As the details regarding Osama bin Laden continue to unfold it is becoming obvious that his rejection of things western left him vulnerable. Here was a man, a man of great wealth, living a more or less hypocritical existence. He has rejected all things western and called on his followers to live by the Koran. He rejected the Internet, cell phones, satellites, while using them to further his objectives of the overthrow of western society. He lived in a “mansion” we are told but the photos and videos showing his living conditions would have led to his indictment in the US as a slum lord. He feared capture and death while producing videos showing him in various militant poses with weapons. The real irony here is how he lived at the end. Hitler died in his bunker from self administered poison. His dreams of a super race and a Third Reich were crushed by bombs while he was rejected and betrayed by his own military. Stalin apparently died of natural causes but his was an existence of fear and mistrust because he feared all of those around him. So his life was hardly the kind of life anyone would wish and at the very end his own daughter betrayed him. Saddam Hussein ended on the gallows after being dragged out of hole in the ground. For Bin Laden he had effectively been in prison for the last five years, not venturing out beyond his walled compound. Apparently in his rejection of all things western he had failed to read his Shakespeare or he would have learned the lesson of King Lear. Bin Laden had divided his power and those to whom he delegated his power wielded it on their own leaving him ignored, living in squalor, and left to die surrounded by his two remaining loyal followers. So bin Laden followed in the footsteps of all of those mass murders who preceded him.
The pages of history are strewn with examples of how those who misuse their power seem to come to bad ends, destroyed by their friends, allies, or even by their own over reaching for power. Perhaps the lesson is that while empires may be build on blood and treasure individuals cannot achieve a positive place in history using the same methods. Caesar came to power over the bodies of his own citizens but was assassinated by his friends, because he could not bring himself to restore the republic. Napoleon came to power much the same way but he too could not lay down his power and set up a democratic government. George Washington is the only historical figure who having achieved total control over a government and country set aside his power in favor of a government of representatives. In the end, bin Laden ended like all of his predecessors, alone and undefended.