History is repeating itself as far as the presence on the world stage of so many psychopaths in positions of leadership. The last time the world experienced a slew of bloodthirsty craven leaders with megadeath on their minds was World War II. That war etched into the collective memory of humankind such psychopaths as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco, Vidkun Quisling, Juan Peron, Subhas Chandra Bose, and an assortment of petit-tyrants, fascist despots, and bloodthirsty warlords whose names have largely been forgotten by history.
Some 50 million people died during World War II. Although we’re not seeing deaths from current international psychopathic leadership approaching World War II levels, the absence of a strong bulwark against fascism, such as the Allied alliance of World War II, is placing the world in as much danger as it faced in 1939. To the contrary, the United States, which provided the industrial and morale boost to the Allies in World War II, now faces a fascist domestic threat in the Republican Party that extends beyond Donald Trump. Although Trump failed in his January 6, 2021 coup attempt, which, if successful, would have seen a bloodbath in the Capitol taking the lives of the congressional leadership, keen observers of the far-right in the United States believe there will be future attempts to overthrow democracy by Trump and his rivals for power in the Republican Party.
Trump and Vladimir Putin bonded because they are similar in their psychopathy. Neither has any empathy and both are willing to eliminate threats to their political status. In Trump’s case, he was able to have the Scarfo crime family of South Jersey and Philadelphia take care of three Trump Organization executives in Atlantic City in 1989. Their helicopter blew up over the Garden State Parkway in 1989, killing them and their crew. The three would never sit down with the FBI in a scheduled meeting. The FBI and New Jersey state investigators were looking into the Russian mob’s use of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos to launder cash and lots of it. Like a mob boss who attends the funeral of his victim, Trump actually had the nerve to “pay his respects” to the family of one of the crash victims, Mark Grossinger Etess of the famed Grossinger resort in the Catskills, at the Margate, NJ home.
Trump’s one-time close friend, the late convicted pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, was another lesson in psychopathy. His connections with various world leaders, including former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Saudi royal family, serve as a stark reminder of the power of political blackmail. Trump’s and Epstein’s “gang rape” of two underage girls in 1994, one 13 years of age and the other an 11-year old kidnap victim from a street corner in Waterbury, Connecticut the previous year, demonstrate the depravity of political psychopaths. By way of breaking news, Anthony “Tony” Ornato, Trump’s Secret Service agent, who acted as Trump’s handpicked political deputy director of White House operations during the attempted coup, served as a police officer in Waterbury in the aftermath of the young girl’s abduction by a child sex trafficking ring. Waterbury was, when Ornato was a police officer in the town, a hotbed for child sex trafficking. Phil Giordano, a Republican who became mayor in 1996, was arrested in 2001 for using his office to procure sex from underage girls, including an 8-year old. In Trump World, including the case of Ornato serving in a key position on January 6th, there are never any coincidences, just as there is rarely any final accounting for past criminal activities.
It is vital for democracy that psychopaths be checked at every turn in their quest for power. Trump’s attempted coup d’état on January 6, 2021 involved several psychopaths at home and abroad. The Brazilian Congress and Supreme Court continue to investigate the support given to the coup by Brazil’s embassy in Washington. The neo-Nazi president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, had dispatched his son, a Brazilian federal deputy, to Washington, where he was in constant contact with members of the Trump family and key coup plotters at the White House and the Willard and Trump Hotels. Pro-Putin Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a close friend of coup instigator Steve Bannon, and a Trump supporter, remains in Trump’s loyal camp of fascist leaders abroad.
Putin, like Trump, always seeks revenge against those who cross him. Currently, Putin’s target is an entire nation, Ukraine, where Russian missiles on a daily basis kill children, women, the elderly, and anyone else who is unfortunate enough to be in an apartment building, hospital, church, or shopping center targeted by the Russians.
