Category Archives: Obituary

Fidel Castro: A Life Spent in the Service of Tyranny

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 26, 2016

It is difficult to think of a dictator that has had more popular support in the West than Fidel Castro. The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and the Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn have all today expressed their admiration in one way or another for Castro. This support was never just personal: any number of “revolutionary” governments could vicariously earn themselves similar leniency for their practices via some kind of identification with Castro. This was especially useful for the Soviet Union and its clients during the Cold War, but continued long after. That all of these “experiments” ended in bloodshed and disaster never seemed to matter, so long as the flame of anti-Americanism remained lit. Now, finally, Castro is at an end, even if his ruinous legacy is not. Continue reading

Obituary: Robert Conquest

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 5, 2015

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Few men did more than the historian Robert Conquest to refute the lies of the Soviet Union, undermining its ideology and propaganda, therefore its appeal, and ultimately its regime. Indeed, at the final meeting of the Soviet Central Committee a Stalinist hack described Conquest as “anti-Sovietchik No. 1“; a compliment if ever there was one. Continue reading

Obituary: Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 6, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier in 2011

Jean-Claude Duvalier in 2011

It might have come as a shock to some that a dictator who took power in 1971 and was deposed in 1986 was even still alive, but such is the case with Jean-Claude Duvalier, who died on Saturday. The fact that Duvalier took power in Haiti at the age of 19 was only the least of the weirdness of the dynasty established by his father, Francois, who had been a medical doctor and fashioned himself “Papa Doc” in official propaganda (an honorific passed to Jean-Claude in the succession, hence “Baby Doc”). Continue reading

Obituary: Fouad Ajami

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 23, 2014

I was genuinely devastated to learn of Fouad Ajami’s death late last night. I think it was more shocking because nobody had known he was ill. I had noticed the decreased frequency of his columns in the Wall Street Journal but he was not a regular in any sense, writing one or two a month, so it was not wholly out of the ordinary and then he had returned last week for what it now transpires was the final time.  Continue reading