If Idi Amin ever did anything useful for Africa or the world, I don’t know of it. But he did provide one good negative lesson – how to get a brutal tyrant out of the way, one who would like to abdicate but is terrified of meeting a Ceausescu-style end (running away in terror from a vengeful firing squad looking for blood). Those cell phone vids of Saddam’s execuction-turned-lynching are exactly why the world’s nasties like Mugabe or Castro won’t leave power even when their ‘revolutions’ are spent or corrupted and the whole world has turned on them.
Kim Jong Il has to be thinking the same. He knows his regime is falling apart, and that its already slim chance for a stable future is even more reduced by its extreme isolation. He is afraid of collapse and an ignominious end like Mussolini’s – hung from a lamppost by angry resistors. And indeed, this is likely, or a trial in postunification courts that will almost certainly convict him as a criminal against humanity and possibly a genocidaire. South Korea has the death penalty, and Kim would almost certainly face execution. This must not only deeply unnerve Kim, but also anger him. He is a sitting head of state with a Mandate from Heaven and nuclear weapons. Yet most of the world thinks he should be hanged by the SK government.
SK rarely uses the death penalty, and I suspect it is kept on the book primarily for the postunification trials. The NK elite is complicit in the worst man-made famine since the Great Leap Forward, and runs the most awful gulag system the world has ever known.
So here is where the man who said human flesh tastes too salty can ‘help.’ Amin basically gave up making trouble for Uganda when he received asylum in Saudi Arabia. He wasn’t executed, never repented, and lived reasonably well. Kim probably wants all these things too. And China could give them to him. This is far better end than the possible factional conflict brewing after his death. He must know that the regime will be terribly shaky without him; analysts still regularly argue that Kim must shore up his own power in the regime, some 15 years after his father’s death. If that is so, how long will Kim Jong-Un last before he is pushed aside or turned into a figurehead? At least from a comfortable exile Jong-Il can blame the Americans and condemn SK’s destruction of the utopia. He can enjoy the girls, movies and booze he loves; maybe China will give him a home theater and he can just slide away like Amin did. On the hand, if he hangs on to the bitter end, I predict factionalism.