The world has largely forgotten the case of Gretta Vedler, a 23-year old Russian model who went missing from her Moscow hotel room in January 2021, after she posted on Instagram a tirade against Putin. The posting, which referred to the Russian dictator as a “psychopath, stated:
“Given the fact that Putin went through a lot of humiliation in childhood, he could not stand up for himself due to his physical form, it is not surprising that he left after law school and joined the KGB. Such people are timid and fearful from childhood, afraid of noise and darkness, strangers, so traits such as caution, restraint, and lack of communication are developed early in their character . . . I can only assume, in my opinion, a clear psychopathy or sociopathy is seen in him.”
Vedler was killed a month later, supposedly by a jealous boyfriend. The murderer supposedly drove Vedler’s body—which was stuffed in a suitcase and placed in the vehicle’s trunk—from Moscow to the city of Lipetsk, 300 miles away, and abandoned. The car and body were not “discovered” until March 12 of this year. Gretta Vedler joined a long list of suspicious deaths of those who have crossed Putin. These include political opposition leaders, businessmen, journalists, and others. Putin’s favorite methods for dispatching his enemies include poisoning, shooting at point blank range, hanging made to appear as suicide, beating, drug-induced heart attack, and drive by shooting. If Putin’s execution methods appear as those favored by the Russian mafia it is because Putin is a kingpin in that very same mafia. One Putin critic, Belarusian sex escort Anastasia Vashukevich, 27, who claimed she had several hours of recordings of Russian officials discussing their role in Trump’s 2016 election, was quickly arrested and deported from Thailand in 2019 following her revelation. Vashukevich claimed she had recorded the now-sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close confidante of Putin and Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
The world’s psychopathic leaders also have ranks of fanatical supporters at their disposal to wage terrorist attacks against their enemies. In Ukraine, pro-Russian Chechens and mercenaries of the Wagner Group and RSB-Group, which include a number of hardened criminals released from prison to aid Putin’s invasion, have carried out heinous war crimes against Ukrainian military personnel and civilians. In the United States, Trump-supporting involuntary celibates and far-right sociopaths have committed mass murder attacks on civilians in stores, synagogues, churches, parades, and schools.
In Brazil, Bolsonaro has given paramilitaries and his supporters the green light to kill his political opponents. The most recent victim was Marcelo Arruda, an official of the leftist Workers’ Party (PT), whose standard bearer, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is favored to beat Bolsonaro in this year’s October election. Bolsonaro has publicly stated that he plans a Trump-style coup should he lose the October election to Lula. Other Bolsonaro victims have included innocent residents of favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, as well as Amazon tribal leaders and activists.
The largest death toll brought about by psychopathic leaders has been that caused by initial inaction and overall neglect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Britain’s soon-to-be-departed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi all bear responsibility in the current world death toll from Covid of 6.73 million people. That is equivalent to the entire population of Lebanon or Libya with the United States, Brazil, and India accounting for one-third of the world’s deaths from the virus. Xi’s government has also been secretive about the origins of the virus in Wuhan and that policy has contributed to the international community’s inability to aggressively combat the virus with vaccines at an early stage. Xi has also managed to turn predominantly Muslim Xinjiang, also known as Chinese Turkestan, into a gigantic gulag of political prisoners and labor battalions. Tibet has not fared much better and Hong Kong now bears the imprint of Xi’s iron boot.
Prime Minister Modi, who has stoked radical Hindu acts of violence against Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians in his nation, is also among the hardened psychopaths of world leadership. In 2015, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, called Modi, who is also a friend of both Trump and Putin, a “psychopath.” Indian Express columnist Tavleen Singh, once a supporter of Modi, has written that he has “a hint of megalomania.” She added that she fears that anti-Muslim feelings are ingrained in Modi’s DNA.
Even if Trump never serves again as president and Bolsonaro is defeated by Lula in October, these psychopaths, joined by those like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the “bone saw” executioner, have placed the world in the fast lane for a civilization-ending catastrophe of cascading events, from the pandemic and climate collapse to a nuclear conflict.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).