, the worst because Russia is a super fucked up country, even 70 years after the end of Stalin. He killed everybody competent in the country. He purged them. More people died in Russia from World War Two in battle and associated causes than in any other country. Russia lost 25 million people.
I assume a competent historian could argue that they would have done better in World War Two if Stalin hadn’t killed all the competent military people before World War Two started. I don’t know for sure. But he killed everybody competent in his country. Russia, not just because of him remains one of the most fucked up semi-developed countries in the world.
Putin is currently winning international politics because he developed sophisticated techniques to fuck over the politics of other countries. That doesn’t make Russia any less fucked up. I guess I would go, “Stalin number one as shittiest leader in history.”
One caveat, the countries lead by these people – Germany, Russia, not the Soviet Union, and China – still exist. So, as leaders, they weren’t so disastrous for their countries that their countries ceased to exist. You can probably find other leaders who were so shitty as leaders that their countries no longer exist. An argument can be made for Gaddafi.
You can’t say he was the worst leader in history because his crimes were comparatively small potatoes. You could argue he was shitty. In that, Libya doesn’t exist or is a failed state now. I don’t know what the other failed states are currently. That’s got to count heavily against a leader: Their country is no longer a country.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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